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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

COLUMN - WILL CHARLESTON BE A U-HIGH STUD OR DUD?

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

The University High School Christmas Tournament title used to run through Charleston.

From 1980 to 1998 the Bluejays reached the championship game 14 times, winning it 11 of those times. But over the last couple of years, the former champs have been U-High duds.

Little 1A Advance has proven to be quite the obstacle for the once-proud Bluejays, upsetting them in the semifinal round two years in a row.

In the U-Stink era, how can this be explained?

I mean we're not exactly talking about Marcus Timmons and the Scott Central Braves, or Mark Kiehne and the Jackson Indians for competition here.

A quality team like Charleston should be in the finals every year.

Has Advance had their number recently, or have the Bluejays been underachieving at the Show-Me Center?

This year Charleston has been seeded first again, but they lost to second-seeded Notre Dame last night 60-58.

Can the Bluejays avenge that loss in the championship game, or even get there for that matter?

That's just one of many questions to be answered heading into the 57th installment of U-High, which starts Dec. 26.

Several intriguing matchups could make this year's event one of the most competitive in recent memory, even though the overall talent of the tournament is down.

The first round seems to be pretty clear cut, with the exception of Scott Central's game against upstart Meadow Heights. The Panthers are off to their best start in 10 years and will be looking to prove they're for real against the Braves, who are 6-2.

Barring any upsets, fourth-seeded Oran would then face fifth-seeded Bell City in a battle between two of the area's best 1A teams in the second round. The Eagles nipped the Cubs in a barnburner at Oran earlier in the year.

It will be interesting to see the two play on a neutral floor.

Another good second-rounder will be Jackson against defending champion Advance. The winner of that game will likely run into Notre Dame in the semifinals. When all the smoke clears, I expect Charleston to live up to expectations this year and win the tournament.

Expect the first round to go as seeded, with Cape Central edging Woodland in a close one and Scott Central deflating Meadow Heights' high hopes with a blowout win.

In the second round, Charleston will beat Scott Central by about 15, Notre Dame will handle Cape Central with ease, Jackson will come from behind to dethrone Advance, then Oran will edge Bell City in another great game.

In the semifinals Charleston will struggle to beat Oran, and Jackson will upset Notre Dame.

Charleston will roll over the Indians in the championship game, and Oran will shock Notre Dame to win third place.

Cape Central will edge Bell City for fifth, and Woodland will beat out Meadow Heights for the consolation title.