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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Christmas tournaments - the good and the bad

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

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After a weekend of watching and reporting scores from the St. Dominic, seMissourian and Bloomfield Christmas tournament's, I would be lying if I said I was overly impressed with what I saw.

Sikeston, although picked by almost anyone with a pulse to win their third straight St. Dominic tournament title, had a bit of a struggle bringing home a championship.

Nonetheless, the Bulldogs remained undefeated on the year beating Fort Zumwalt South by a mere three points.

As expected, the Bluejays rolled through the Cape tourney as easily as I do through a plate of my momma's home cooked food. I love the holidays, by the way.

Charleston won their four games by an average of 37 points -- a "premier" performance from a not-so "premier" tournament field, in my opinion.

And, for the first time in school history, Holcomb won the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament over the three-time defending champion Kennett on New Year's Eve.

The Hornets were the sixth seed in a very average field. The top 10 teams could be considered on par with each other -- not to impugn the job done by the Hornets. A sixth seed winning a tournament? It's what we all like to see.

In most cases, other than the Bloomfield tournament, seeing the underdog winning tournament's like the Cape tourney won't happen.

I bring all this up because if I could count the people who have told me the seMissourian Christmas tournament was the least exciting, most 'I know what's going to happen' bracket in the history of tournaments, my head would still be hurting from all those high numbers we people who use words for a living are so afraid of.

It's no one's fault. A bracket like Cape's that is traditionally bloated on the top half and struggling to tread water on the bottom has no way to provide a better atmosphere of basketball competition.

It's like that most every year and it won't change either.

The bigger, "better" teams -- Charleston, Cape Central, Notre Dame, Jackson -- are more times than not going to be standing at center court after the last game has been played.

I don't consider Scott County Central as a small school when it comes to basketball, although, they didn't have the best showing last weekend. I won't get into that though. That's a whole other column...

Since 1970, 39 times the 'big guys' mentioned above -- including SCC -- have won the tournament. Only four times since then a 'little' school was named the champion.

Charleston has dominated the tournament winning a record 17 times. Cape Central is second with 10 and Scott Central has seven titles.

The reason the Cape tournament continues to thrive is because as fans we hope and we pray that a Holcomb can make a run through the big guys. Everyone likes the upset, the little guy, the 'Rudy' if you will. (Jan. 7 is rapidly approaching!!! Go Irish!!!)

So, we sit through awful, no good, horrible, very bad games in hopes that one year we'll have that upset. We want Cinderella to finally get to the ball, but it probably won't happen.

We also, to some extent, like to see the best teams play each other. We like upsets, sure. But a final of Woodland and Delta probably wouldn't draw a crowd.

The teams won't change. The small schools that basically have no way of winning it ever aren't going anywhere. It's hard to turn down the green stuff that can fund a huge chunk of a school's athletic department.

They're also not going to turn down the opportunity to play on a college court in front of thousands of fans.

You can't change the format of the tournament either. Cutting the bracket in half so that a 'gold bracket' can play the 'silver bracket' to determine a champion would simply be another thrashing of the silver champion at the hands of the golden champs.

I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said before, I know. The seMissourian Christmas Tournament has provided countless fans a fun, traditional way to spend their Christmas break for the past 68 years. That, like the constant beatings on the court, won't change either.

Heck, my two little munchkins went to their first Cape tournament this past weekend. I must say, my seven year old daughter belting post-Christmas tunes such as "Up On The Housetop" to random strangers in the stands was much more entertaining than the game that was going on below us.

So, we'll sit through the blowouts and the expected results so that maybe one day we'll all have something memorable to recall when the wee little school topples the favorite.

And that's okay by me.

Just because five teams are usually going to dominate, shouldn't deter you from witnessing the battles that it takes to get to the final day.

It may not be the most exciting, high-flying, buzzer beater every game type of tournament, but it's the tradition that keeps people coming back.

I'll keep rooting for the underdogs while hoping for a more competitve field.

I'll also keep eating momma's cooking. She even lets me have the leftovers.