Charleston tops seeding for Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament

Monday, December 10, 2012
Central’s Al Young takes a shot against Notre Dame’s Cody DeBrock during the second quarter of the SEMO Conference Tournament third-place game Friday in Sikeston, Mo. Central won 54-43, which helped the Tigers to the second seed in the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament. Notre Dame is seeded third. (Fred Lynch)

If Southeast Missouri State basketball coach Dickey Nutt could have his way, his roster would be full of homegrown talent.

That's what he told a room full of high school coaches at the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament seeding meeting Sunday evening at the Show Me Center.

"I'll tell you what I'd love to have, my philosophy is very simple -- I would love to have every player on my team from Southeast Missouri," Nutt said. "I really would. I mean that with all my heart, but I know that that's impossible."

Nutt told the coaches that while he knows he must travel throughout the state and the country to recruit, having the Show Me Center host the 16-team boys basketball tournament is important to the Southeast program.

"The reason it's so important to me is because a lot of times, nine out of 10 times, your players -- maybe their moms, dads, grandmoms or granddads or whatever, cousins or uncles -- may not ever come into this building unless it's up to you, unless you have a team here playing, and I understand that."

The tournament, which draws thousands of fans each year, routinely attracts more people to the Show Me Center than Nutt's Redhawks.

"We are so proud to have this tournament here because it's good for us," Nutt said afterward. "These guys -- we're so proud of these young guys that are playing basketball. ... They're all stars, but, who knows, one day they could be Division I basketball players. When they play in this tournament, it gives them an opportunity to come into our place, they use our dressing rooms and they use our floor and they come to our coliseum, and it's just a great thing for us."

Defending tournament and Class 3 state champion Charleston was the coaches' unanimous pick for the No. 1 seed. Central was seeded second, Notre Dame third and defending Class 1 champion Scott County Central was fourth.

Charleston coach Danny Farmer, who is no stranger to bringing a top-seeded team to the tournament, said he thinks earning the top spot can affect a team.

"I think it does," Farmer said. "I think you could take a team lightly and take the tournament lightly. You could be less focused. We've got to come in focused. We need to realize that we've got that target on our backs and can't slip up."

Jackson and Leopold tied for the No. 5 seed, but Jackson won a coin flip to claim the fifth spot while Leopold took the No. 6 seed.

That's the same slot the Wildcats were seeded and finished during last year's tournament.

Leopold coach Andy Beck said the school has been seeded sixth twice before but never higher, and that his team, which includes seven seniors, embraces and appreciates the opportunity to make school history.

"They do," Beck said. "Our school's never won a district title, so our kids know they want to be that first team. They want to be the first team to do a lot of things that their dad and their uncle -- none of those guys have ever got to do. They love that pressure. They love that expectation. They want that expectation."

Advance, which was narrowly defeated by SCC in the Oran Invitational Tournament championship, got the No. 7 seed, followed by No. 8 Oran, No. 9 Scott City and No. 10 Chaffee, No. 11 Oak Ridge, No. 12 Kelly, No. 13 Woodland, No. 14 Bell City, No. 15 Meadow Heights and No. 16 Delta.

Ticket prices to the tournament, which runs Dec. 26 to 29, will remain $4 for adults and $3 for children in school.

"As everybody knows, we've got the No. 1 attendance here at the Show Me Center," tournament director Mitch Wood said. "The reason why is we try to make it affordable plus put on a good show for them."

It was Wood who asked Nutt to address the coaches at the meeting.

"We've been acquaintances since he's been here, and I just like listening to him and some of the things he says, but on top of that I think he does a great job," Wood said. "He's doing a good job, and I want to help him promote his program here in Southeast Missouri because he shows up. He's here during the tournament. He's here all the time. He's just good for the community."

Nutt said it was at the tournament that he first saw current Redhawk and Notre Dame alum Jacob Tolbert, and he noted that Southeast players Nick Niemczyk (Bell City) and Michael Porter (Sikeston) also played on the Show Me Center floor during high school, though Porter didn't participate in the tournament.

"I give him a lot of credit for putting on a tournament," Nutt said about Wood. "We're so thankful for him, because he could take this tournament anywhere, but he brings it here. And it's important to us, because when we recruit I'm able to stay home and go right out there on the front row and watch and watch ball all day long. I can see all of these area coaches. It's a good thing for us, and we hope it's good for them."

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