Kickapoo High School boys basketball coach Dick Rippee has fond memories of watching the Greenwood Blue and Gold basketball tournament as a kid.
The tournament enters its 70th year the day after Christmas. It will be about the 40th year that Rippee has followed the high school hoops action on the Missouri State campus.
“Coming from a guy that grew up in southwest Missouri and attended all the Blue and Golds with my dad, growing up in McDonald Arena and Hammons Center, and now JQH — there just haven’t been many of those since the mid-70’s that I have missed,” Rippee said.
Rippee now coaches his alma mater. Kickapoo comes into the 70th Blue and Gold ranked No. 2 in the Class 5 Missouri Basketball Coaches Association state poll. The Chiefs hold the No. 1 overall seed in the Blue Division, but needed a last-possession jumper from senior Isaac Johnson Friday night to squeak out a win over No. 3-seeded Ozark.
Ozark coach Mark Schweitzer said, moments after the loss, that his players would one day like another shot at district rival Kickapoo.
“We’re going to see them again, hopefully twice,” Schweitzer said. “It’s not guaranteed. Obviously, they’ve got to make the finals of the Blue and Gold and so do we, which is not guaranteed. We’ve got to face state ranked and pretty good teams on the way to that.”
Ozark, the 2014 Blue Division champions, fell to No. 3 behind Hartville (5-1) in this year’s seeding. Ozark responded to the loss by getting a 67-61 win on the road at Harrison, Arkansas, less than 24 hours after playing Kickapoo.
Ozark (5-2) won the 2015 Republic Invitational and took an 80-53 loss to Kansas Class 6A No. 3-ranked Blue Valley Northwest in Glendale’s Ozark Mountain Shootout.
Hartville enters the tournament the new No. 1 Class 2 team in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association state poll. The 5-1 Eagles have a good nucleus of guards in Grant Dedmon, Dune Piper and Deric Jones, and Newburg move-ins Ryan Ward and Wyatt Ward gave the frontcourt a boost.
Hartville suffered its first loss of the season to Class 4 No. 3 Lafayette Friday at Waynesville’s Route 66 Shootout.
Fair Grove (7-2) holds a No. 4 seed and a game against unseeded Mansfield in the first round. Fair Grove received the No. 4 Class 3 ranking in the latest coaches’ poll.
After an 0-5 start, Hillcrest is unseeded and plays the first game of the tournament against Stockton at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
New head coach Joel Brown recently took his team to Fayetteville, Arkansas
“We lost by two, five and eight, I believe. We had leads in the fourth quarters of all three games,” Brown said. “We can’t hold on to leads right now. It comes with experience and just learning how to finish games.”
Brown believes Hillcrest will have more success with its newly-installed motion offense when the players gain more experience playing in it. For now, Brown says the Hornets are falling back on bad habits from pick-up basketball, which cause mistakes.
“Anytime you first implement (the motion offense), you look like an idiot, and that’s kind of part of it,” Brown said.
The 70th Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament opens Saturday, Dec. 26 with games at JQH Arena and at Hammons Student Center. Teams will be given Sunday off and play their second round games Monday, Dec. 28.
Check back Dec. 23 for a bracket breakdown of the Gold Division.
70th Annual Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament
Dec. 26 opening round
All games at Hammons Student Center
9:30 a.m. (8)Stockton vs. Hillcrest
11 a.m. (1)Kickapoo vs. Willard
12:30 p.m. (5)Republic vs. Skyline
2 p.m. (4)Fair Grove vs. Mansfield
5 p.m. (7)Strafford vs. Spokane
6:30 p.m. (2)Hartville vs. Camdenton
8 p.m. (6)Conway vs. Hollister
9:30 p.m. (3)Ozark vs. Ava
All games at JQH Arena
9:30 a.m. (8)Marshfield vs. Willow Springs
11 a.m. (1)Nixa vs. Rogersville
12:30 p.m. (5)West Plains vs. Buffalo
2 p.m. (4)Mountain Grove vs. Reeds Spring
5 p.m. (7)Aurora vs. Greenwood
6:30 p.m. (2)Bolivar vs. Branson
8 p.m. (6)Crane vs. Lebanon
9:30 p.m. (3)Clever vs. Mt. Vernon