By Dean Backes
The end is near and the stage is set for Missouri’s Class 4 and Class 5 boys and girls Show Me Show Downs – Missouri high school basketball’s Final Four – and the small school classes aren’t far behind. Here is a look at how each classification should turn out.
Girls Class 5
Hickman Mills has to be the pick here. They are undefeated and have led the polls all season long. In back-to-back games in December they went over the century mark while totally shutting down Don Bosco and St. Joseph Lafayette. Against Bosco, eight players scored in double figures in a 129-6 win. How can you pick against that! St. Joseph’s Academy should face Hickman Mills in the finals.
Top Class 5 Girls Players to Watch: Jaleshia Roberson (Hickman Mills), LeAndrea Thomas (Hickman Mills), Polly Harrington (Hickman Mills), Candice Akers (Hickman Mills), Myrtie Reilly (St. Joseph’s Academy), Britteni Williams (Incarnate Word Academy), Katherine Harry (Rock Bridge)
Girls Class 4
The championship match in this class appears to be in the semifinals where No. 1 Bolivar takes on second-ranked Berkeley. Once Bolivar dispatches the Bulldogs, the Liberators will seal the deal against Notre Dame de Sion’s balance.
Top Class 4 Girls Players to Watch: Casey Garrison (Bolivar), Rachel Sawyer (Bolivar), Meghan Lewis (Berkeley), Monai Douglass (Berkeley), Renee Kurtz (Notre Dame-St. Louis), Teresa Turner (Notre Dame de Sion), Stacey Schultz (Notre Dame de Sion), Kelley Murphy (Notre Dame de Sion).
Girls Class 3
With top-ranked Blair Oaks out of the way, South Shelby should waltz by Lutheran St. Charles and into the championship match against sixth-ranked Skyline. Erin Mayes and her teammates will then strike gold. After all, the Cardinals did not off Blair Oaks, 58-44.
Top Class 3 Girls Players to Watch: Erin Mayes (South Shelby), Sarah Woodgeard (Greenville), Samantha Sellmeyer (St. Pius X), Amber Romstad (St. Pius X), DeKeisha Mathis (Metro), Jasmine Cooper (Metro).
Girls Class 2
With three undefeated teams remaining in this class anything could go. Second-ranked Penney battles third-ranked Osceola in a battle of unbeatens with Penney coming out on top ever so slightly in one of the quarterfinals. Top-ranked Westran should survive tussles with Smithton and Crane before entering the championship match. Westran then finds a way to win it all over Penney.
Top Class 2 Girls Players to Watch: Jordan Garrison (Osceola), Brittany Percival (Hartville), Lindsay Vollmer (Penney), Deaven Omohundro (Clopton), Taryn Bruce (Penney), Maggie Amall (Hartville), Haillee Deckard (Naylor), Kayla Rice (Westran), Alina Voronenko (Smithton), Becca Schemmer (Westran).
Girls Class 1
This class will have a meeting of No. 1 and No. 2 in its championship match. Rock Port will first dispatch of Meadville, the only team in the field that has not lost, in the quarterfinals, then gets rid of Exeter to gain its finals berth. Second-ranked Cairo will win games against Silex and Macks Creek only to fall short against the top-ranked Bluejays.
Top Class 1 Girls Players to Watch: Kacey Sargent (Meadville), Kirsten Patterson (Tuscumbia), Tierney Webb (Tuscumbia), Whitney Lawson (Tuscumbia), Ashley Fleming (Silex), Brandi Roberts (Cairo), Whitney Edie (Exeter).
Boys Class 5
Could this be Drew Hanlen’s year? With top-ranked Raytown out of the way, one could say yes. But Webster Groves first has to get by Steve Moore and Truman (the team that upended Raytown). Then, Hanlen and Zach Redel will have to find a way to get by the defending champions McCluer North. With Femi John, Torres Roundtree and Anthony Booker waiting in the wings, anything could happen. Webster Groves in a tight one over the Stars.
Top Class 5 Boys Players to Watch: Drew Hanlen (Webster Groves), Femi John (McCluer North), Zach Redel (Webster Groves, Torres Roundtree (McCluer North), Anthony Booker (McCluer North), Josh McCoy (Fort Zumwalt South), Steve Moore (Truman).
Boys Class 4
Kramer Soderberg will get his championship. All St. Charles West has to do is get by second-ranked Webb City in a semifinal and the stage will be set. Once that win is secured the Warriors will edge by Notre Dame Cape Girardeau. This could be a good one. Notre Dame was runner-up to Ruskin in last season’s finals.
Top Class 4 Boys Players to Watch: Kramer Soderberg (St. Charles West), Beaumont Beasley (Lincoln Prep), Ryan Willen (Notre Dame-Cape Girardeau), Landon Zerkel (Webb City), Alex Bazzell (St. Charles West), Deron Lloyd (Lincoln Prep), Justin Henderson (Lincoln Prep).
Boys Class 3
Each game should get a little easier as Marcus Denmon and top-ranked Hogan Prep finds itself atop the podium following this year’s state basketball tournament. The Rams should face their stiffest competition right away in the quarterfinals against second-ranked St. Joseph Bishop LeBlond. Following that win, Hogan Prep will get by Bryant Allen and fourth-ranked Maplewood-Richmond Heights and seventh-ranked Highland.
Top Class 3 Boys Players to Watch: Dirk Verges (Maplewood-Richmond Heights), Marcus Denmon (Hogan Prep), Bryant Allen (Maplewood-Richmond Heights), Jayme Donnelly (Linn), Charles Dunbar (Lutheran North), Tyler Shaw (Lutheran North).
