Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Could a Sikeston-Scott Central matchup be ahead?

There was plenty of talk before and after the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament about a potential Sikeston vs. Scott County Central matchup, especially after the Braves picked apart Notre Dame for an 18-point win in Tuesday's championship.

The debate is fueled by the rankings of both teams (Scott County Central is No. 1 in our SEMO Top 25, and Sikeston is No. 2) and comments earlier this month from Sikeston administrators who say their program has nothing to gain by playing the 12-time state champion. Scott Central, on the other hand, appears to be chomping at the bit for its first matchup with Sikeston since 1971.

Now there's speculation that the Cape Girardeau tournament could lose one of its teams in the next two years for its first lineup change since Egyptian, Ill., dropped out in 1984 (then known by its original and less-corporate name, University High Christmas Tournament).

It's no secret Sikeston, Perryville and New Madrid County Central have been jostling in line for years for a spot in the tournament, with Sikeston said to be at the top of the list.

Sure, Sikeston all-stater Michael Porter could be gone by the time the matchup happens — even if it comes next year. And yes, any addition to the tournament would have to be approved by the remaining schools involved.

But at least there's added hope that a Sikeston-Scott Central matchup could happen sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The games to see Tuesday? It's not a short list

It won't matter what part of the region you're headed for tonight — if you're a basketball fan, you won't be far from a potentially good ballgame.
Finals are today for boys basketball teams at Bloomfield, Cabool, Cape Girardeau and Saxony Lutheran, and girls finals are today at Park Hills and North County.
That leaves a lineup of nearly 20 title games across the area today, along with semifinals in boys tournaments at Park Hills, Poplar Bluff and Rolla (for more than a dozen additional games).
The full schedule is on our Christmas tournament schedule page here. Until then, a few guesses on what to expect:


• At Bloomfield, Bernie (8-1) and Portageville (8-0) have a potential date later in the Class 2 postseason, but their only regular-season matchup comes today for a Christmas tournament title. Portageville turned back Twin Rivers in overtime Monday; Bernie coasted past Dexter. Bernie's good, but Portageville won't struggle for two days in a row. Today: Portageville by 6 points.
• At Cape Girardeau, Scott County Central (9-1) and Notre Dame (7-4) will play a regular-season game in late January, so today's championship pairing is a preview of what's to come in less than a month. Scott County Central hasn't been tested yet in the Christmas tournament and defeated Charleston by more than 30 points Monday; Notre Dame won its semifinal against Jackson by 11 points. Notre Dame could benefit by getting the Braves frustrated early, but that doesn't happen often. Today: Scott County Central by 12.
• At Cabool, Eminence (9-0) rides an unbeaten record into today's final against Thayer (7-1) in a preview of a regular-season meeting Jan. 13. It's the same scenario as last year when second-seeded Thayer and top-seeded Eminence met with a similar result. Today: Thayer by 8.


• At North County, the girls tournament ends with three title games today, including a championship matchup between Lesterville and St. Louis Miller Career Academy.
• At Park Hills, South Iron's early exit Monday leaves a pair of rivalries that double as semifinals: DeSoto faces Hillsboro, and Farmington plays North County. Finals are Wednesday.
• At Poplar Bluff, Southeast Missouri's three entries — Sikeston, NMCC and Poplar Bluff — all face consolation semifinal tests today, including a matchup between Poplar Bluff and NMCC at 7. Finals are Wednesday.
• At Rolla, Festus is in contention for a championship and has a semifinal date at 7:30 p.m.
• At Saxony Lutheran, the round-robin tournament ends with three finals today, including a championship between Saxony Lutheran and St. Louis Metro at 7:30.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Weather could be a factor in Day 2 tournament games

Weather — the strong storms and wind kind, not the snowy kind — could make headlines before today's high school tournament games are over.

The National Weather Service posted a tornado warning today for western parts of the region ahead of a strong line of thunderstorms. For tournament-goers, storms are expected at Cabool by early afternoon, Park Hills by mid-afternoon and by late afternoon and early evening in time for championship semifinals at Bloomfield and Cape Girardeau. Behind it: colder air a little more befitting Christmas tournament games.

