Holiday tournaments prepare to make comeback

NASHUA – Welcome back, holiday basketball.

It’s been almost three years, and yes, it’s been missed. The return of a holiday basketball tournament hosted by the Nashua athletic department may not have the pizzazz of the former Chick-Fil-A Holiday Festival, but it’s a start.

Holiday basketball in the area was wiped out by COVID in 2020, and last year, while the pandemic may have also been a factor, the new schedule format for Division I was the chief reason there was no Nashua tourney because many teams had regular season games over the holiday break. Those that didn’t took part in a some tourneys elsewhere.

But this year, a week or so has been added to the schedule, so teams will be able to take that break and play holiday ball if they so chose.

Nashua says yes, so there will be a boys and girls four-team event at Nashua High School South. A low-key return, but a return nonetheless with Nashua North, South, Milford and Souhegan taking part in both.

The plan is for Wednesday-Thursday Dec. 28-29, with North and South boys and girls taking on either Milford or Souhegan in the semis and then the winners play in the finals (and losing teams in consolation games).

Simple and neat for a return. Friday, Dec. 30 has been reserved as a weather day in case of needed rescheduling. Remember, this event included as many as 10 schools involved between eight team events for both the girls and boys, as midway through the previous decade the two tourneys were combined under one umbrella.

“We’re happy that it’s coming back,” Nashua South athletics coordinator and boys basketball coach Nate Mazerolle said, as he and North coach Steve Lane worked to put it together. “And certainly loved the Chick-Fil-A for all the years we did it. That third day sometimes – it’s a lot. Now it’s just going to be two days, four schools.”

Mazerolle said that the athletic administration did not reach out to Chick-Fil-A because of the more low key nature of the event.

“We don’t have a corporate sponsor,” Mazerolle said. “We haven’t reached out to them, we’re trying to keep it low key, we just want to get a couple of games in and have something.

“Steve and I talked about it, reached out to Curt (North girls coach Dutilley) and John (South girls coach John Bourgeois), everyone’s on board, and Lisa (Nashua athletic director Gingras) certainly is.”

Thoughts of reviving a tourney began over the summer and perhaps as far back as last spring when it was learned that the pilot schedule of a year ago that had the Divisions I and II seasons done by Feb. 20 was being scrapped and the regular season now won’t end until Feb. 24.

“That was part of it,” Mazerolle said. “And knowing that last year’s schedule was so condensed, and we were going to have to play during the holidays, it wasn’t an option.

“Once we learned we were going back to almost the norm, once that determined, hey, if we can run a summer league, let’s do a low key, holiday tournament to get back in the mix.”

“Maybe it might expand, but right now, we’ll see how this year goes, but two days, that’s enough,” Mazerolle said. “It’s not a bad field, and we didn’t want to bring in other Divison I teams, because we didn’t want to see the teams we’ll play in the regular season.

“But anytime we can hopefully, the plan is always to get a North-South final for boys and girls, it’s not a foregone conclusion, but that’s the idea.”

Both Gingras and Mazerolle said that down the road sponsorship may be sought because the idea normally, besides getting time for the kids to play, is to raise funds.

“Any holiday tournament, it is a little bit of a fundraiser, and we’d like that,” Mazerolle said.

“But this is just to get our feet wet again, let’s get a couple of basketball games in, get it back, and see where we are from there.”


Last year Hollis Brookline picked up the puck when Nashua didn’t organize a tourney and had a three-day event at Conway Arena that culminated with an HB-Derryfield vs. Merrimack final with Merrimack taking the title.

Nashua North-Souhegan played in it but Nashua South-Pelham did not take part, playing in a tourney in Salem.

This year, both teams will participate with HB-Derryfield running it again, and the dates appear to be Dec. 27, 28 and 29 at Conway Arena.

It was perceived to be a well-run event last year, with a great crowd for the final. More info will be finalized as the event draws near.


Right now the Nashua High School North boys soccer team is on top of the world. Well, the city.

The Titans have beaten both Nashua South and Bishop Guertin and heading into a late week game with Londonderry had won six straight, winning eight of their firt 10 games.

Now October is upon us, and the tourney will begin later this month. Just where are the Titans in the minds of some?

“We still need to work on some things aand the discipline, but overall I think we’re playing good soccer and we still need to work on the next game,” North coach Jeremy Zelanes said. “We’re just excited for the next game and have to prepare for that.”

There is one fly in the ointment – a yellow fly. As of late this week, North had accumulated eight yellow cards, which puts them dangerously close to possibly requiring a hearing in front of the NHIAA sportsmanship committee.

Nearly half of those came in a game at Hanover, and a couple, according to some, have been procedural (like delay of game, etc.).

With five games left the Titans will need to be careful, especially with officials on the field.