PREP BASKETBALL: Annual Nevada Union Invitational Tournament set to tipoff Thursday | TheUnion.com

PREP BASKETBALL: Annual Nevada Union Invitational Tournament set to tipoff Thursday

It's that time of year once again, when high school hoops teams from all over the region make their way to Albert Ali Gymnasium for the annual Nevada Union Invitational Tournament.

"We only have nine home games, 10 if you include the Foundation Game, so for us it's a rare opportunity to be at home," Nevada Union head coach Mark Casey said. "I think we're going to have some chances. There are some really good teams, but not one team is designed to blow us out. Despite our missing pieces we do some good stuff…I'm excited to see what we can do this weekend."

In addition to Nevada Union's boys basketball team, the tourney will feature squads from El Camino (Sacramento), Will C. Wood (Vacaville), Burbank (Sacramento), Enterprise (Redding), River Valley (Yuba City), Whitney (Rocklin), Reno and Priory (Portola Valley).

As the host team, the Miners will tipoff the tournament at 1:45 p.m. Thursday against Enterprise.

The game will not be open to the public because it takes place during school hours. All other games throughout the tourney will be open to the public.

Nevada Union is off to a solid start to the new season, earning wins in three of their first four games.

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The Miners, who last won the NUIT in 2015, come into the contest on a three-game winning streak behind strong play from senior guard Jack Fraser, sophomore guard Justin Gardner, junior forward Dawson Fay and senior guard Hayden Fay.

"It's one of the more athletic teams we've had," Casey said of this season's crop of Miners. "We're not a big team. So far there hasn't been a single game where we were the bigger team. But, many games we've been more athletic. Both Fay brothers are extremely quick and very athletic. Justin Gardner, a sophomore, is turning into a handful for people, and of course you got Jack Fraser, a returning All-SFL kid. Despite our lack of size and depth we're finding ways to put games together and we've had some success the last three games.

The Miners have also been strong defensively early on, holding three of their four opponents to less than 40 points.

The Enterprise Hornets are coming off a 2016-17 season in which they went 11-16 overall, including a 0-3 run at last year's NUIT.

The second game of the opening round will feature the Wildcats from Will C. Wood taking on the El Camino Eagles at 3:15 p.m. The Wildcats went 21-7 last season, including a run to the NUIT championship game where they lost to Burbank.

The Titans from Burbank are back to defend their title, and will open with River Valley at 4:45 p.m.

Burbank is coming off a 27-5 campaign a season ago, and is off to a 3-0 start this season.

The Falcons from River Valley lost their first game of the NUIT last season, but finished with back-to-back victories to win the consolation side of the bracket. The Falcons do have a NUIT championship to their credit, beating the Miners in the 2014 final.

Reno and Whitney will close the opening day of the tourney with a 6:15 p.m. tipoff. The Reno Huskies went 2-1 at last year's NUIT with their only loss coming against Burbank.

Due to a last minute cancellation, Whitney will only play in the first round and will be replaced by Priory for the remainder of the tourney.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

Game 1: Nevada Union vs. Enterprise, 1:45 p.m.

Game 2: El Camino vs. Will C. Wood, 3:15 p.m.

Game 3: Burbank vs. River Valley, 4:45 p.m.

Game 4: Whitney vs. Reno, 6:15 p.m.

All games will be played at Albert Ali Gymnasium