MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - The holiday season in the Myrtle Beach area would not be complete without the annual Beach Ball Classic. This high school basketball tournament returns to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center Dec. 26 through Dec. 31, 2013. It is preceded by the women's Crescom Bank Holiday Invitational, which runs Dec. 17 through Dec. 21.

This year's crop features 16 high school men's and women's teams each from across the eastern and southern states. They will compete in over 30 games across several days of basketball excitement.

"We're so pleased to have another tournament that showcases outstanding men's and women's high school basketball from across the country," said John Rhodes, executive director of the Beach Ball Classic and Mayor of the City of Myrtle Beach. "We welcome these athletes to our community, and encourage them to see all the area has to offer when not competing for that championship title."

The Beach Ball Classic started in 1981, with that inaugural tournament consisting of four in-state teams and four out-of-state teams.  It has since grown into the premier high school holiday tournament in the U.S.

Such NBA superstars as Kobe Bryant and Jason Kidd have previously participated in the Beach Ball Classic.

By 1998, a women's tournament was added as well. This year, the College of Charleston faces off against Coastal Carolina University, followed by the University of South Carolina versus the University of North Carolina. Both games in this Carolina Challenge are on Wednesday, Dec. 18.

A complete tournament schedule can be found at www.beachballclassic.com.