Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament set to start

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Editor's note: Wednesday's games have been postponed due to weather. Read a full update here.

Put down the presents.

Wrap up what's left of your Christmas ham and put it on ice. And hands off those holiday cookies.

It's time to get down to business.

The Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament begins today.

Sixteen area high school boys basketball teams will take to the court at the Show Me Center beginning at 9 a.m. today and culminate in Saturday's championship game at 8:30 p.m. Some 28 games will be played over four days in order to crown the 2012 champion.

Charleston (6-1), currently ranked third in Class 3 in the latest MBCA/ coaches poll, returns to defend its championship. The top-seeded Bluejays defeated Notre Dame 58-50 in last year's title game. Other state-ranked teams in the field are seventh-seeded Advance (6-1, No. 9 in Class 2), sixth seed Leopold (7-0, No. 8 in Class 1) and ninth seed Scott County Central (4-4, No. 10 in Class 1).

Central (3-3) is the second seed, followed by Notre Dame (3-5), Jackson (4-4) is seeded fifth.

"I really think it's a pretty balanced field," Central coach Drew Church said. "A lot of teams could make a push for the title game. Top to bottom, I think it's a pretty competitive field."

Church said a key for the Tigers heading into the tournament is consistency.

"We're up and down," he said. "Some days we look OK, some days we don't. I hope we come ready to play."

Oak Ridge coach Adam Stoneking agrees with Church's assesment of a balanced field.

"Outside of one or two teams I think it's pretty wide open," Stoneking said. "Any team could be there on the last day."

His Blue jays (7-1) knocked off defending Class 1 state champion and ninth-seeded Scott County Central 59-49 a week ago and head into today's game against Leopold as the 11th seed.

"I like how our team is playing right now," Stoneking said. "There are a couple times during the course of the season that you want to be peaking -- about mid-season and at the end of the season. We're at one of those highs right now."

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