November 29, 2021

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2021 City of Palms Classic to debut a 35-second shot clock, a test run for the FHSAA

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The countdown is on for the Culligan City of Palms Classic in December, and it will be for the players too.

The star-studded national high school basketball tournament plans to debut a 35-second shot clock after receiving approval from the FHSAA on Monday, according to tournament director Donnie Wilkie. 

“After 48 years, we can always use some new flavors, and this definitely fits that description,” Wilkie said.

The FHSAA’s approval of the City of Palm’s request for the shot clock indicates an interest in permitting shot clocks more regularly in high school basketball games in the state, which it does not now. 

“The FHSAA appears to be eager to find as many test cases as possible, so they can take this to their membership in the spring and say, ‘Here’s the data we collected,’” Wilkie said.

READ: Montverde, IMG, Milton, Oak Hill, AZ Compass Prep to headline 2021 City of Palms Classic

The tournament also released its 37-game schedule on Tuesday, giving fans a look at the juicy match-ups in store this year. 

The 2021 edition will be held from Dec. 17 to Dec. 22 at Suncoast Credit Union Arena, a year after the pandemic forced the tournament to be canceled for the first time in its history. 

MORE: City of Palms Classic canceled due to health, safety concerns about COVID-19 pandemic

Headlining teams Montverde, IMG Academy and Oak Hill (Va.) are slated to play in consecutive games on the night of Dec. 18. 

SFCA, which reached the Class 2A state semifinal in Lakeland last season, will represent Lee County and play on the tournament’s first day. SFCA will face Miami Columbus in the Hugh Thimlar Tribute Game on Dec. 17.

Mike Bonilla, the King’s head coach, praised the introduction of the shot clock at this year’s event.

“I love the idea,” he said. “I think it’ll help our kids get a better feel for the game, next level-wise.”

Bonilla added that he would “absolutely” be interested in having it as an option in high school games if the FHSAA permitted it.

“All those programs that run a stall offense and try to slow the game down, that’ll kind of cut all of that out,” he said. “I’m all about trying to prepare the kids at the next level.”

Other highlights include the three-point shootout and slam dunk contest to be held on Dec. 19.

The tournament will feature eight of the nation’s top 20 seniors and nine of the top 20 juniors, according to ESPN and Rivals rankings. AZ Compass Prep (Ariz.), playing in the four-team Signature Series, and Milton (Ga.) gives the tournament five of the squads that competed at the 2021 GEICO Nationals, which were also held at Suncoast Credit Union Arena earlier this year.

“This field is stacked because it’s continued to get better and better through the summer,” Wilkie said. 

Culligan City of Palms Classic Game-by-Game Schedule

All games at Suncoast Credit Union Arena, Summerlin Road & FSW Parkway, Fort Myers Home team (white uniforms) is team on left

Friday, Dec. 17 (five games)

2:15 p.m. (Game 1): Greensboro Day (N.C.) vs. Calvary Christian (Fla.)

4:00 p.m. (Game 2): Orlando Christian Prep (Fla.) vs. St. John’s (D.C.)

5:45 p.m. (Game 3-Hugh Thimlar Tribute): SFCA vs. Columbus (Fla.)

7:45 p.m. (Game 4): Charlotte (Fla.) vs. Milton (Ga.)

9:30 p.m. (Game 5): Whitney Young (Ill.) vs. Gill St. Bernard’s (N.J.)

Saturday, Dec. 18 (seven games)

10:30 a.m. (Game 6): Consolation: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser

12:10 p.m. (Game 7): : Dr. Phillips (Fla.) vs. North Little Rock (Ark.)

1:50 p.m. (Game 8-Sunshine Series): Tampa Catholic (Fla.) vs. Norland (Fla.)

3:30 p.m. (Game 9-Sunshine Series): Life Christian (Fla.) vs. Choctawhatchee (Fla.)

5:15 p.m. (Game 10): Bradenton IMG Academy (Fla.) vs. Lilburn Berkmar (Ga.)

7:00 p.m. (Game 11): Montverde Academy (Fla.) vs. Ballard (Ky.)

8:45 p.m. (Game 12): Oak Hill Academy (Va.) vs. Isidore Newman (La.)

Sunday, Dec. 19 (four games)

12:00 p.m. (Game 13): Consolation: Game 12 loser vs. Game 5 loser

1:45 p.m. (Game 14-Signature Series): Victory Rock (Fla.) vs. AZ Compass Prep (Ariz.)

3:30 p.m. (Game 15-Signature Series): Combine Academy (N.C.) vs. Crestwood (Ont.)

5:15 p.m. (Game 16): Quarterfinal: Game 12 winner vs. Game 5 winner

6:40 p.m.: Bahama Breeze 45-second Challenge

6:50 p.m.: Joe North Three-Point Shootout

7:30 p.m.: Edison National Bank Slam Dunk Championship

Monday, Dec. 20 (seven games)

10:30 a.m. (Game 17): Consolation: Game 7 loser vs. Game 4 loser

12:10 p.m. (Game 18): Consolation: Game 11 loser vs. Game 10 loser

1:50 p.m. (Game 19-Sunshine Series): Game 9 loser vs. Game 8 loser

3:30 p.m. (Game 20-Sunshine Series): Gm 8 winner vs. Gm 9 winner

5:15 p.m. (Game 21): Quarterfinal: Game 4 winner vs. Game 1 winner

7:00 p.m. (Game 22): Quarterfinal: Game 10 winner vs. Game 2 winner

8:45 p.m. (Game 23): Quarterfinal: Game 11 winner vs. Game 7 winner

Tuesday, Dec. 21 (eight games)

9:00 a.m. (Game 24): Consolation semifinal: Game 6 winner vs. Game 13 winner

10:40 a.m. (Game 25): Consolation semifinal: Game 17 winner vs. Game 17 winner

12:20 p.m. (Game 26-Signature Series Third-Place): Game 15 loser vs. Game 14 loser

2:00 p.m. (Game 27): Fifth-place semifinal: Game 22 loser vs. Game 21 loser

3:45 p.m. (Game 28): Fifth-place semifinal: Game 23 loser vs. Game 16 loser

5:30 p.m. (Game 29-Signature Series Championship): Game 14 winner vs. Game 15 winner

7:15 p.m. (Game 30): Semifinal: Game 23 winner vs. Game 16 winner

9:00 p.m. (Game 31): Semifinal: Game 22 winner vs. Game 21 winner

Wednesday, Dec. 22 (six games)

11:30 a.m. (Game 32): Challenge-round game: Game 6 loser vs. Game 18 loser

1:15 p.m. (Game 33): Consolation championship: Game 24 winner vs. Game 25 winner

3:00 p.m. (Game 34): Fifth-Place Championship: Game 28 winner vs. Game 27 winner

4:45 p.m. (Game 35): Challenge-round game: Game 16 loser vs. Game 13 loser

6:30 p.m. (Game 36): Third-Place Championship: Game 30 loser vs. Game 31 loser

8:15 p.m. (Game 37): City of Palms Championship: Game 31 winner vs. Game 30 winner

Follow News-Press Sports Reporter Dustin Levy on Twitter: @DustinBLevy. For additional coverage of sports across Southwest Florida, follow @newspresssports and @ndnprepzone on Instagram.

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