(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
On the boys side, Charleston has been seeded first and is heavily-favored to win the district title. Here is a look at each team in the district, as seeded.
1. Charleston (22-3)
The Bluejays are flying high this year, checking into the district with a record of 22-3. After last Friday's win over Poplar Bluff, Charleston moved up to No. 1 in the regional basketball poll. They're currently ranked No. 2 in the state poll in Class 3.
The Bluejays are led by post players Kewain Gant (6-8, sr.) and Ashton Farmer (6-6, so.).
Gant averages 10 rebounds, seven blocks and 15 points per game. Farmer also provides 15 points a night. The team's top defender is shooting guard Deshaundray Hamilton (6-1, sr.). "We beat some very good teams in the regular season, and the kids may start thinking this district is going to be easy," said Charleston head coach Danny Farmer. "But we can't think like that. We need to take every game seriously and play like it's the toughest team we've seen all year."
Last season the Bluejays reached the state quarterfinals, where they lost to the eventual state champions. "We were knocking at the door last year," said Farmer. "I felt going into the season that this team could get further. We've had an unbelievable season so far, beating every Missouri team on our schedule. Hopefully (the district) will just be the first step for us."
Charleston will play East Prairie in the first round on Saturday at 10 a.m.
2. Scott City (15-6)
The Scott City Rams are one of the biggest surprises in Southeast Missouri this year, checking into the district with a record of 15-6. The Rams have won with a balanced attack. D.J. Walton (6-2, sr.) averages 16 points and seven rebounds per game. Tyler Ward (6-8, jr.) pulls down eight rebounds and provides 14 points a night. Jeremy Schlosser (5-8, jr.) averages 12 a game, and Chris Bradshaw (6-2, sr.) is Scott City's top defender. "I really thought we had the ability to put this kind of season together," said Scott City head coach Kerry Thompson. "We've had great leadership. Team unity has been the biggest thing."
The Rams are playing their best basketball of the season, recently beating Portageville on the road. "Charleston is definitely the team to beat, but I think we can play with them," said Thompson. "It's going to be a tough district for us. Just getting (to the finals) is the big thing."
Scott City will face Woodland in the first round on Saturday at 4 p.m.
3. Kelly (10-14) The Hawks have been up and down this year, checking into the district with a record of 10-14. Lance Scheffer (5-9, sr.) is the team's leading scorer, averaging nine points per game. He is also the Hawks' top defensive player. Chris Romas (6-2, jr.) and Major Burger (5-9, sr.) both average eight points a night. Josh Jones (6-3, jr.) is the team's top rebounder. "If we play like we're capable of playing, we can do well in the district," said Kelly head coach Nick Lanpher. "If we play like we did earlier in the year, we're not going to do so well."
The Hawks will face St. Vincent in the first round on Saturday at 7 p.m.
4. Clearwater (12-12)
Last season, Clearwater was just one win away from the Final Four. The Tigers hope to have the same kind of success in their new district this season.
They check into the district with a record of 12-12, earning the fourth seed. Jake Eaton (5-11, so.) is the team's leading scorer at 14 points per game. He also leads Clearwater in rebounds with six per game. The Tigers have four other players averaging just under 10 points a night with David Ross (5-11, jr.), Cory Ezell (5-11, jr.), Tony Merlotti (6-2, jr.) and Justin Wright (5-9, sr.). Jason Payton is the teams' top defender. Clearwater will face Bloomfield in the first round on Saturday at 1 p.m. "We've got the worst draw of the tournament," said first-year coach Louis Bell. "We get to go to Bloomfield and play them on their home court. Whoever is lucky enough to win that game gets to play Charleston. They are quite a bit better than the rest of the teams in our district. They may be the best team in 3A."
5. Bloomfield (12-12)
The Bloomfield Wildcats are much-improved this year, entering the district as the No. 5 seed with a 12-12 record. Tim Perry (6-1, jr.) is Bloomfield's leading scorer with 18 points per game. He is also the team's top defender. In the post, the Wildcats are led by Colby Sandage (6-5, sr.). "We've had our ups and downs, but we've come out of a bad streak the last few weeks and started playing better," said Bloomfield coach Travis Brown. "Defensively, I'd like us to be a little more solid."
Bloomfield will face Clearwater in the first round on Saturday at 1 p.m.
"Everybody in this district is looking up to Charleston," said Brown. "We would just like the opportunity to play them."
6. St. Vincent (13-7)
The St. Vincent Indians are a darkhorse as the No. 6 seed. They enter the district at 13-7 with an impressive resume, beating the likes of Ste. Genevieve, Grandview and Festus.
They've won seven of their last eight. "We're kind of the outsiders," said St. Vincent head coach Bruce Valleroy. "We've just played teams in our area, and I'm sure teams down there don't know much about us. Hopefully we can make some noise."
The Indians were moved up to Class 3 after the multiplier rule went into effect. St. Vincent is led by center Matt Wengert (6-5, sr.), who averages 16 points and seven rebounds per game. Alex Armbruster (6-0, so.) contributes 15 points, six assists and four steals a night. Brad Renner (5-10, sr.) is the team's top defender. The Indians will face Kelly in the first round on Saturday at 7 p.m.
7. Woodland (10-13)
The Cardinals are the No. 7 seed with a record of 10-13. Alex VanGennip (5-10, sr.) is the team's top player, averaging 16 points per game.
Travis Benfield (6-2, jr.) contributes nine points and nine rebounds per night. Brandon Cowell (5-8, jr.) and Benfield are the team's top defenders. "We're starting to play pretty good as a group," said Woodland head coach Ted Hahn. "We don't have that many players right now, so other teams can run several players in on us and get us tired."
Woodland will face Scott City in the first round on Saturday at 4 p.m. "We're capable if things will roll just right," said Hahn. "We will have to play almost a perfect game to beat Scott City."
8. East Prairie (6-16)
The Eagles are the No. 8 seed, checking into the district with a record of 6-16. Matt Boyer (5-10, sr.) is the team's top player, averaging 18 points, two assists, seven rebounds and two steals per game. The Eagles will face Charleston in the first round on Saturday at 10 a.m.