Tigers look forward to a lift from newest additions

Friday, December 13, 2002

The Central Tigers boys basketball team, 4-21 a year ago, has made strides in coach Derek McCord's second season and reinforcements are on the way.

The Tigers are 3-2 and will soon bolster their front line, one of the thinnest areas, with the addition of junior Mitch Craft and senior Monroe Hicks. The pair recently began practicing with the Tigers after playing starring roles on Central's football team, which finished 10-2 and reached the Class 4 quarterfinals.

"I think we have a good nucleus and any time you can add a couple good athletes it can give you a shot in the arm," McCord said.

Craft, who carries 205 pounds on a 6-foot-2 frame, started for McCord at the beginning of last season but was forced to quit when a rib injury suffered in football never fully healed.

"Mitch obviously knows a lot of things we do," McCord said. "The difference this year is he's healthy."

A two-year starter at quarterback in football, Craft will step in as a power forward.

"We're excited about his strength," McCord said. "He can rebound and score inside."

Hicks, a two-time all-state safety in football, is a little more of an unknown. He hasn't played basketball in his previous three years at Central. McCord projects him as a small forward.

"We're excited about his quickness, strength and ability to defend," McCord said.

Both players need to complete 14 practices before they can see game action. Eligibility wise, both will be available shortly before the seMissourian Christmas Tournament.

Christmas tournament keeps two-official format

Despite a change in the tournament's name, seMissourian Christmas Tournament director and Delta superintendent Tom Allen plans to keep much the same, including the two-man referee teams that sparked controversy last year.

Actually, representatives from the 16 schools in the tournament field decided to keep the status quo, including asking the same officials back from last year.

Last year the Cape Girardeau Officials Association wanted to keep the three-man crews that were adopted the previous season and responded by boycotting the tournament. All but four of the association's 40 members heeded the boycott, which later in the season led to a physical altercation between two association members.

The local officials association was not afforded an opportunity to boycott this year.

"I thought the officials we had worked hard and did a good job," Allen said. "I was pleased. And basically this year we have the same crew as last year with a few minor changes."

Allen said he didn't see the number of referees or referee affiliation as major issues last year and hasn't changed his view.

"It doesn't matter to me if they are or not," Allen said of referees belonging to the local organization. "As long as they have a valid license and they continue to do a credible job, I'm pleased."

Jackson leads field at HealthSouth tournament

Jackson has been awarded the top seed in the seventh annual HealthSouth Holiday Classic that begins Wednesday at the Show Me Center.

The eight-team field has always proved to be a tussle among the top girls teams in the area, who often are highly regarded statewide.

Poplar Bluff will be the second seed, followed by last year's Class 2 state champion Notre Dame, Cape Girardeau Central, Farmington, Dexter, Perryville and Sparta (Ill.).

"I think it's the strongest field we've ever had from top to bottom," tournament director Mark Ruark said.

Sparta and Dexter are new additions, replacing Massac Co. (Ill.) and Hopkinsville (Ky.).

Last year Notre Dame snapped Poplar Bluff's four-year reign by defeating the Mules in the championship game.

All first-round games will be Wednesday, beginning with Jackson and Sparta at 4 p.m.; Central and Farmington will meet at 5:30; Poplar Bluff and Perryville at 7; and Notre Dame and Dexter at 8:30.

The semifinals will be Thursday and the championship game at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

Hall shoots for 500th career win at Puxico

Advance boys' basketball coach Jim Hall will go for his 500th career victory tonight when the Hornets visit Puxico.

Hall is in his fifth season at Advance after a long tenure at Dexter.

Advance is 3-1 this season.

jbreer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 124

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