Chalmette boys basketball coach Butch Stockton was expecting to return three starters from a season ago.

Instead, he ended up with just one.

One player moved to Texas. The other decided to concentrate on baseball.

“When that happens, you just look for the next player to step up,” Stockton said. “We started out a little slow, but we feel like we are starting to pick up a little bit as we get some more experience.”

The Owls are 5-5, including a big 64-50 victory over Holy Cross on Friday.

Stockton is hoping to carry some momentum from that win into the Chalmette High/ Varero Christmas Classic. The eight-team tournament, in its 22nd year, starts Thursday and ends Saturday.

Chalmette opens the tournament at 3 p.m. Thursday when it faces South Plaquemine.

Also in the tournament are Salmen, Higgins, Jesuit, East Ascension, St. Augustine and Northshore.

“We feel real good about the field this year,” Stockton said. “We feel like we have eight quality basketball teams.”

Higgins beat Brother Martin in last year’s championship game.

Stockton said Chalmette hasn’t won the tournament since before Hurricane Katrina. To change that, he’ll rely on players like Brent Bailey, the lone returning starter.

Keith Williams, a 6-foot-6 post player, gives the Owls a strong inside presence. Williams scored 14 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had five blocks in the win against Holy Cross.

“He is really doing a good job rebounding and scoring for us,” Stockton said.

Bailey and Williams are joined in the lineup by the sophomore backcourt of point guard Carlton Campbell, sophomore shooting guard Glenshawn Amos and junior small forward Jeremiah Flot.

Amos scored 24 points in the win over Holy Cross and Flot had 14.

“The guys really stepped up and played well in a tough environment.” Stockton said.

Other top players in the tournament include Higgins’ forward Melvin Frazier, rated among the top 100 players in the country; Jesuit’s duo of Trey LaForge and Foster Moreau, St. Augustine’s Shaquille Duncan and Charles Brown, Northshore’s K.J. Hopkins and Matt Benedict, and East Ascension freshman Shedrick Smith.