After highs today near 70, Sunday's high is expected to be near 50.

Friday, December 26, 2008

After Day 1 of holiday tournaments, now it gets interesting

With the exception of one, upsets dotted the schedule at every high school boys basketball tournament that opened today across the area.

At Bloomfield, it was Puxico, Richland and Van Buren pulling off the surprises. At Cabool, Norwood and Plato. At Park Hills, it was Potosi.

And after a day of upsets at three sites, it could get even more interesting Saturday.

At Bloomfield, Dexter vs. Puxico (5:30 p.m.) and Twin Rivers vs. Van Buren (7 p.m.) highlight a day that features eight games starting at 9:30 a.m. Bernie faces Bloomfield at 4 and Richland meets Portageville at 8:30 in other championship semifinals.

At the Show Me Center, favored teams won Friday, setting up a pair of intriguing large school vs. small school matchups: Notre Dame plays Advance at 6, followed at 7:30 by Jackson's game against Leopold. Other championship semifinals are Charleston vs. Cape Girardeau Central and Scott County Central vs. Kelly.

At Park Hills, first-round games and consolation semifinals are Saturday, followed Monday by championship semifinals highlighted by DeSoto vs. Ste. Genevieve at 5:30 p.m., along with potential Farmington-Herculaneum and South Iron-North County matchups Monday night.

At Cabool, top-seeded Eminence earned a first-round bye and opens Saturday against Cabool. It'll be the first game for the Redwings without standout senior Austin Brewer, who's recovering from a hunting accident earlier in the week.

• Another team without one of its key players is East Prairie, which helps explain an unlikely 75-29 loss to Dexter in the first round at Bloomfield. The Eagles are without M.C. Williams, who has left the team. Williams became the first-ever East Prairie player to win the Carr Trophy — awarded by the Poplar Bluff Letter Club to the top football player in the SEMO Conference — back in November.

• Opening-day holiday tournament games are known for their lopsided scores, and with a few exceptions this year was no different.

Out of eight games at the Show Me Center, only one was decided by 10 points or less. At Bloomfield, two were decided by 10 points or less, and at Cabool, four were decided by 10 points or less.

But the day's closest boys games were at Park Hills #&151 out of four games scheduled, the margins were three points (twice), eight and 21.

On average, first-round margins were 30 points at Bloomfield, 27 at the Show Me Center, 21 at Cabool and 9 at Park Hills.

• Friday's upsets will keep the past three Bloomfield tournament winners — Hayti (last year), Malden (2006) and Doniphan (2005) — out of the finals. Dexter is the most recent champion still in the winner's bracket; the Bearcats won seven straight titles from 1998 to 2004.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

There's a story behind Sikeston's refusal to play Scott County Central

At least Sikeston High School has reasons for not putting Scott County Central on its boys basketball schedule.

None of them make much sense, but they're reasons.

The Standard-Democrat newspaper in Sikeston talked to several of the head honchos who have a hand in scheduling at Sikeston, ranked No. 2 in the SemoSportsWeb Top 25, and at Scott County Central, No. 1 in the poll. The story appears in today's edition.

First, the quick background in case you haven't heard: The teams haven't played since 1971 when Scott Central went to Sikeston and won in overtime. Sikeston officials say postgame violence — consisting of a fight in a women's bathroom and verbal taunts in the parking lot — were so bad that the rivalry would never resume. And it hasn't.

Sikeston athletic director Brent Keefer, superintendent Steve Borgsmiller and principal Tom Williams all recite similar lines and insist that the matchup won't happen under their watch, even saying that scheduling the 12-time state champions isn't much of a test.

According to the Sikeston schedule this season, Oran, a Class 1 program with one winning season in its past five seasons, is a better challenge. So are nearby small schools Kelly and Scott City. Both require more of a drive — and less of a workout — than the 9-mile trek south of Morley.

