This is arguably the toughest power rankings I’ve ever done. My top three or four are pretty clear cut, in my opinion, but ranking all these teams in the middle are EXTREMELY difficult to figure out. Nonetheless, I still gave it my best shot and will have an even better idea next week, after all of these teams play some more competition. It’s amazing what weather can do when trying to figure out who’s the best, isn’t it?
Bracket for the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament is in the link below.
Action gets going December 26th at 10 A.M. at Bloomfield High School. TV Coverage available on YHC TV (New Wave Cable-21) & online at http://www.semosportszone.com
- Hayti-This is the most complete team to me in this field. Arguably, a huge favorite for me to return to Columbia as well. This team has come up big when they needed to the most by topping Caurthersville in the Lion Classic, taking care of South Pemiscot earlier in said Classic, and a big win against Portageville. Frankie and Brandon Burden are the two leaders on this squad, but they have a great supporting cast with Cedric Harris, Kenyatte Brooks, and Demetrious Luster. This team can come up clutch when need be, and instead of making noise early in the season, Coach Phillip Taylor and his Indians are making it happen now.
- Kennett-Antavies Drake and Kevonte Mitchell are the two stars of this squad. They’ve won three out of the last four christmas tournament titles, and who said they aren’t favorites to do it again? Only reason I have this team below Hayti,is because defense isn’t as strong as it used to be in my opinion. The team had good starts against Jackson and Sikeston in the SEMO Conference Tournament, but seemed to falter out in the 2nd quarter in both matchups. That being said, with the team returning to that tournament, it’s only going to make them better when it comes to District Play, since Kennett has moved on up to Class 4. Plus, playing in the same conference as Hayti, Caruthersville, and South Pemiscot is no easy task either.
- Bernie-This team is always solid year in and year out, winning 6 out of 7 Bernie/Holcomb/Whatever School Invitationals, and their fifth in a row. Yet, trying to replace key figures like David Baker,Landon Woods, and Sam Turner is always going to be tough. Nonetheless, they’ve knocked off all of their opponents by at least 22 points, and even at that was to a decent Holcomb squad. Plus,you never know who’s going to score more one night. One night could be Caleb Ellenberg, the other could be B.J. Jennings. They still have games against Woodland and Bell City next week, but do you really see them dropping those? Their first Major competition could come into play on Semifinal night, as a potential matchup with Hayti may be in store. But even at that, looking at their regular season schedule, they could escape with maybe 2 or 3 losses at most.
- South Pemiscot-This team was extremely close to taking a trip to sectionals, but fell to the Mules by just three points. Nonetheless, they look to make a deep run in the next few weeks at Bloomfield with most of their cast members from last season. The bad thing is that they fall usually right in the middle of that tough Class 2 District 1 Pool. The good news is, anyone can win on any given night in it as well. Look for them to make some noise.
- Holcomb-This is where things get a little difficult to gage and rank where teams should belong, but Holcomb is not as down as you think. Yes, they’ve lost most of their stars in Jamie Massey and Michael Glover, but Ryan Reeves and Company are looking to prove many wrong, as this squad is mostly new, but ready for the task to defend their Christmas Tournament title. They are a defensive minded squad by all means, so keep that in mind, as they haven’t passed 50 points this season. I love the chemistry that this program has had. However, we’ll get a better read on them after matches with Portageville and Hayti this week.
- Saxony Lutheran-The interesting thing about this squad is how much we don’t know on them. They’ve always been a defense intensive squad, but can shoot well in 3 point land, thanks to targets like Jack Lake, Hunter Coe, and Chse Steffens. The team won the Rolla “Duke” Herbert Classic this past week in Crystal City thanks to wins over Jefferson and Ste. Geneveive. The team also has taken home a win over Herculaneum as well. They’ve dominated in the north, but how will that translate to the competition they’ll be against in the boot? The crusaders have Chaffee and Perryville on the road this week.
