Before Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament officials unveiled this year’s bracket, former Republic High School standout Don Carlson detailed a 1962 game when his Tigers topped Parkview in a classic one-point final.
Fifty years later, they could be in for a rematch.
As the seeds were announced Wednesday, the biggest question heading into the proceedings was which undefeated team would join two-time defending champion Nixa as top seeds in the Dec. 26-29 event.
Nixa is the No. 1 seed in the Blue Division and Parkview No. 1 in the Gold, with Republic also in the Gold field, but facing a tougher road as a No. 2. Central Ozark Conference foes Willard (seeded third) and Branson (sixth) join first-year coach Trevyor Fisher’s team in the bottom half of the bracket.
“I think it was a toss-up with us and Parkview, and really we’re in the same division, so it just all shakes out,” said Fisher, one of nine coaches in the field with their program for the first year. “Just being on the sideline for the first time will really be a neat deal.”
Fisher played in four Blue and Gold events for Greenwood and his father, Springfield Public Schools Athletic Director Mark Fisher, is the former tournament director. He also attended many while playing and coaching with the Missouri State University basketball program.
Meanwhile, Parkview coach Bill Brown has a shot at his first Blue and Gold title after runner-up finishes in 2004 and 2010.
Led by seniors Erik Durham, AJ Green and Nathan Reichert, who all played key roles in 2010, the top seed means Brown’s team could have as good a shot as any he’s had.
“It’s a sign of our program improving,” Brown said. “In the past, we would’ve been a two or three seed and I think this year, since we’ve had a few years under our belt where we’ve been successful and have good returning quality players, it’s just an opportunity that our kids are looking forward to.”
That 2010 team was stopped in the final by coach Jay Osborne’s Nixa team, which raced through the field last year, too. The area’s best team, Nixa will once again have the target and the burden of being heavy favorites.
“We’re always going to get everyone’s best effort, that’s just a given and we’ve known that for several years,” Osborne said. “And that’s OK because, our kids don’t believe us sometimes, but it’s true: When we start games, teams are ready to play us.”
The tournaments are held at Missouri State and this year’s brackets have a Bears feel to them. In addition to Fisher, former Bears coach Mark Bernsen is a first-time coach with Mountain Grove, as is Crane’s Dale Lamberth, who will play fellow former MSU standout Scott Brakebill’s Miller Cardinals in the first round. Brown also is a former then-SMS player.
Carlson and the eventual state champion 1962-63 Republic team will be honored as a past champion.
The former Southwest Missouri State standout, who is battling cancer, was emotional Wednesday as he addressed the coaches and administrators at the annual seeding meeting.
“Basketball has been very good to me,” Carlson said. “I just love the game.”