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Monday, Dec. 22, 2014

Thinking out loud about area hoops

Sunday, February 24, 2002

The Class 3A, District 1 Basketball Tournament has come and gone without much of a hitch. The only surprise would be Sikeston's girls defeating Doniphan to snap their four-year stranglehold on the district.

As far as the boys side, everything went as seeded. New Madrid County Central put on a clinic in their two games, throttling Kennett in the semifinals and blowing past Dexter with a big second half.

And what better place to host the district tournament than the Sikeston Field House?

In my opinion there is no better place to watch a high school basketball game except for probably Bloomfield.

Why the district would ever be held at Doniphan or Kennett is beyond me. I know everybody wants their turn to have the home-court advantage, but it's all about geography.

Sikeston is the perfect location, and I'm not just saying that because I live five minutes from the stadium.

Doniphan and Kennett are so far out of the way for every team in the district. Doniphan and Dexter don't have enough seating to accommodate the massive crowds that the tournament generates.

And then you've got a place like Kennett, which has inadequate parking.

NMCC is a quality facility and a good location but even last year there weren't enough seats for the fans. There were probably 1,000 that were standing on the steps or that were gathered on the concourse second level in last year's title game.

I'm sure that was comfortable, especially for the folks that were buried six heads in the back.

At the Field House last week, parking isn't much of a problem. Everybody gets a seat and the location is second to none. Only once before have I seen a game at the Field House where there wasn't enough seating and that was in 1995 for the district title game between Sikeston and Cape Central. Of course, all of this is a moot point with the restructuring of the classifications next year.

* You almost have to feel sorry for Dexter. The last four years Dexter has put together some of its greatest teams in school history and they don't have a district championship to show for it.

Four years ago Dexter lost to Doniphan in the championship on the Dons' home court.

Three years ago at Kennett, the Bearcats ran into a red-hot Charleston team and the last two years they've fallen victim to NMCC, which just so happens to be putting together its best teams of all time.

NMCC is right in the middle of a special group of athletes. And groups like this don't come around very often. Schools will go through athletic classes, but rarely does one have a group where the chemistry clicks and everything seems to come together no matter what happens.

That's what's happened at NMCC the last three years led by the Class of 2002.

For Sikeston, it came in 1995 when Steven Geralds, Allen Hatchett and Co., led the Bulldogs to the Class 4A Final Four. To put into perspective the magnitude of that accomplishment; no 4A team from this area has made it past the first round of the playoffs since that year.

Charleston has gone through some top-notch athletic classes, but none were as special as the Class of 1990 led by Lamont Frazier and Leonard Corbitt, who were to Charleston what Dereke Tipler and Brian Murph are to NMCC.

They led the Bluejays to an undefeated 3A state title (33-0) and reached the 3A state semifinals in football.

Even smaller schools have their special groups.

Portageville's came in 1991, and Scott City and Kelly both had special classes in 1999.

And how about Hayti's football team this year? Just a few years ago that football team nearly fell off the face of the earth. Last year they were one of the top teams in the state.

It provides further proof that high school sports success runs in cycles.

Right now, everybody seems content to hold the Class 2A, District 2 Tournament at Bloomfield.

But you can put money on it that when Bloomfield puts out a contender, and it will happen, I don't know when, but it will, that somebody else will want to host the district tournament so the Wildcats don't have the home-court advantage.

* I have to give credit to Sikeston's girls basketball team for their strong finish in the district tournament. To reach the finals had to be beyond everybody's expectations, even head coach Lee Brooks.

However, reaching the championship game this year only raises the bar for next year, especially with so many returning players. But I think this is the beginning of good things to come for Coach Brooks' girls.

Also, the boys team didn't reach the district finals, but they did improve significantly from last year (8-17) by finishing 14-12.

Anytime you can improve by five or more wins from one year to the next, that has to be considered a success. Things only look better for Coach Gregg Holifield's team next year too. Only one senior graduates that saw regular time.

Led by one of the most exciting Bulldog players in several years in Lontas McClinton, look for Sikeston to improve even more next season.