FAIRBANKS (AP) -- With warm-weather schools in Hawaii and Puerto Rico competing to draw top-notch basketball teams to their own tournaments, Top of the World Classic organizers can't offer enough northern hospitality.
Fairbanks families and students rolled out the red carpet last week, and the welcome included dogsled rides and even visits to St. Nick's lap for the visiting NCAA Division I schools.
A Fairbanks-area school sponsors each team, inviting players and coaches to pep rallies, providing a place to practice and sending cheerleading squads to perform during games.
''We want to make this a unique tournament. We want to make it as special for the teams as we can,'' said Cliff Allison, vice chairman of the tournament committee.
It's also a good gig for the cheerleaders.
''They get to perform in front of a Division I coach and basketball team. It's pretty huge,'' Allison said.
Ryan Middle School created a temporary cheerleading team just to help root for the South Florida Bulls.
''I think it's a lot of fun for the kids, and especially for the schools that don't normally have cheerleaders,'' said Cindy Branley, director of the UAF Alumni Association and a co-host of the Bulls.
South Florida players checked out the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and visited Santa Claus House in North Pole on Friday.
At pep rallies, players played games with students, signed autographs and spoke about what it takes to be a Division I athlete.
''It was a lot of fun to see what it's like for the players to come up, to see how hard they have to work for their studies,'' said Greg Corbett of North Pole. Corbett and his family hosted Indiana State University last year and Colorado this week.
Hosts often steer teams toward mushing.
''Most of them did pretty good. A lot of them made it around without falling off. And then a lot of them wiped out big time,'' said team host Anita Thompson, shortly after assisting UAF and Austin Peay players ride a dog sled at Jeff Studdert Racegrounds.
''They enjoyed it. Most of them went more than once,'' she said. ''I think they almost wanted to wipe out, except for how cold they would get.''
Moderate weather made outdoor activities possible. Jackson State Head Coach Andy Stogin told his host that four of his players had never seen snow. But schools from cooler climates, such as Utah State and Colorado, were unfazed by Fairbanks temperatures.
''Most of them were really surprised when they got off the plane Monday night. When they had left Boulder on Monday morning, it had been about 20 degrees out, so it was a little bit colder there than it is here,'' Corbett said.
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