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Carlisle vs Southwestern Boys Basketball

South Western's Spencer McKercher, left, and Carlisle's J.D. Hughes in last year's Carlisle Classic.

Finally, the season is upon us.

It’s going to be another exciting year for basketball in the Mid-Penn. And as usual, things get kicked off with a solid slate of tip-off tournaments to get the basketball juices flowing.

So here’s a look at some of the key matchups for the Sentinel-area teams this weekend, mainly Friday. I’ll project a bit into Saturday but that’s tough to tell.

Carlisle Classic

Mechanicsburg vs. Hatboro-Horsham

Carlisle vs. South Western

The marquee tournament of the night has to be the Carlisle Classic. Two area schools compete, with a shot to square off in the championship matchup on Saturday.

Mechanicsburg gets to unveil a squad that returns four seniors that last year dropped 27 points per game. Obviously the first games for any team are an exhibition in tinkering, so it’ll be interesting to see how coach Bob Strickler matches up his backcourt with his already stable frontcourt.

For Carlisle, it’s obviously about defending home court right out of the gate. But there’s a little added incentive, as the school will be honoring the 1988 squad that went 33-0 and won the state title. There’s going to be a lot of pressure, but they may not play in front of a better home crowd the rest of the regular season so they’ll want to take advantage.

Fans of the Mid-Penn have to hope for a championship matchup between the two squads. What a great early test that would be for both of them.

Paul Corby Tip-Off Tournament

Boiling Springs vs. Northern

The Bubblers now belong to two seniors, Eric Contreras and Austin Pittenger. On the flip side, the Polar Bears are going to be spending the first few games figuring out who fits where and where the points will come from after losing their entire starting lineup from a year ago. Not a recipe for a first-game win.

Boiling Springs is more battle-tested and has the best shot to springboard this game into a tournament championship game Saturday. Northern’s best chance is for the new crop of seniors to jell quickly.

Hershey Tip-Off Tournament

Cumberland Valley vs. Milton Hershey

Have to put on a squad led by the duo of seniors Matt Tamanosky and Gray Kline. Tamanosky averaged double digits last year and will be vital this season. It’ll be a good first look at him and his partner in crime, Kline, who is expected to play the role of Robin for the Eagles.

But they get a tough opening bout against a Spartans squad expected to compete in the top of the Capital division again with Steel-High.

Big Spring vs. East Pennsboro

Lebanon Tip-Off Tournament

West Perry vs. Muhlenberg

Two more matchups round out the preview, this time focusing on two new coaches taking over two squads.

Jason Creek jumped ship from West Perry to the Bulldogs to take over his alma mater, a situation he couldn’t pass up. That opened the door for Tom Smeigh to run the Mustangs, another alum returning to his stomping ground.

Neither coach is in an ideal situation this season, although Creek did some impressive things in his lone year with the Mustangs which may give Smeigh a leg up for the time being.

But West Perry faces an uphill climb almost every game as they desperate lack in height. And right away they get a Muhlenberg squad that has the size to immediately test Smeigh’s new defense-first approach. They’ll need some turnovers to get their transition game going, which is their only chance.

Like Smeigh, nearly three-quarters of Creek’s squad is made of freshmen and sophomores. They’re first test, in a rare non-tournament game, is against a Panthers squad that went 7-7 in the Capital last year. Panthers coach Tim Bean lost some key contributors from last season, but they still look like they’re going in as the favorites in this game.

This weekend's schedule:

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Dec. 6

•Mechanicsburg vs. Hatboro-Horsham at Carlisle Classic, 5:30

•West Perry vs. Muhlenberg at Lebanon Tip-off Tournament, 6

•Shippensburg vs. New Oxford at Gettysburg Tip-off Tournament, 6

•Cumberland Valley vs. Milton Hershey at Hershey Tournament, 6

•Camp Hill vs. Conrad Weiser at Bermudian Springs Tip-off Tournament, 6:30

•Big Spring at East Pennsboro, 7:30

•Cedar Cliff at Gettysburg at Gettysburg Tip-off Tournament, 7:30

•Northern at Boiling Springs at Paul Corby Tip-off Tournament, 7:45

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•Susquenita at Tulpehocken at Tulpehocken Tip-off Tournament, 7:45

•Harrisburg Academy vs. Millersburg at Harrisburg Christian Tournament, 8:30

•South Western at Carlisle at Carlisle Classic, 8:30

•West Shore Christian at Lancaster County Christian Tournament

Dec. 7

•Halifax at Big Spring, 2:30

•Hempfield at Red Land, 2:30

•Trinity at York Catholic, 4:30

•Northern, Boiling Springs at Paul Corby Tip-off Tournament, 6

•Camp Hill at Bermudian Springs Tip-off Tournament

•Mechanicsburg, Carlisle at Carlisle Classic

•Cedar Cliff, Shippensburg at Gettysburg Tip-off Tournament

•Cumberland Valley at Hershey Tournament

•Susquenita at Tulpehocken Tip-off Tournament

•West Perry at Lebanon Tip-off Tournament

•Harrisburg Academy at Harrisburg Christian Tournament

•West Shore Christian at Lancaster County Christian Tournament

Email Jake Adams at jadams@cumberlink.com or follow him on Twitter @jakeadams520

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