The days of holiday basketball tournaments are in the past, but fans can still get a full plate of hoops for four straight days over school vacation week.

The Red Claws Christmas Showcase provides 28 high school games at the Portland Expo starting at 1 p.m. Monday and ending late Thursday night. The schedule is predetermined. Most of the games are exhibitions but there some regular-season matchups are mixed in.

The proceeds benefit the Portland High boys’ and girls’ basketball boosters club. Daily admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students, with fans free to come and go. Watch a game or two or get all eight (on Wednesday) for the same price.

“The old days you used to have eliminations and then an eventual champion,” said Portland boys’ coach Joe Russo. “We had to change that because the MPA limited the number of games, or I should say dates, each school could have for non-countable games.”

Schools are allowed five dates for scrimmages or exhibitions. Most schools use at least three in the preseason. Some, like Portland, scheduled four.

Now coaches use the Red Claws Showcase – and the Capital City tournament at the Augusta Civic Center – to keep teams sharp and get them on a court where state tournament games are held.

The Deering boys’ team has an interesting week planned. The Rams have a “home” regular-season game in Augusta on Tuesday against Bangor, play an exhibition at the Expo on Wednesday against Brunswick, then travel to Sanford on Thursday to make up a postponed regular-season game.

“These days kids are conditioned to play a lot of games,” said Deering Coach Todd Wing. “They do it in the summertime when they’ll play two, three games in a day. They’re in the prime of their lives.”

Wing said he especially wanted to get a game at the Augusta Civic Center, where the AA North regional will be held. Last season, Deering didn’t play on that court until the state tourney.

“I want them to know where the scoreboards are, what the shooting backdrop feels like,” Wing said. “It’s little things. Like if we had played at the (Augusta) Civic Center prior to last year’s regional, I would have known that in the locker room they didn’t have whiteboards, they had chalkboards. I would have known to bring a stick of chalk.”

York hosted its own holiday tournament through 2014. Wildcats boys’ coach Randy Small said one reason for the change was to get his then-youthful team an opportunity to play at the Expo. Also, it was becoming harder to fill a tournament field.

“It’s pretty tough, especially if some games get snowed out, then they try to sneak them in over Christmas. If I have my own holiday tournament and someone has to do a makeup game, it messes with the schedule,” he said.

With the current format, Small knows York will get quality exhibition games and all of his players can get time at the Expo. Plus, he has time for his own makeup game, hosting Falmouth on Dec. 31.

For Falmouth, the Red Claws Showcase has become an alternative venue to play two regular-season games that had been postponed. The Yachtsmen play Westbrook on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Cape Elizabeth on Thursday at 5 p.m.

“It’s a really tight year when it comes to scheduling,” said James Coffey, Falmouth’s athletic director. “It was really the only dates we can do it without playing back-to-back games.”

A TOTAL of 24 boys’ teams and nine girls’ squads are scheduled to participate in the Red Claws Showcase.

“For the basketball junkie there’s still plenty of exciting games,” Russo said.

The Portland boys’ two games will both be exhibitions, both on Wednesday against out-of-state teams. The Bulldogs face Spaulding of Rochester, New Hampshire, at 12:30 p.m. and Greenwich, Connecticut, at 8.

Monday’s schedule features six boys’ games, including some intriguing crossover games. The tournament starts with Class A South power Greely against Class AA North Cheverus at 1 p.m. Later in the day, Cheverus will play Class B South power Yarmouth.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday has both boys’ and girls’ games.

The Portland girls have two Class AA regular-season contests: Tuesday against Sanford (1 p.m.) and Thursday’s 8 p.m. finale with Gorham.

They will play Class B Lisbon on Wednesday morning in an exhibition.

TUESDAY NIGHT’S girls’ game between Class AA South power Gorham and Class A South power Greely lived up to all expectations.

Gorham won 67-64 at home behind sophomore center Mackenzie Holmes’ 32-point effort. But the Rangers showed they can play with anyone, given their ability to hit the 3-pointer (13 in the game) and create turnovers (23) with their in-your-face defense.

It was certainly one of the more entertaining games of the young season, with both teams going at each other with a playoff intensity.

Both teams learned a lot about themselves.

“We’ve certainly got some competitive girls,” said Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume. “We’ve had a couple of very difficult games to start (including a 44-31 defensive battle with South Portland earlier). This is only our third game. It’s been excellent for us. It’s shown us we have a lot to work on. We have things to improve but I like how my girls compete and how they play together.”

One thing the Rams will work on is cutting down on turnovers. They also had 15 against South Portland. And against Greely, Gorham would build a lead, then watch it be whittled down.

“In those stretches when we had scoring spurts, we weren’t turning the ball over,” said Berthiaume. “And in the stretches that (Greely) had spurts, they forced the turnovers. They pressured us and we didn’t handle it as well as I would have wanted us to.”

Todd Flaherty, Greely’s first-year coach, said the Rangers obviously wanted to win but also wanted to measure themselves against the Rams, who have won 24 consecutive games.

“We came here to win but at the same time, as a coach, we came in to see what we needed to work on,” said Flaherty. “Obviously a great team like Gorham will expose what your weaknesses are. Now we have something to work on in practice next week.”

Flaherty was impressed with Gorham’s overall game. While Holmes and Emily Esposito receive much of the credit, the Rams are talented across the court.

“They’re more than just a two-horse show,” said Flaherty. “They know how to play and they’re well balanced. They’re tough to play against.”

Esposito said the Rams learned that they need to get the ball to Holmes in a good spot. She was held to two points in the win against South Portland.

“I think we could have done a better job getting her the ball (against South Portland),” she said. “It’s about realizing that no one can really stop Kenzie inside. We can go inside-out. We have a very diverse team. It’s a matter of if we use it or not.”