As for Scott County Central, coach Ronnie Cookson and superintendent Joby Holland want the game to happen. Granted, a Class 1 school playing a Class 4 program has little to lose and a lot to gain with the potential of a payday in gate receipts.

But Cookson likes a challenge, and a game at Sikeston is a playoff-caliber test for his team. And he's already tossed the bait at Sikeston — the Braves might have three open dates for Sikeston to choose from next season, and Cookson sounds eager to fill one of them with Sikeston.

Sikeston's old-guard excuses might have made sense in a 1971 environment, but they're not credible in 2008.

Let the game happen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You pick: What's the best rivalry game in Southeast Missouri?

Just mentioning Sikeston and Notre Dame in the same sentence stirs emotions among basketball fans. It's always been that way when it comes to other rivalries: Jackson vs. Cape Girardeau Central, Valle vs. Ste. Genevieve, Caruthersville vs. Hayti.

Our next poll next week will ask this question: "What's the best high school rivalry in Southeast Missouri?" Pick any rivalry among any of the 83 or so high schools in the region and leave a comment -- they might be included among the choices when our poll goes up in a few days.

• The first month of the high school basketball season hasn't seen many big surprises (Leopold's Woodland Invitational championship and Charleston's 1-4 start among them), but fifth-seeded Risco's defeat of top-seeded Gosnell, Ark., in the semifinal round of the Clarkton Holiday Tournament tonight might top the list.

At Risco, wins haven't been easy to come by over the past few seasons, but coach Brandon Blankenship has the Tigers off to a 6-1 start heading into Friday's championship game. Risco's matchup Jan. 9 at Leopold could be one of the better small-school matchups of the season.

And in case you haven't already seen the team in action, click here for the link to photographer Al Jones' gallery of more than two dozen photos from Risco's first-round game against Gideon earlier this week.

Talley Haines' new Balls-n-Strikes indoor baseball and softball facility in Cape Girardeau will hold its grand opening Sunday. Sikeston High grad and current Los Angeles Dodger Blake Dewitt will be there to sign autographs starting at 3 p.m.

• Thanks to coaches, fans and others who have contributed scores in the first month of the season — it's helped us put together the most thorough list of boys basketball results in the region. As always, scores from regular-season games and tournament games are appreciated; e-mail them to, or send a text message from your cell phone any time to 573-979-5929.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday events called off -- are there others?

It looks like much of the schedule tonight will be wiped out because of the lingering ice and snow.

So far, at least a dozen games are officially called off, including Poplar Bluff-Blytheville, Sikeston-Perryville, Bernie-Woodland, South Iron-Arcadia Valley, DeSoto-Potosi, and St. Vincent-North County, along with games at the Ellington Invitational.

Do you know of others? What games or tournaments are still on for tonight?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Who's No. 1 in Southeast Missouri now?

It stands to reason that any tournament featuring six of the top 10 teams in Southeast Missouri could shake up the boys basketball rankings. After Thursday, we have a somewhat better idea of how it might turn out.

Poplar Bluff, No. 1 the past two weeks, is almost certain to drop after a loss Thursday to No. 4 New Madrid County Central in the semifinals of the SEMO Conference tournament. In the other game, No. 3 Sikeston defeated No. 5 Notre Dame by double digits.

So now the question: Will Southeast Missouri's new No. 1 team come from Friday's championship game (8:30 p.m. at Sikeston High School, for those who want to see it unfold live)?

Or does Scott County Central, the preseason No. 1 and currently No. 2, climb back to the top?

Look for the new Top 25 on Monday. But if it's your call, who do you pick?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Williams brings EP its first Carr Trophy

M.C. Williams was awarded the Carr Trophy on Wednesday as the best football athlete from the SEMO Conference, a first for East Prairie in the award's 30 years.

Williams led the SEMO Conference in rushing yards with 2,116, second only to Brandon Bourbon of Potosi, who led Southeast Missouri with 2,411 yards.

It's a strong finish for Williams after the team's unlikely loss to Malden in Week 10 nixed a shot at the playoffs.