Pioneer Valley Tip-Off set for December

The Pioneer Valley Tip-Off is coming back to the Curry Hicks Cage, on the campus of UMass Amherst, for a second year. Last year’s local, eight-team tournament has quickly grown into a 22-team regional showcase and will be played on December 14-15 of this year, the first weekend of the 2013-2014 high school basketball season. Presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods, the event will feature 11 games over the 2-day span.

Headlining the showcase field are recent state champions and Springfield powerhouses Central High School and Putnam Vocational, Worcester’s St. Peter-Marian and Doherty Memorial, and 2013 D2 and D3 state finalists South Hadley and Smith Academy. St. Peter-Marian will match up against defending MIAA Division 1 state champs Putnam, in a battle between two preseason Top 15 powers in the state; Central, debuting with legendary new head coach Jack O'Brien, will play Fitchburg High School.

The rest of the field contains classic Western Massachusetts basketball rivalries -– including Amherst vs. Northampton, and Smith Academy vs. Hopkins Academy –- and notable Western Massachusetts talent. Of the 24 Division 1 & 2 teams that qualified for the 2013 State Playoffs in Western Mass., 14 of them will play in this field.

A complete weekend schedule and ticket information can be found on the showcase website: www.pioneervalleytipoff.com.

The showcase -- working with Amherst-Pelham Regional High School, the MIAA sponsor -- is operated by UMass students in the esteemed Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management, located in the Isenberg School of Management. It was created by Patrick Sallet and Scott Moses (now juniors) who decided to transform the event from a tournament to a showcase to incorporate more schools from Central & Western Mass.

The event also aims to raise money for cancer awareness and has partnered with the prominent basketball charity Coaches vs. Cancer, for a seconnd year. Several fundraisers, including prize raffles and donation tables, will be on-site during the games to contribute to the fight against cancer.

Here is the full schedule:

Saturday, Dec. 14

Noon - West Springfield vs. Minnechaug

1:30 p.m. - Mahar vs. Belchertown

3 p.m. - Springfield Putnam vs. St. Peter-Marian

4:30 p.m. - Springfield Central vs. Fitchburg

6 p.m. - Amherst (Girls) vs. Frontier (Girls)

7:30 p.m. - Amherst (Boys) vs. Northampton (Boys)

Sunday, Dec. 15

Noon - Smith Academy vs. Hopkins Academy

1:30 p.m. - Holyoke vs. Pittsfield

3 p.m. - Greenfield vs. Taconic

4:30 p.m. - Doherty vs. Springfield Cathedral

6 p.m. - South Hadley vs. Longmeadow

For more information about the event and game day, visit www.pioneervalleytipoff.com, or email Patrick Sallet at pioneervalleybball@gmail.com with any questions.