Sunday, December 30, 2007

You've seen the scores, so now the question: Who's No. 1?

Jackson is the boys basketball tournament champion at the Show Me Center. Hayti is the champ at Bloomfield. The Park Hills tournament will crown a winner Monday.

But in the next 24 hours, somebody has to rise to the top of the SemoSportsWeb Top 25 boys basketball poll. And we're looking for feedback.

Each week we get input from coaches, fans and the media to come up with our Top 25, and this one might be the toughest one of the season so far.

Bell City was No. 1 a week ago, but that was before the Cubs went 1-2 at the Show Me Center. Charleston was No. 2, then lost in a semifinal. Scott County Central was No. 3 and also lost short of the championship round. No. 4 Sikeston stumbled before the fourth day at Poplar Bluff and finished 3-1 there.

So whose run through the gauntlet over the past five days was more impressive? Was it Jackson's string of wins against Meadow Heights, Scott City, Cape Girardeau Central and Notre Dame? Or Hayti's wins against East Carter County, Portageville, Puxico and Doniphan? Or maybe a team that went 3-1 actually rose above the rest?

Who do you like?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Looking for surprises? So far, they're at Bloomfield

The Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament's first round was, at best, bland as burnt toast. The opening day of games at Park Hills produced a single upset, but a big one when 12th-seeded Ste. Genevieve knocked off fifth-seeded North County.

But the biggest eye-openers from Day 1 of Southeast Missouri's stretch of boys basketball Christmas tournaments came at Bloomfield, where three of the opening day's eight games ended with unlikely winners: fifth-seeded Dexter lost to Puxico, sixth-seeded Twin Rivers fell to South Pemiscot, and eighth-seeded Richland was knocked off by Portageville.

That sets up intriguing second-day matchups Thursday in the championship round, starting with top-seeded Hayti vs. Portageville at 4 p.m. Later games are ripe with rivalries: Bloomfield vs. league foe Puxico, and Bernie against nearby Malden. Thursday's other quarterfinal features Doniphan against South Pemiscot.

Predictions? Only about the weather, so take your umbrella if you're going to the night games. Aside from that, don't count out Portageville. Or, for that matter, underdogs Puxico, Bernie or South Pem. No tournament in Southeast Missouri is primed for an anything-goes finish like this one.

The Bob Sechrest Jr. Central Christmas Tournament at Park Hills might have produced the biggest surprise of the day when Ste. Genevieve bumped North County into the consolation round.

• In case Wednesday's opening-round games at Bloomfield, Park Hills, Saxony Lutheran, Cabool and the Show Me Center weren't enough, get ready for more today. In addition to a full day of games at each of those sites, tournaments kick off today for area teams at Poplar Bluff (which includes Poplar Bluff and Sikeston), Rolla (which features Festus and Salem) and Dyersburg, Tenn. (where NMCC's boys and Poplar Bluff's girls compete). Check out the links on our home page for the full schedules at each site.

• Check back throughout the day Thursday, Friday and Saturday for scores from each site updated as they come in. And thanks to everybody who already had helped us keep the latest scores posted, whether by sending them by e-mail ( or by text message from a cell phone (send to 573-979-5929 any time, 24 hours a day).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Summing up the state polls, local blogs and more

The state high school basketball polls released this week by the Associated Press show almost the exact same results as the first polls a year ago.

Last year, eight boys teams and six girls teams from across Southeast Missouri were in the first statewide poll of the season from the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, almost identical to this year when eight boys teams and five girls team were in today's first rankings of the season.

None of our region's teams are No. 1, but a couple are No. 2 (the South Iron and Bell City boys teams) are No. 2 in their classes, and the boys teams from Scott County Central, Charleston and Sikeston join the Naylor and Portageville girls teams in the top five.

A few other quick hits:

• If you haven't checked out Mark Unterreiner's blog, click here to see his take on last week's Sikeston-Notre Dame boys game, which set off several days of debate that hasn't let up. The rivalry between Notre Dame and Sikeston has become one of the most intense ones in the region, and there's a good chance the two teams will meet up again in the district tournament.

• The final list of area high school football leaders will finally find its spot online by the end of the week. The list is the only one to include all 33 high school football teams in the region.

