BLOOMFIELD - In the Class 2A, District 2 Tournament at Bloomfield, you have Notre Dame and Charleston, then you have the rest of the field.
At least that's how most of the coaches in the district feel about the tournament.
Notre Dame, the defending champions, defeated Charleston in last year's district final. This year, the Bulldogs are favored to win once again as they garnered the top seed. Charleston picked up the No. 2 seed.
The following is a team-by-team breakdown of each of the 10 teams in the district, as seeded.
The Bulldogs brought home the district hardware last year under first-year head coach Darrin Scott.
"Last year was nice but this year is a different team," said Scott. "We talked about it all year that we want to be playing our best basketball at district time. We feel like we're playing pretty well right now."
The Bulldogs are led by junior sharpshooter Travis Siebert who averages 14 points per game. Scott Wittenborn scores 12 points per game.
Doug Schaefer, Cory Beussink and Nathan LeGrand all average seven points per game.
"On any night I think Kelly or Woodland could beat somebody," said Scott. "If you looked at records us and Charleston should be head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field, but any team in the tournament this year could beat you on the right night."
The Bulldogs play the winner of the East Prairie-Bloomfield play-in game tomorrow night at 6:30.
The Bluejays' season has been filled with thrilling victories, such as the U-High Christmas Tourney championship and a one-point win against Sikeston, to heartbreaking defeats such as a 3-point loss to NMCC and a two-point loss to Notre Dame.
The latter defeat was probably the deciding factor in the way the seeds turned out. That, along with last year's defeat against Notre Dame in the championship has provided some motivation for head coach Danny Farmer's club.
"They won it last year and they beat us earlier this year," said Farmer. "We definitely have revenge on our minds."
Charleston is led by senior forward Jordy Mixon, who averages 18.7 points and six rebounds.
Lezcano Dean, who has signed a letter of intent for Long Beach State University, averages 13 points and six rebounds.
Senior point guard Dontay Clark (9 ppg, 4 assists per game), 6-6 junior Kewain Gant (9 ppg, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks per game) and 6-5 freshman Ashton Farmer (9 ppg, 6 rpg) round out the Bluejays' top players.
Senior Jemorrio Betts has returned from an injury suffered early in the year but he isn't at full strength.
Farmer thinks the tournament could get tough towards the end.
"A lot of the teams don't have a winning record, but you need to watch out for any of the top four teams," said Farmer. "When you get to the semifinals I think the tournament may be more competitive."
The Bluejays will play the winner of the Greenville-Chaffee play-in game on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The Rams, once a power in Class 2A, District 2, had their first losing regular season in nearly 10 years.
But after starting 0-5 this year, the Rams have gone 11-8 and have battled injury problems all year.
"The top two seeds are pretty dominant, but outside of those two I think we're all about the same level," said first-year head coach Kerry Thompson. "It's going to take a great effort to beat Charleston or Notre Dame."
The Rams are led by D.J. Walton's 14.6 points per game. Tyler Ward, a 6-6 sophomore, and Chad Weatherspoon, a 6-5 junior, both average 10 points with 7.5 rebounds per game.
The Rams open with Puxico on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. They defeated Puxico last Thursday 70-58.
The Cardinals are one of those teams that is competitive on a yearly basis, but have struggled in district tournament action. They've been able to reach the championship, but couldn't bring home a first place plaque.
The Cardinals will try to change that when they open with Kelly tomorrow at 8 p.m.
"The three seed down to the seven or eight seed are all about the same," said Woodland head coach Jennings Wilkinson. "Whoever shoots the ball well on a given night will probably win."
Woodland is led by Luke Johnson's 14 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Alex Vangennip (12 ppg), Michael Owens (11 ppg) and Travis Benfield (10 ppg, 9 rpg) round out the Cardinals' top players.
The Hawks, despite its subpar record, had a chance to win the Scott-Mississippi Conference regular season title but fell to Oran last week. Kelly has been bolstered by the emergence of senior Michael Romas, who served a suspension and has returned to the lineup with solid play.
"We're definitely playing a lot better," said Kelly head coach Nick Lanpher. "We've compared our old tapes to where we are now and we're a completely different ballclub. We were playing a lot better before (Romas) came back but he's going to help us."
Major Burger leads the Hawks with 13 points per game while Tyler Schlosser averages 12 points per game.
Kelly will take on Woodland tomorrow at 8 p.m. The Hawks lost to Woodland earlier this year.
"If we play well we can get them," said Lanpher. "We didn't play well the first time we played."
6. Puxico (10-14)
The Indians have been somewhat inconsistent this year, but head coach Chuck Powers thinks his team is starting to play well at the right time.
"We've won three of our last four games," said Powers. "There's no doubt in my mind that if we play team basketball, then we can pull an upset. We've had some tough hard-fought games that we lost. It just depends on which team of ours shows up."
The Indians are led by point guard Derek Binford, who averages 17 points and four assists per game.
Cainan Jordan pumps in 10 points with seven rebounds per game while Jerry Powell averages 8.5 points per game.
Puxico plays Scott City on Tuesday at 7:30.
The Bears traditionally play around the .500 mark but haven't done much damage in the district tournament over the years.
They are led by senior guard Jarred Green and senior Matt Massa. Caleb McCoy, a 6-4 senior and 6-7 senior Ryan Libla provide good size for the Bears.
Greenville played Chaffee on Saturday in a play-in game. The winner of that plays Charleston on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The Eagles have struggled this year due to a lack of size. With a roster full of guards, East Prairie is dangerous from beyond the arc but has trouble against teams with size.
East Prairie is led by Chris Wheatley and Adam Bollinger. Matt Boyer and the Poley twins, Justin and Dustin, also provide solid minutes for the Eagles.
East Prairie played Bloomfield in a play-in game on Saturday. The winner of that game plays tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. against Notre Dame.
The Wildcats haven't been a district contender in several years. They have struggled once again this year under first-year head coach Travis Brown. The Wildcats are led by 6-6 senior Matt Christian.
They played East Prairie on Saturday in a play-in game.
Chaffee High School has played musical coaches over the years. This time the Red Devils are led by first-year head coach David Mirly.
While the Red Devils have struggled in the win department, they have been competitive with several tough teams, including Class 1A favorite Bell City, losing by four points Chaffee is led by Chase Eskew's 15 points per game. Andrew Horrell follows up with 12 points on average and James Reischman pumps in nine points per game.