Coach after coach, repeatedly say that this season's tourney will likely have an unlikely winner. With the recent regular season losses of upper seeds in the bracket, to lower seeds, the tournament title will be up for grabs when action begins on Wednesday afternoon.
Portageville head coach Jim Bidewell said that this year's tournament is as wide open as he's ever seen it.
"(It goes) all the way down to the No. 14 seed beating the No. 4 seed," Bidewell said. "Kennett is the No. 10 seed, and they've beaten the No. 1 seed already this season."
"It's crazy, but it's good, because it gives everybody a hope to win it," Bidewell added. "It will be fun for schools that haven't had a chance in the past. This year, it gives them a chance."
Bidewell added that the seedings are pretty even from top to bottom.
East Prairie head coach Matt Schonhoff's first words were that the tournament was wide open as well.
"We've seen the No. 8 seed beat the No. 1 seed last week," Schonhoff said. "We (East Prairie) beat Bloomfield last night. (Dec. 18) Anybody can beat anybody on any given night."
Schonhoff said that in order for his team to win, they'll have to cut down on turnovers, but stated that his club is finally getting healthy, and that will be a key factor for the squad in the tournament.
In the 2006 tournament, Malden beat Doniphan in the finals, taking a stand after falling to the Dons in the 2005 finals.
Previous to the 2005 tournament, the Dexter Bearcats were the team to beat, winning the title seven years in a row, from 1998-2004. In 2005 the Bearcats took fifth place, while in 2006 they finished in sixth.
In the Bearcats' last title run in 2004, they fended off Portageville, 56-55, in a close battle.
This year in the tournament, Dexter will face off against Puxico in the first round. Bearcats' coach Rob Nichols view on the tournament, was nearly an exact replica of what Schonhoff and Bidewell had to say.
"It's a pretty balanced field," Nichols said. "It's a wide open field for the first time in years."
"I think that Puxico was underseeded at No. 12," he added. "They were district champs last year, and they beat us in the regular season. This tournament is always a good tournament."
Portageville's last championship came in 1992, where they defeated Bernie 73-70, and previous to that was in 1990, where they handed Malden a loss 68-64. The Bulldogs have reached the finals eight times since 1990, only claiming two titles.
East Prairie comes in with the most to gain, as they have not captured a tournament title in any of their previous appearances. The Eagles reached the finals in 1985, but lost to Twin Rivers by a score of 66-44.
The Richland Rebels showed early success in the tournament, but haven't reached the title game since 1977, where they lost to Poplar Bluff 70-51. Previous to '77, the Rebels claimed the title in '76, '71, '63 and '62. Tournament action begins Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Game 1 with No. 1 Hayti vs. No. 16 East Carter.
Bloomfield Christmas Tournament schedule
>(1) Hayti vs. (16) East Carter County, 10 a.m.
>(2) Bernie vs. (15) Greenville, 11:15 a.m.
>(3) Doniphan vs. (14) East Prairie, 12:30 p.m.
>(4) Bloomfield vs. (13) Van Buren, 1:45 p.m.
>(5) Dexter vs. (12) Puxico, 3:30 p.m.
>(6) Twin Rivers vs. (11) South Pemiscot, 5 p.m.
>(7) Malden vs. (10) Kennett, 6:30 p.m.
>(8) Richland vs. (9) Portageville, 8 p.m.
>Quarterfinals 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7p.m., 8:30 p.m.
>Consolation quarterfinals, 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m.
>Semifinals, 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
>Fifth-place semifinals, 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
>Consolation semifinals, 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Saturday >Championship, 8:30 p.m.
>Third place, 7 p.m.
>Fifth place, 5:30 p.m.
>Consolation final, 4 p.m.