Boys high school basketball — both regular-season and Thanksgiving tournaments — explode onto the area sports scene starting tonight.

Thanksgiving tournaments at Effingham St. Anthony, Grayville, Mulberry Grove, Cumberland and Herrin begin tonight. Tournament play opens at Villa Grove and Decatur on Tuesday with the Capital Classic slated for Friday and Saturday.

There is also a smattering of regular season games including homecoming games at Teutopolis and Stewardson-Strasburg on Wednesday.

What is expected to be one of the top Thanksgiving tournaments begins tonight at the Enlow Center.

All six teams in the field could wind up being area powers by the time the season is over.

Led by 6-foot-7 Andrew Shick and 6-foot-5 transfer Matt Miller, Charleston enters the tournament — as well as the Apollo Conference — as the team to beat.

However, the Trojans may be challenged by tonight's opening (5 p.m.) rival Taylorville, which many feel will be a challenger in the Central States Eight Conference race.

Dieterich, led by 6-foot-5 senior powerhouse Cliff Westendorf plays Vandalia in tonight's second game, set for 6:30 p.m. Dieterich is the overwhelming choice to win the Midland Trail Conference title and Vandalia is the primary threat in the South Central Conference East Division.

The final game tonight pits host Effingham St. Anthony against Flora in a rematch of the 2005 Newton Class A Sectional championship game. Flora has one of its biggest teams in years while St. Anthony is young but returns one of the tournament's top guards in Chris Bohnhoff.

The St. Anthony tournament continues Tuesday and Wednesday and completes play Saturday with a double session.

Midland Trail Conference rivals Cisne and Clay City are entered in the Grayville Thanksgiving Tournament which also includes New Harmony, Ind., Carmi-White County, Galatia, Grayville and Norris City-Omaha-Enfield.

That meet also continues Tuesday and Wednesday then ends Friday and Saturday.

The Mulberry Grove Turkey Tournament has Brownstown of the National Trail Conference entered as well as Odin and Sandoval of the Midland Trail. Mulberry Grove and Mt. Olive round out the field.

Two games open play in that tournament tonight with Mt. Olive facing Brownstown at 6:15 p.m. before arch-rivals Odin and Sandoval clash at 7:45 p.m.

The tournament continues Tuesday and Wednesday then resumes Friday before ending Saturday.

St. Elmo, which figures to be a contender in the National Trail Conference this year, heads the five-team Cumberland Thanksgiving Tournament which opens tonight. The event also has games Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

In tonight's openers, Hutsonville/Palestine plays Noble at 6 p.m. before Cumberland battles Beecher City in the nightcap. St. Elmo opens play Tuesday against Beecher City.

The Villa Grove Tournament begins play Tuesday and continues Wednesday and Friday. Friday's schedule shows eight games to be played.

Salem of the Apollo Conference is entered in the Pyramid Plus Tournament which starts tonight. The Wildcats will face Herrin at 7 p.m. today then play Marion at the same time Tuesday. They will face Eldorado, also at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Salem meets Massac County at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and Johnston City at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Mount Zion will play in the Decatur Turkey Tournament beginning Tuesday. The defending Apollo Conference champions don't play until Wednesday when it faces Joliet Township at 6 p.m.

Windsor plays at Stew-Stras in a homecoming match Wednesday while Teutopolis hosts South Central. The Cougars are a new opponent for the Wooden Shoes for homecoming after many years of hosting Neoga.

The Capital Classic, played at Red Hill (Bridgeport) and Lawrenceville, will be played Saturday and Sunday. Teutopolis is the defending champion.

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