With the high school basketball postseason less than a week away for the small schools, conference titles across the region will be decided in the coming days.
For the Ozark Conference, as usual, the championship will have a Springfield feel.
In fact, when Hillcrest travels to Kickapoo for a Feb. 19 game, the teams could be closing their regular seasons with matching 8-0 marks and playing for the outright Ozark Conference title.
“I would imagine Hillcrest will come into next week at 8-0 (in the conference),” Kickapoo coach Dick Rippee said Monday at the final regular Tip-Off Club meeting.
To which Hillcrest coach John Schaefer piped in: “I’m glad you’re so confident.”
But it’s reasonable to assume the game will have championship implications, as Kickapoo (17-5) has a trip to Rolla tonight, but then will play host to talented Waynesville on Friday.
Hillcrest (15-5) plays host to West Plains for senior night tonight, and then plays Friday at Camdenton.
In the Central Ozark Conference, Branson is in the driver’s seat with three Large Division games remaining. The Pirates play host to Neosho tonight, at home against Carthage on Friday, and then plays at Republic on Feb. 22. Republic and Nixa, with one loss apiece in the COC, need Branson to slip to get back in the title picture.
The Tip-Off Club will take next week off before its annual senior banquet on Feb. 25. There, the club will award the Marty Eddlemon Memorial Senior MVP to the city’s top senior and also the Jack Roberts Memorial Coach of the Year to the city’s top coach.
The banquet is at noon Feb. 25 at Coyote’s Adobe Café, 1742 south Glenstone Ave. It’s open to the public and costs $9.
Nixa senior forward Jalen Norman, who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, told the News-Leader late Sunday night that he received a scholarship offer from Boston College over the weekend.
Norman, an All-Ozarks player, tore his medial collateral ligament in his right knee in January, and said he remains committed to attending Quakerdale Prep in New Providence, Iowa, next year for a post-graduation season.
Norman said Sunday the Boston College offer would be available after his post-graduation year.
Ozark senior Jakob Neidig will sign a letter of intent to play soccer for Missouri State University. The ceremony is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. today in the school library.
Neidig has scored 78 goals as a four-year starter for the Tigers and has played the past few years for the Springfield Soccer Club, including on its State Cup championship team in 2011.
He was a second-team selection on the News-Leader All-Ozarks soccer team in 2012.
In addition, Clever baseball player Ranger Curtis will sign with Hannibal-LaGrange at 10:30 a.m. today.
Bolivar linebacker Bryce Warden has signed with the Avila football program.