It will not be easy to top the first weekend of the high school state basketball championships, but 24 teams from around Missouri are in Columbia to give it a shot.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association breaks up the basketball championships into two weekends of hard-court excitement. Last weekend was for the larger Class 4 and 5 schools, and this weekend welcomes eight more schools from the other three classes.
The invasion of Missourians will mean little hotel space, long lines at restaurants and plenty of do-or-die basketball games for people to watch.
The MSHSAA will be hosting the event at Mizzou Arena, where about 29,000 fans attended games in the Class 4 and 5 tournaments.
To accommodate the increased number of teams, games will begin Thursday morning and be spread out through Friday and Saturday.
While the lower classes might not have as high-profile matchups as this past Saturday’s Class 5 boys’ final between Vashon and Poplar Bluff, there are intriguing teams.
Class 2 boasts two undefeated teams, one boys’ team and one girls’ team.
The Clopton High School girls’ team (30-0) will play Gainesville (26-3) in the semifinals Friday at 9:15 p.m. The boys’ team from Salisbury (30-0) will play Marionville (25-3) at 6:05 p.m. Friday.
Both schools are ranked No. 1 in the state in their respective class.
Three of the top four teams in the state made it to the girls’ Class 3 semifinals. No.1 St. Peter’s Lutheran (27-3) plays Springfield Catholic (18-11) at 9:15 p.m. Thursday; No. 2 Hancock (26-2) and No. 4 Pembroke Hill (25-3) clash at 7:40 Thursday night.
The Class 1 boys’ tournament is setting up for a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup in Friday’s final.
Jefferson and North Shelby play semifinal games Thursday. Each team is 29-1 and is ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state, respectively.
Jefferson will play defending champion Bell City (21-9), and North Shelby plays last year’s runner-up, St. Elizabeth (22-8).
Each day is broken into two sessions featuring games from one class.
Thursday will be the semifinals of Class 1 and Class 3. Friday will have the semifinal games for Class 2 and the finals for Class 1. Saturday’s games are the finals in Class 2 and Class 3.
Admission for each session is $6 and parking at the arena is free.