- Twin Rivers-This has always been a team moving around in the middle, but never seems to break out to me. However, they’re also 2-1 on the year with a win over Bloomfield by 3, but losing to bernie by 23. Games against Dexter and Bloomfield have been currently postponed, but should be rescheduled soon. Nathan Watson has led TR in shooting, but great guard play has came from Chance Wilkerson as well. The team takes on Clearwater Friday, a team almost built exactly like this royals squad.
- Dexter-I recieved a lot of flack on putting dexter in the lower seeds last year, but that unfortunately reflected the quality of play-not good. This year though, Coach Nichols and the Bearcats look to bring back a winning tradition to Dexter, and it all begins with veteran leadership under Noah Kronk and D.J. Dowdy. You never really know what to expect with this squad, especially the past few seasons. Nonetheless, they’ve only played one game. They take on Jackson and Richland this week, so maybe then we’ll see who’s starting off hot from there.
- Portageville-This squad is returns 5 varsity players to its squad, including Center Caleb Gooch, and A.V. Banks. They’ve only had one game against Hayti on the year, a 63-46 loss, but its hard to judge on just one game. However their road to taking home a trophy won’t be easy, as they come in with the 10 seed, taking on Dexter first. Setting up a potential rematch with Hayti in the second round.
- Bloomfield-Young and Resilient. That’s the words I would use to describe Bloomfield this season, as they have no juniors, but some senior leadership with Tim Fox and Austin Battles. However strong sophomore shooters are brewing in Noah Vandiver and Nathan Newell. Nonetheless, they win games on defense, as the cats have held opponents under 50 points on the year, much like Holcomb. But their ability to close games late is something that needs to be adjusted. Then again, they slowed down what’s supposed to be a High-Octane Puxico squad in Quarterfinal play of the Bernie Invitational. They have a tough test against Advance Friday night, before starting tournament play against Saxony Lutheran for the 4th consecutive season in the tournament. They’ve lost to the crusaders every time.
- Malden-Coach Andrew Halford is taking over a squad with a lot of energy and potential led by star Cortez Dobbins. He dropped 35 points on Advance in the opening round of the Oran Invitational. Then again, he can’t do it all on his own. The Greenwave stand at 1-1 on the year, with a win over Bell City, but a grueling loss to Advance. Once again, another team tough to gauge now, but we’ll get a better idea after games against Kennett and a consolation championship game against Kelly at Oran later this week. Chances are 2-2 isn’t a bad start for a small squad.
- Doniphan-Once the sweethearts of the Bloomfield Tournament have been a victim of the graduation bug, and losing key big guys in the middle is not what you’re looking for. Then again, this team has faced against two powerhouses in their respective classes with Wionna and Liberty. They have a tough task against Portageville, before taking their talents to Bloomfield.
- East Prairie-Safe to say, I have no idea what to expect from this squad. They had a big Turbo-Clock winner against Delta a few weeks ago, but let’s see what they’re really made of against Oak Ridge coming up this week. Then again, we’ve heard good things about this team. I’ll believe it when I see it on the court.
- Puxico-What was supposed to be a preseason favorite, has now fallen on rougher times after being upset by #7 Bloomfield in the Bernie Invitational, along with a loss to Advance this past friday. They come in with wins over Naylor, Van Buren, and former Christmas Tournament player Greenville. But when we start to see them against stiffer competition, we’ll see how much they can bring the heat in fastest 32 minutes in Basketball. They sure do love that full court press.
- Van Buren-I’m not going to lie, I know very little about this squad at the moment, so I may need some help from you guys on giving me an idea about them. I know they did drop a game to Puxico, but picked up a win against Seymour as well. Does the coaching staff still do the sweater-vests up there though?
- Richland-Losing Forshee was killer for this team. No good guard play=No Good Season for you. Or at least a run in this tournament.
Like I said, this is always the hardest To Gauge in rankings before we see them play, but this is a blind taste test as well. We’ll see how these teams fare in games this week, and I’ll provide an updated rankings next Sunday or Monday as well.