21st Rotary Roundball Classic

At North Charleston High School

Dates: Dec, 27, 28 and 30

Tickets: Daily pass $8, Tournament pass $20

First-round games

Dec. 27

Rotary Foundation Bracket

Wings Academy vs. James Island, 11:30 a.m.

Goose Creek vs. West Ashley, 2:30 p.m.

Buford vs. Academic Magnet, 5:30 p.m.

North Gwinett vs. Summerville, 8:30 p.m.

Rotary International Bracket

Imhotep Charter vs. Pinewood Prep, 10 a.m.

Linden vs. Charleston Collegiate, 1 p.m.

Wando vs. Porter-Gaud, 4 p.m.

St. John's College vs. North Charleston, 7 p.m.

Oh, the luck of the bracket pairings.

Goose Creek basketball coach Blake Hall was hoping to get an out-of-town opponent in the first round of the Rotary Roundball Classic to be held Dec. 27-28 and Dec. 30 at North Charleston High School.

Instead, his Gators will have to play a team a little closer to home - the West Ashley Wildcats.

"It's a little unfortunate," Hall said after learning his team's fate Monday when the pairings were announced for the 21st annual tournament. "We were hoping for an out-of-state team and got West Ashley. When you face an out-of-state team, it can prepare you for what might be down the road. Now, we have West Ashley. Coach (Ronnie) DuPre does a great job and West Ashley has some great basketball players. It's going to be a great challenge."

The Roundball Classic has 16 teams in this year's field, and three of the squads - Goose Creek, West Ashley and Wando - are from Region 7-AAAA.

The Gators, who are making their eighth apperance in the Roundball Classic, won 22 games last winter and reached the Class AAAA state championship before losing to Irmo. Eight lettermen return, including Dantez Bennamon, Kameron Robinson, Chris Singleton and Jordan McElveen.

Bennamon was all-state last year, while Robinson is one of the top juniors in the area.

Goose Creek has won 106 games over the last five years and Hall has built on the success, leading the team to the title game last season in his first at the school. He also coached North Charleston in the Roundball Classic and led the Cougars to the Class AA state title during the 2011-12 season. The Gators begin the season ranked No. 4 in Class AAAA.

"It's too early to tell about this season," Hall said. "But we have a chance to be an exciting team. But it will be a fight to win our region. I believe Region 7-AAAA is the toughest region in the Lowcountry."

West Ashley also topped the 20-victory mark last season. The Wildcats have two lettermen back from last year's team: Kevin Sobiesuo and Brandon Fields. Sobiesuo is a two-year letterman who earned all- region honors.

DuPre began this season with 493 career victories.

Wando won a Roundball bracket championship in 2010 and is coming off a 14-victory season. The team has eight lettermen back from last year, including Matthew Pegram and Andrew Glover.

This year's field includes 10 teams from the Palmetto State: Goose Creek, West Ashley, Wando, James Island, Academic Magnet, Summerville, Pinewood Prep, Charleston Collegiate, Porter-Gaud and North Charleston.

The out-of-state teams include Wings Academy out of the Bronx, Buford from Georgia and North Gwinnett from suburban Atlanta, Imhotep Charter of Philadelphia, Linden of Linden, N.J. and St. John's College, which is located in Washington, D.C.

Wing Academy returns six lettermen from a team that won 27 games last year. The Wings have won six division and six borough championships in the last 10 years.

North Gwinnett will make its first appearance in the Roundball Classic. The Bulldogs return 13 lettermen from a team that won 19 games last year. The Bulldogs were ranked sixth in the preseason poll of Class AAAA teams in Georgia.

Imhotep Charter returns six players from a team that won four state championships in the last five years. Andre Nobles began this season with 215 career coaching victories, including 28 last winter.

Linden returns nine lettermen from last year's team that won 22 games. The Tigers have won four state championships in the last eight years. Coach Philip Colicchio began this season with 330 career victories.

St. John's Collegiate returns eight lettermen from a team that won 20 games last year. The Cadets have been mentioned as a national factor in several publications.