(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
In order of their respective seeds, the teams are as follows: No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 2 Jackson, No. 3 Sikeston, No. 4 Charleston, No. 5 New Madrid County Central and No. 6 Poplar Bluff. Cape Central and Caruthersville will battle for the No. 7 seed, and Kennett and Dexter will play each other for the No. 8 seed.
"I think it will be a great tournament," Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield said. "There are a lot of good teams in it. I think there are going to be so many good teams in it-- I think it can go either way."
Kennett and Dexter will kick things off Monday evening at 5:30 p.m. in the eight-seed game, followed by Caruthersville and Cape Central at 7 p.m. in the seven-seed play-in game.
"We open up with Kennett," Dexter head coach Rob Nichols said. "(We) don't really expect anything in terms of wins and losses. We just want to go out and try to get a win against Kennett and see if we can get into the tournament."
Dexter is coming off of a 12-15 record in the 2006-2007 season, and a loss to Notre Dame in the Class 4, District 1 tournament. Notre Dame went on to defeat Sikeston in the district championship on a buzzer-beater, but took third in the conference tournament in 2006, defeating Jackson.
Nichols said that his goal for his young team is to instill a sense of pride before season's end.
"(We want) to try to earn a little bit of respect," Nichols said. "We've lost some respect over the past few years. That's what we try to preach to these kids, is to have pride in what they're doing and to try to earn a little respect back in that area."
The final game on Monday night will feature NMCC and Charleston, the defending conference tournament champions as well as the Class 3 state champions. The game is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
"We get NMCC first," Charleston head coach Danny Farmer said. "We want to try to surprise somebody (this season). That would make our season, to sneak up on somebody. That's what our goal is."
Farmer has the same thoughts as Nichols, saying that there are three favorites in the tournament, Jackson, Notre Dame and Sikeston.
"Those three are the favorites," Farmer said. "Especially Jackson and Notre Dame, having their whole team back (from last year). They were tough last year--we had a lot of trouble with them."
Beginning Tuesday evening, Notre Dame will take on the winner of the Kennett vs. Dexter game at 5:30 p.m. Following the first game, will be Jackson going up against the winner of the Cape Central vs. Caruthersville game. The second game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Sikeston and Poplar Bluff will bring things to a close on Tuesday night, as they square off at 8:30 p.m.
"We play Poplar Bluff, and they're a much improved team," Holifield said. "I know they are going to be a tough opponent right off the bat."
Holifield said that the tournament last year was an outstanding success, taking place of the Sikeston Invitational that ran for 34 years.
"It's such a great atmosphere, and it's centrally located," Holifield said. "I think it's a great situation and I don't think you can beat the atmosphere we had last year, especially on championship night."
"I think it's one of the top tournaments in the state," he added. "Every year we have state titles or final four teams out of the SEMO Conference, and I think getting these teams together is a great idea."
The tournament will proceed after Tuesday night, to Wednesday in the consolation round, and then on to Thursday evening, where all of the winners will be playing their respective opponents.
The fifth-place game is set for Friday night at 6:30 p.m., followed by the third-place game which will be in action at 7 p.m.
All 10 teams will be shooting for the championship game, which will be played at 8:30 p.m. Friday night.