Now that all the Christmas tournaments are over, it's time for area boys basketball teams to fall into the regular-season routine of playing Tuesday and Friday nights.
The two-month stretch until the playoffs begins Friday with an intriguing slate of games.
The Bulldogs will end a 21-day layoff with red-hot Charleston, who recently ran the table in the U-High tournament.
The Bluejays have been a thorn in Sikeston's side lately, winning eight of the last nine meetings, with most coming down to the wire.
This year the Bulldogs can't afford to let one slip away. A win over Charleston would be their third straight victory this season. And with upcoming games against Malden and Doniphan, Sikeston could be a confident 8-4 heading into the Superman Classic instead of hovering around the .500 mark.
But things are working in Charleston's favor. Along with having Sikeston's number, the Bluejays should also be more physically prepared to play.
The Bulldogs were idle over the Christmas break and they're going to pay for it.
Final score: Charleston 63, Sikeston 57
Back on Nov. 29, Richland defeated Bell City 76-72. Since that time the Rebels' stock has fallen while Bell City's has risen.
Richland followed up its baffling loss to Campbell with a disappointing showing in the Bloomfield Tournament. Bell City on the other hand had an impressive run at U-High, toppling Cape Central for fifth place without Eric Henry.
If your team isn't playing this Friday, go to this one. These type of 1A battles are always filled with drama and excitement.
Final score: Richland 70, Bell City 68
Scott Central was looking impressive before back-to-back losses at U-High. Now the undersized Braves have the daunting task of ending that skid against Portageville.
Final score: Portageville 68, Scott Central 53
The team that won the Bloomfield Tournament takes on the team that lost to Delta in the consolation semifinals at U-High.
Unless Carr, Gill, Hyten, Burnett and both Christians miss the bus, this one will be over by halftime.
Final score: Dexter 87, Woodland 45
In what used to be a great 2A matchup, Notre Dame should have no trouble disposing of Kelly.
When you name the top-tier teams, Notre Dame is on the bubble.
Kelly? With losses to Bloomfield and Delta, they're not even close.
Final score: Notre Dame 65, Kelly 50
Scott City may have fallen from grace, but they're still good enough to take down the weakest teams in the area. They beat Leopold by 28 and Chaffee by 22 at U-High, removing any doubt from Friday's rematch against the Red Devils.
Final score: Scott City 60, Chaffee 45
On Saturday, NMCC takes on Whitfield in the Tiger Shootout. The Warriors (7-4) won state in 2A two years ago, and have posted some solid wins this season over MICDS and Zumwalt West.
Don't expect them to add the Eagles to the list though. NMCC came together as a team at the Carbondale tournament, and might not lose another game until the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions in Springfield.
Final score: NMCC 70, Whitfield 62