Classic at Damien is ground zero for boys’ basketball mania

Sierra Canyon’s BJ Boston attempts a shot against Santa Clarita Christian’s Kaleb Lowery, left, and Caden Starr during a game at CSUN’s Matadome.
Sierra Canyon’s BJ Boston attempts a shot against Santa Clarita Christian’s Kaleb Lowery, left, and Caden Starr during a game at Cal State Northridge’s Matadome. Boston will be playing in the Classic at Damien starting on Thursday.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Fans, coaches and players ought to go up to Damien coach Mike LeDuc and offer to shake his hand after what he has pulled off. Beginning the day after Christmas, the Classic at Damien will launch with 80 basketball teams competing in five divisions at seven gyms.

That’s insanity wanting to be in charge of a such an endeavor. What happened to taking it easy after Christmas?

“It’s unbelievable how much work it is,” LeDuc said.

LeDuc loves it and wants others to enjoy it too. Admission is $15 each day and gets you in to all games. Damien’s gym in La Verne seats 2,500, so you can come early and stay late.

From Chatsworth Sierra Canyon to Etiwanda, from Fairfax to Lake Balboa Birmingham, from Bellflower St. John Bosco to L.A. Windward — top schools are here. The matchups in early rounds would be championship games at some tournaments.

North Hills Heritage Christian and guard Skyy Clark are in the Gold Division, along with Santa Clarita Christian, West Hills Chaminade, Rolling Hills Prep and Valencia.


As much work as it takes to put together such a huge tournament, which is in its fourth year, LeDuc said the preparation is most challenging. After the tournament begins, “everything goes fast.”

“I enjoy it and I hope people appreciate it,” he said. “We try to do it right and try to make a great experience for the teams.”

Games will be played Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday. The Platinum semifinals on Saturday are 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at Damien and will be televised by KDOC. The final is Monday at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox Sports West’s Prep Zone.

There’s also major tournaments in San Diego, the San Fernando Valley, the Inland Empire, Ventura County and pretty much everywhere else.

Adding intrigue is that some players who have sat out the opening month of the season after transferring without moving could be making their debuts on Monday. That includes Ziaire Williams of Sierra Canyon, who transferred from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and is California’s top unsigned college prospect.

Among the possible early matchups at Damien are Sierra Canyon vs. Birmingham on Friday at 7 p.m. and Windward vs. Fairfax or St. John Bosco on Friday at 5:30 p.m. But that’s speculation. Every game is tough to predict.

“This is an incredible field,” said LeDuc, who also will be busy coaching his own Damien team in the tournament.

Here’s the link to the complete list of tournaments this coming week courtesy