• Last but not least: As part of our new high school scoreboard page (which followed the demise of the ticker on the home page), there's also a new e-mail to send local scores from the 80-plus schools in the area —

We'll also have a new number to send scores via text message on your cell phone in time for the Christmas tournaments that begin Dec. 26.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A big weekend for high school basketball -- on the court and off

Back-to-back championship nights highlight high school basketball this weekend, and it only gets busier from here through the end of December.

After knocking off the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Top 25, Charleston and Jackson face off at 8:30 p.m. tonight for the championship of the SEMO Conference Tournament. It's a game that should help set the schedule for the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament later this month; coaches meet Sunday to determine the bracket.

On Saturday, coaches meet early to pick the bracket for the 16-team Bloomfield Christmas Tournament, where Hayti has a slight edge over what shapes up as a remarkably competitive field.

Also Saturday, championships are on the line during the afternoon at the Chaffee Invititational for girls basketball teams, and finals are Saturday night at the Gene Steighorst Tournament for boys basketball teams at Hillsboro.

The busy weekend paves the way for a long list of tournaments and spotlight games through the month. Campbell, Clarkton and Ellington all host Christmas tournaments in the next two weeks, followed by traditional holiday tournaments at Park Hills, Bloomfield, Poplar Bluff and Cape Girardeau for boys and at Twin Rivers for girls. Single-day events include the Perryville Hoopfest on Dec. 15 and the startup Pepsi Showdown at the Show Me Center on Dec. 22. Click here to follow schedules for local tournaments in our forum.

Joe Bowling's new sports radio show on KYMO-FM 105.3 has already grown from a two-hour format to three hours in just three weeks on the air. This week's lineup includes the usual format with call-ins and discussion with local sports media and coaches, along with details about this weekend's Marshall County Hoop Fest in Benton, Ky. The event features 10 games Saturday, highlighted by top-ranked Oak Hill Academy and Chicago Whitney Young, which features Michael Jordan's son on the roster.

The show airs from 9 a.m. to noon each Saturday.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Wow, what a run so far for high school hoops

One of Missouri's longest losing streaks ended. An even longer one almost did.

The No. 1 team in Southeast Missouri lost. So did No. 3. And the new No. 10 team wasn't even on the radar before the season started.

Two weeks into the high school boys basketball season, it's starting to look like a repeat of the college football season, where the most unlikely teams rise to the top, fall, rise. Then fall. And rise. And on and on.

First, the streaks: Delta C-7 ended a losing streak with its first win in 42 tries, a 63-52 defeat of Senath-Hornersville in Senath's own tournament Friday. It's the first win for the Chargers since a win over Risco in February 2005; they were 0-18 last season and 0-20 the year before.

At the Caledonia tournament, Kingston came within five points of ending its losing streak at 93 games, the longest recorded in Southeast Missouri (the previous was 92 by the former Arbyrd High School, which combined with Cardwell to form Southland).

According to the published recap, Kingston cut the lead to a point with 1:20 to play, but Bismark hit four of its final six free throws to pull away. Kingston's last win was in February 2003 against Bunker, and now an intriguing home date with Grandview (0-5) awaits Dec. 11.

• We've already seen surprises in the high school boys basketball season, but Salem's defeat of Jackson for the Farmington Invitational title is, hands down, at the top of the list so far. Salem was seeded No. 6, Jackson was seeded first. Salem was unranked in our Top 25, Jackson was No. 3 (although that changed with our new Top 25 posted Sunday night, which featured Salem at No. 10). That sends Jackson into this week's SEMO Conference Tournament with a loss, and the schedule is hardly forgiving. Click here for the full lineup this week at Sikeston High School.

On Friday, No. 1 Scott County Central lost to Bell City in the Oran Invitational finale, adding more changes to the Top 25. It's shaping up to be an anything-goes season among teams across the region, and that should mean a Top 25 with a lot of changes as the season progresses.

• We'll have a new poll on the SemoSportsWeb home page this week, but the last poll asking for the area's high school football MVP puts Waylon Sparkman of Perryville out in front of Ryan Sawyer of Fredericktown. We'll post the final results this week, along with the final top 10 leaders in four categories (passing, rushing, receiving, tackles) among the 33 high school football teams in our area.