With each game that passes, it looks more and more like Bell City is destined to claim another state championship. The Cubs are blowing most of their opponents out of the water, winning by an average score of 89 to 57.
They're 15-2, currently ranked second in Class 1 behind Verona.
Studs Eric Henry and Dominitrix Johnson are the obvious reason for Bell City's success, but role players like Kenyon Wright and A.J. Henry have also done their share. The current take on Bell City?
The Cubs are good...for a small school.
They don't have that old Scott Central reputation just yet, where they are expected to beat any team in the area on any night.
You might say Bell City is considered a second-tier team, just a step below the best: Poplar Bluff, Charleston and Dexter.
Why you ask?
Lack of quality wins. Of their 15 victories, just two have been over quality opponents. They beat Oran and they beat Jackson, two other second-tier teams.
As the legendary Ric Flair once said, "To be the man, you've gotta beat the man."
To stake a claim as one of the area's best, Bell City has to knock off one of the big boys.
They will get that chance on Friday night in the championship game of the Stoddard County Conference Tournament at Bloomfield.
Assuming the top seeds prevail in Thursday's semifinals (trust me, they will), Bell City will take on Dexter Friday night at 8:30 p.m.
Can the Cubs pull it off? Like last year, I think they will come close. I wouldn't give them a chance against a defense-oriented team like Bluff or Charleston, but Dexter's up-and-down style plays right into Bell City's hands.
Back in the Corey Gipson days, Richland played the same way and used to give the Bearcats fits. It's all about matchups. As for this one, I'll play it safe and take Dexter in a barnburner.
Final score: Dexter 89, Bell City 86
Guaranteed wins on Sikeston's schedule are few and far between.
This is one of the few.
With Friday's game against Kelly, followed by Saturday's game against Portageville, the Bulldogs are hoping to be 8-10 heading into next Friday's showdown at Poplar Bluff.
Final score: Sikeston 68, Kelly 53
This is the toughest pick of the week. Both teams are inconsistent, but have shown they can beat quality opponents. NMCC beat Notre Dame while Doniphan took down Twin Rivers. The Dons have a slight edge, simply because the game will be played in their hostile environment. Look for a big night out of Danny Kellas.
Final score: Doniphan 52, NMCC 51
The blue collar Eagles have quietly won eight straight, proving to be the top team in the Scott-Mississippi Conference. Leopold has two wins on the year and is at the bottom of the lowly Mississippi Valley congregation. Last night, previously winless Chaffee beat them in overtime. Not exactly a marquee matchup.
Final score: Oran 73, Leopold 49
Since Dec. 13, just one team has competed with Charleston. Kennett won't be the next. Expect another easy one for the Bluejays.
Final score: Charleston 70, Kennett 52
The Braves seemed to turn the corner in the Scott-Miss tourney, upsetting Scott City to reach the finals for the second straight year. Chaffee is flying high after posting its first win last night, but the Red Devils don't have the horses to keep up with Scott Central for four quarters.
Final score: Scott Central 80, Chaffee 55