Alumni Plaza the center of the Dowagiac campus


Tri-State Holiday Classic

SMC introducing Tri-State Holiday Classic Dec. 17

Published on December 6, 2022 - 10 a.m.

Southwestern Michigan College Athletics hosts an inaugural all-day girls high-school basketball event, the Tri-State Holiday Classic, on Saturday, Dec. 17, featuring eight teams playing five games.

Participants include Benton Harbor, Dowagiac Union, Edwardsburg, Lawton and Niles from Michigan, Elkhart and South Bend Riley from Indiana and Illinois’ Hillcrest High School, which sent Cameron Thomas to the Roadrunners. Games start at 10:30 a.m. in 1st Source Bank Fieldhouse on SMC’s Dowagiac campus.

Title sponsor Blue Wolf, LLC, was founded by Native American brothers David and Jeff Molnar to bring opportunity, economic empowerment and a voice to the tribal community.

Blue Wolf recently completed large land-management projects in Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia for clients such as Enbridge.

Through its environmental management efforts, Blue Wolf helps preserve forests and wetlands for future generations.

“I wanted our women’s basketball program to bring high school basketball to our campus from our surrounding communities to play out-of-state teams,” Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jeanine Wasielewski said. “Next year we’ll add the guys. There are no event management duties for the high schools, and the teams get to experience the fieldhouse’s college atmosphere. Coaches loved the idea of bringing their teams to campus, and we love the idea of giving back to our communities and their fans who sent us players,” including Niles and Edwardsburg.

“We definitely want to grow it,” perhaps to two days between Christmas and New Year’s in 2023 so players will be on holiday break. She said visitors from Indiana and Illinois are allowed to play twice, hence, the fifth game.

Riley, for example, will play both Dowagiac and Niles, while Hillcrest takes on Benton Harbor and Lawton.

Wasielewski started contacting teams nine months ago. “I want it to be competitive for them so I’ve tried to match them evenly. I’d love over time to get sponsors and provide entertainment, but we’re keeping it simple for the first one. I’m super excited that we’re pulling it off. My players are excited, too, to be hosting and volunteering.”

Lawton’s coach, Jeremy Macon, reached out to her. The Dowagiac native attended DUHS, 1994-97, and SMC, 1997-98.

Leading off at 10:30 a.m. will be Niles vs. Riley, followed by:

  • 12:45 p.m., Lawton vs. Hillcrest.
  • 3, Dowagiac vs. Riley.
  • 5:15, Benton Harbor vs. Hillcrest.
  • 7:30, Edwardsburg vs. Elkhart.

Doors open at 10 a.m. with $5 daily admission. Ages 12 and under are free. High school/SMC students are admitted free with student ID.