Bojangles Carolina Invitational official Chuck Beddingfield thought his tournament was the biggest girls’ Christmas holiday event in the nation. But he admits he was wrong.

“I was looking around and found one in Arizona that has 80 teams,” he said. “I don’t know if that is for one tournament or what. But we’ll get bigger next year. We want to be the biggest and the best.”

This year’s Carolina Invitational increased from 16 teams to 48 and Beddingfield wants to expand it to either 88 or 96 teams for 2013.

This year’s event is still plenty big. There are three venues, Bishop England, Hanahan and St. John’s and basketball began Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. and concluded around 10 p.m. as each site hosted eight games.

At Bishop England, two of the Lowcountry’s better teams played bright and early. Pinewood Prep beat Cheraw, 73-53, while Bishop England fell to Virginia heavyweight Oakton by a 59-40 decision.

The Oakton-Bishop England game featured a pair of defending state champions. Oakton went 32-0 last season and won the Virginia Class AAA state title while the Bishops went 28-0 and won the High School League’s Class AA state championship.

The Bishops weren’t at full strength, coach Paul Runey said.

Three players were out of town for the holidays, including one starter, while a couple of Bishops were battling colds.

Oakton star Elizabeth Manner scored 29 points to lead all scorers, while Karlie Cronin scored 13. Mary Harriet Moore led Bishop England, 6-2, with 12 points. Michele Boykin added 10.

Pinewood Prep coach Nancy Beatty felt her team played well, although she wasn’t happy with the turnovers.

“Maybe it because we played at 9:30 (a.m.),” said Beatty, whose team improved to 8-3 with the victory. “It’s tough when you are not used to playing in the morning. But this is a tournament, and we love playing in tournaments so we have to be ready.”

The Panthers played in last week’s Crescent Holiday Invitational in Myrtle Beach, and Beatty said it was a good experience to get her team ready for this tournament, SCISA region play and the state tournament, which caps the season in late February.

Pinewood Prep won the SCISA Class AAA state title last winter and is poised to make another run at the title. There is experience and depth everywhere.

Raygon Hendrix led the Panthers with 20 points while Brianna Boyd added 14.

Danesha McRay led Cheraw with 13 and Crystal Owens added 12.

Today’s Schedule

At Hanahan

Atlantic Division

St. James vs. Summerville, 9:30 a.m.

Northwood vs. Wakefield . 11 a.m.

Hanahan vs. Amelia Academy, 2 p.m.

Southern Peninsula vs. Franklin Rd., 3:30 p.m.

Coastal Division

North Myrtle Beach vs. Byrnes, 3:30 p.m.

Clover vs. Greenbrier, 5 p.m.

Southside vs. Halifax, 6:30 p.m.

Oconee County vs. Wando, 8 p.m.

At St. John’s

Patriot Division

Andrews vs. Baptist Hill, 9:30 a.m.

Cane Bay vs. Burke, 11 a.m.

Beaufort vs. Cross, 12:30 p.m.

First Baptist vs. Berkeley, 2 p.m.

Harbor Division

James Island Christian vs. Timberland, 3:30 p.m.

Catholic vs. Palmetto Christian, 5 p.m.

At Bishop England

Island Division

Goose Creek vs. Wheeler, 3:30 p.m.

Digital Harbor vs. St. John the Baptist, 5 p.m.

Palmetto Division

Northwestern vs. Cheraw, 9:30 a.m.

Pinewood Prep vs. Seneca, 11 a.m.

West Charlotte vs. Bishop England, 12:30 p.m.

Oakton vs. Wade Hampton, 2 p.m.