Nobody asked me but...is Poplar Bluff ready for the carnival that is Scott County Central and Bell City?
The Braves and Cubs will meet on Wednesday night in a Class 1 boys sectional game. I will go out on a limb (scary, noting my girth at the present time) and state that the winner will probably move on to make the final four.
What a great story line these two clubs bring to the table. I will stay clear of the off the court stuff and concentrate on the actual game. Having said all that, I like to think of this rivalry as the "Hatfield and McCoy's" of area basketball. Folks, these schools plain don't like each other and I like it. I haven't seen this much bad blood between opponents since the Bears and the Yankees of the California Youth Baseball League of the 1970s (Yes, a Bad News Bears analogy).
On the court, the Braves have a three-headed scoring monster in D.D. Gillespie, Caleb Johnson and the wolf (Drew Thomas). In addition, freshman Bobby Hatchett is fast becoming a premiere point guard in the area at an early age.
For the Cubs, it begins with 6-foot-10 SEMO verbal commit Will Bogan. This guy is close to unstoppable, particularly in Class 1 basketball where there just isn't anyone big enough to match up.
Bogan has nice, soft hands and surprisingly good footwork for a big man. Sharp-shooting Nick Niemcyzk has in-the-gym range and Scott Central needs to keep an eye on his every movement.
The only team that can stop Bogan is Bell City. Will they get the big guy the ball? It was something they didn't do in last year's state championship game and it ultimately led to their defeat. Plus, Bogan must stay out of foul trouble for the Cubs to have a chance.
Junior Phillip Gross provides a third scoring threat and rebounder. Although liberally listed at 6-1, Gross routinely has concussions as a result of banging his head on the ceiling when going up for dunks.
Bell City has no answer for Gillespie, Johnson or Thomas. On the flip side, Scott Central definitely has no answer for Bogan. In the end, Bogan will be too much for the Braves, and the Cubs will move forward and probably play for another state title in a few weeks.
Bell City 82, Scott Central 78.
* I am not saying that Charleston will destroy Malden, but Charleston will destroy Malden. Besides Doniphan, who have the Green Wave played this year? I will take the playoff experience and rugged schedule of the 'Jays.
Malden does matchup well with Charleston as far as size and athleticism. In fact, they probably match up man for man better than any team in the area. However, Malden has no answer for Justin Clark and I firmly believe the battle of the point guards will be won by the Bluejays' Shawn Sherrell over Malden's Alonzo Louis.
In addition, look for Jamarcus Williams to have a huge game down in the paint for Charleston. Once the Green Wave adjust and double-team Williams, Clark will be wide open on the perimeter. I suggest a solid zone defense for Malden. Just a suggestion.
I remember last year at this time everybody thought Doniphan with 6-10 Matt Rogers, would take down Charleston. The 'Jays had little trouble with the Dons. Once it gets around playoff time, Charleston takes it to a another level. I guess you can say the "Factory" is at peak production. I do, anyway.
Charleston 72, Malden 56
* On the girls side in Class 1, the undefeated Delta Lady Bobcats will struggle, but ultimately defeat the Bravettes of Scott Central.
The last time these two schools faced each other, Delta had to come from behind to earn a two-point victory in the last game for both teams in the regular season.
Both clubs have star point guards in Scott Central's Brittney Peet and Delta's Kaci Menz.
The difference in the game could be the post play. Delta has three threats in the paint with Ashley Deprow, Sara Blattel and Jodi Menz.
The Lady Bobcats should control the interior against the under-sized Bravettes.
In their last meeting, Kaci Menz struggled from the floor. Don't look for a repeat this time around.
Delta 56, Scott Central 50
And finally, nobody asked me but...sorry Kelly fans, the Doniphan Donettes will defeat your Lady Hawks for a third straight time in sectional play. Doniphan senior Morgan Davis is a lights-out shooter and will be tough to defend. Kelly has issues hitting the perimeter shot consistently.
The Donettes in a nail-biter.
Doniphan 60, Kelly 57