Boys Class 2
Clever has what it takes to win the Class 2 crown this year. But it won’t be easy. The Bluejays will upend Laquey in its tuneup for Harrisburg in the semifinals. Then Josh Pope, Bryce Huddleston and Jeremy Dresslaer will lead Clever to a slim championship win over third-ranked South Iron.
Top Class 2 Boys Players to Watch: David Prater (South Iron), Josh Pope (Clever), Bryce Huddleston (Clever), Jeremy Dresslaer (Clever), Erick Roe (West Platte).
Boys Class 1
It appears, this year’s championship match will take place in the semifinals when Scott County Central and undefeated Newtown-Harris butt heads. But first Scott County Central must take care of business against fifth-ranked Chadwick and the Tigers will have to find a way to win against Doug Archer and Jefferson. Clever gets the nod over Newtown-Harris, then goes on to out score fourth-ranked La Plata in the championship game.
Top Class 1 Boys Players to Watch: Doug Archer (Jefferson), D. D. Gillespie (Scott County Central), Caleb Johnson (Scott County Central), K. J. Cool (Newtown-Harris), Patrick Holt (Chadwick), Jay Lee (Glasgow), Drew Thomas (Scott County Central).
Missouri Girls State Basketball Tournament Picks
Hickman Mills (29-0) over Incarnate Word Academy (28-3)
St. Joseph’s Academy (25-4) over Columbia Rock Bridge (23-6)
Championship – Hickman Mills (30-0) over St. Joseph’s Academy (26-4)
Consolation – Incarnate Word Academy (28-4) over Columbia Rock Bridge (23-7)
Notre Dame de Sion (21-8) over Notre Dame-St. Louis (21-7)
Bolivar (27-2) over Berkeley (26-3)
Championship – Bolivar (28-2) over Notre Dame de Sion (22-8)
Consolation – Berkeley (26-4) over Notre Dame-St. Louis (21-8)
Greenville (22-4) over Metro (17-10)
Skyline (26-3) over St. Pius X (14-12)
South Shelby (26-1) over Lutheran St. Charles (17-12)
Aurora (19-12) over Hermann (23-6)
Skyline (27-3) over Greenville (23-4)
South Shelby (27-1) over Aurora (20-12)
Championship – South Shelby (28-1) over Skyline (28-3)
Consolation – Aurora (20-13) over Greenville (23-5)
Clopton (21-7) over Naylor (24-2)
Penney (29-0) over Osceola (26-0)
Westran (28-0) over Smithton (26-2)
Crane (21-6) over Hartville (19-5)
Penney (30-0) over Clopton (22-7)
Westran (29-0) over Crane (22-6)
Championship – Westran (30-0) over Penney (31-0)
Consolation – Clopton (22-8) over Crane (22-7)
Exeter (24-3) over Delta (23-2)
Rock Port (26-3) over Meadville (28-0)
Cairo (24-3) over Silex (21-8)
Macks Creek (22-6) over Tuscumbia (22-7)
Rock Port (27-3) over Exeter (25-3)
Cairo (25-3) over Macks Creek (23-6)
Championship - Rock Port (28-3) over Cairo (26-3)
Consolation – Exeter (25-4) over Macks Creek (23-7)
Missouri Boys State Basketball Tournament Picks
Webster Groves (27-3) over Truman (20-8)
McCluer North (24-4) over Fort Zumwalt South (26-3)
Championship – Webster Groves (28-3) over McCluer North (25-4)
Consolation – Fort Zumwalt South (26-4) over Truman (20-9)
Cape Girardeau Notre Dame (22-6) over Lincoln Prep (21-8)
St. Charles West (28-1) over Webb City (24-4)
Championship – St. Charles West (29-1) over Cape Girardeau Notre Dame (23-6)
Consolation – Webb City (24-5) over Lincoln Prep (21-9)
Maplewood-Richmond Heights (25-4) over New Madrid County (17-10)
Hogan Prep (23-4) over Bishop LeBlond (21-6)
Highland (20-6) over Lutheran North (19-11)
Linn (26-3) over Spokane (22-6)
Hogan Prep (24-4) over Maplewood-Richmond Heights (26-4)
Highland (21-6) over Linn (27-3)
Championship – Hogan Prep (25-4) over Highland (22-6)
Consolation – Maplewood-Richmond Heights (26-5) over Linn (27-4)
Darkhorse: Bishop LeBlond
South Iron (28-1) over New Haven (18-10)
West Platte (23-6) over Lee’s Summit Community Christian (21-6)
Harrisburg (26-3) over Concordia (25-3)
Clever (27-3) over Laquey (26-3)
South Iron (29-1) over West Platte (24-6)
Clever (28-3) over Harrisburg (27-3)
Championship – Clever (29-3) over South Iron (30-1)
Consolation – Harrisburg (27-4) over West Platte (24-7)
Darkhorse: Lee’s Summit Community Christian
Scott County Central (24-2) over Chadwick (24-4)
Newtown-Harris (29-0) over Jefferson (26-2)
La Plata (28-1) over Glasgow (27-2)
Fair Play (26-2) over Pilot Grove (25-3)
Scott County Central (25-2) over Newtown-Harris (30-0)
La Plata (29-1) over Fair Play (27-2)
Championship – Scott County Central (26-2) over La Plata (30-1)
Consolation – Newtown-Harris (30-1) over Fair Play (27-3)