By the end of Saturday night, the SoBoCo Eagles basketball teams could be celebrating a pair of Class 3 District 9 championships – just like they did at the Tri-County Conference Tournament in early January – or they could be getting ready for baseball and girls soccer season.
The Eagle enter this week’s district play as the underdogs – the Eagles girls are seeded third and the Eagles boys are seeded second – but both brackets have multiple teams who could emerge with the trophy in what will be the most competitive Class 3 Mid-Missouri district in years.
The District 9 girls bracket has four teams ranked in the top 10 and the boys bracket has three teams which could be picked as the top seed – and two others who could surprise anyone.
How the Eagles girls could win:
SoBoCo enters the tournament at 19-5, is the reigning two-time district champs and went to the Final Four last season.
So how are they seeded third?
After winning the Tri-County Conference title, the Eagles girls went on a cold spell in which they lost to California, Boonville and Eldon. Those loses exposed the Eagles offense and provided a blueprint on how to defend them: Face guard Kylie Shoot, prevent Skyler Beeson from driving the lane and play the game at a deliberate pace. On offense, throw the ball over the top of the Eagles defense and let your biggest player score inside.
It looks like a tailor-made plan for the Tolton Trailblazers. With a big post player, the second-seeded Blazers are 18-4 and are seeded second in the tournament.
However, the Eagles have been capable of beating teams with Tolton’s size and Beeson has proven her ability in the past two weeks to adjust to defenses, scoring from the inside and outside. No doubt, the Eagles will need some big outside shooting games from Shoot, but the key to getting past Tolton and getting into the championship game – likely against top seed unbeaten St. James – will be the defense and rebounding of Emma Anderson, mistake-free play from the bench and the ability of Meagan Barnett.
Barnett, who suffered a concussion earlier this season and missed a few weeks, is back to full speed and her defense and speed could be a key to breaking up the Tolton attack.
Eagles coach Tony Phillips has emphasized all season that his team needs to protect the ball on every possession. That will be a bigger key than ever before this week as SoBoCo will simply need to get the ball cleanly to Shoot, Beeson or Barnett. The more shots that trio has, the more points SoBoCo will put on the board. It sounds simple – and it really is. The Eagles can shoot their way into the finals over Tolton and then could get into a shootout with the favorites from St. James.
Once a team is in the finals, as Eagles boys assistant coach Pat Lacy likes to say, you at least have a chance – anything can happen.
The Eagles boys team may not look like it, but they are mired in a shooting slump that goes back to their loss to Fulton two weeks ago.
SoBoCo has lost two of their four games since – to the Hornets and highly-ranked Class 4 Helias – and survived in a win at Hallsville and won over an out-manned Warsaw team on Friday.
Since winning the Southern Boone Classic, the Eagles have seen their outside shooting fizzle and teams collapsing their defenses on Sam Stichnote in an effort to keep him away from the rim.
In the meantime, the top-seeded Blair Oaks Falcons will have the comfort of playing at home and are getting hotter every week. Big 6-5 Jason Rackers has shown the ability to take over a game – as he did in the Falcons’ 13-point win in Wardsville earlier this season – and the Falcons have shown they can reliably hit the 3-point shot, as they did when they narrowly lost to the Eagles in the conference tournament.
But third-seed Father Tolton might be the team that surprises everyone – but that should surprise no one.
The Trailblazers should be vulnerable, having lost everyone named “Porter” to private school recruiting wars. However, the Trailblazers, led by guard Isaiah Wilson, are 19-4 against a loaded schedule. All the Trailblazers did on Friday night was defeat Helias in Jefferson City – a win that should serve notice to the Eagles.
What can SoBoCo do to overcome the regional high school powerhouse the Trailblazers have become?
Shoot the ball well.
Coach Andy Jahnsen has an unselfish team that is willing to play any role necessary. Their passing is off-the-charts excellent and their defense is as good as any team in the area.
However, the 22-3 Eagles will need a strong offensive game from Maguire Scheer from the 3-point line and plenty of shooting an offensive attacks from Stichnote. Scoring from Spencer Taggart, Garrett Goodnight and Zane Safely will be critical to having a balanced attack – the Eagles are simply going to have to be hitting on all cylinders in order to win three games this week – starting with South Callaway on Tuesday night.