Joining the Rebels and Rebelettes are teams from Central, Bremen, South Paulding Rockmart, Heard County and the girls team from Cleburne County, Ala. The Central boys and Heard County girls will get first-round byes after winning the title last year, as well as the HC boys team.
The Central and Bremen girls will get the tournament started at 2:30 p.m. while the Rockmart and South Paulding girls will meet at 4 p.m. with their boys teams matching up at 5:30 p.m. Hosts Haralson County will face Cleburne at 7 p.m. before the Heard County and Bremen boys wrap up the first day at 8:30 p.m.
"It's a lot of work and a lot of preparation goes into it, but it's a lot of fun. We're really excited to have all the schools coming in to play with us. We're looking forward to it," HC boys coach Ken Walker said.
Jane Williamson, the HC girls coach, knows plenty about the tournament as she is a part of it before during her coaching career. Her earlier teams were perennial tournament champions when they were also competing for, and winning, state titles.
"We had some of the best teams in the state play in that Christmas tournament. It has a lot of tradition to it and we have some real good teams coming in this year. Bremen and Central are both very good and Heard County," Williamson said. "We're looking forward to it and excited about everyone coming and playing."
Both host teams will get some familiar faces through the tournament. The Rebelettes will open tonight at 7 p.m. against Cleburne County — a team they defeated 37-22 at the beginning of the month.
"We're opening with Cleburne. We played them earlier, we won by 15. We did a pretty good job of shutting down their offense, but I'm sure they've made some adjustments," Williamson said. "They're very well coached."
The boys' schedule is a little more unknown with the first round bye, but there are a pair of familiar opponents for the Rebels.
"We've already played South Paulding and Bremen. South Paulding is really good this year, they only have one loss. Bremen played well against us last week, but I don't think they did that well in the Carroll County tournament so we'll see. We're looking forward to a possible rematch with them and maybe a big crowd," Walker said.
The Rebels will play the winner of the Heard County and Bremen matchup on Friday at 8:30 p.m. meaning there are two games before they open the Region 4-AAA schedule at the beginning of January. Walker hopes these two games can be a turnaround that helps snap a seven-game losing streak and builds momentum moving forward.
"This weekend is very crucial to our ability to turn our season around. We got off to a bad start and haven't shot very well or scored enough points to win. We're hoping to pick up the offense, continue to play well on defense and gear up for region play," Walker said. "We'll be getting Seth Neeley back. He'll get two games in before we start region play and I think that's very important. Just being full strength and start gelling together with everybody out there will be important."
For the girls, sitting at 2-5 isn't exactly where Williamson wants them to be. With a young team — only two seniors and two juniors with the rest being underclassmen — the process can be a slow one. This tournament provides a chance to get some more experience in.
"We need to improve our play and get more fundamentally sound, work on our jump shots, work on our offense and defense, work on our press and press break. Just the basic fundamentals. What I'd like to see is us improve every game and get more knowledgeable and get more skilled. I think Maci Campbell has done a real good job for us defensively and Sky Overby I think scored 18 against Cleburne the first time," Williamson said. "They've beginning to come around a little bit."