The MSHSAA Boys and Girls Show-Me Showdown for Classes 4 and 5 will get underway Friday morning. Here’s a preview of the boys matchups:
CLASS 5 BOYS
ROCKHURST (22-7) VS. POPLAR BLUFF (25-4)
When you think of Rockhurst and the playoffs, your mind normally thinks of football, but the hoops team has a little tradition, too. They’re making their eighth trip to the Final 4, but just their first since 2001. In the previous seven tries, the Hawklets won the state title three times—that came in 1989 when they topped St. Louis Vashon. Interestingly enough, none of their players average over 9.9 points per game. They score just under 60 points per contest.
The defending state champs in Class 5 boast the most celebrated player in Missouri—Tyler Hansbrough. The North Carolina Tarheel-to-be has scorched opponents for 27.4 poitns and 13.2 rebounds per contest. If it weren’t for him, his little brother might be getting all the attention. Ben Hansbrough, who is a junior puts in 16.9 points per game and grabs 5.3 boards. Poplar Bluff is making it’s third straight trip to the Show-Me Showdown.
KICKAPOO (28-1) VS. VASHON (28-0)
Kickapoo returns to the Show-Me Showdown after missing it last year. The Chiefs’ 2003 squad was one of the best in the nation and featured four players who signed with NCAA Division I schools. The leader of that team was Spencer Laurie, who is now at Mizzou. The leader now is his younger brother Shane, who scores 20.1 per contest. Junior guard Kyle Kirk is second on the team in scoring with 16.5 points per game. The Chiefs are in search of their second state championship.
No team has dominated the state basketball playoffs like Vashon High School. No one. The Wolverines have won 10 state championships and made it to the semifinals a total of 20 times. They’re 71-19 in playoff games. It seems that head coach Floyd Irons may have the most dominating group of players he’s ever had. Vashon is in the middle of a 59-game winning streak and they’re ranked #1 in the nation by USA Today. The 2004-2005 squad is as balanced as any team—all five starters average between 13.3 and 8.6 points per contest. The were the Class 4 champs last season, going 31-0.
CLASS 4 BOYS
NOTRE DAME (14-16) VS. O’HARA (25-5)
Notre Dame High School of Cape Girardeau is playing the Cinderella role of the Class 4 playoffs. They find themselves just two wins away from two amazing goals—a state championship and a .500 record. Notre Dame is 14-16 and advanced with a 60-50 win over Salem in the quarterfinals last Saturday. It marked head coach Paul Hale’s 500th career win. Notre Dame is in the Final 4 for the first time since they won back-to-back titles in 1986 and 1987.
O’Hara is making their first trip to the semifinals and just their fourth trip to the playoffs. The Celtics are 25-5 coming into the game and will be relying on the hot hand of senior guard Marcus Walker, who is one of the best scorers in Missouri with 30 points per game. Walker will play college ball at the University of Nebraska. Fellow senior Brandon Tolliver is the only other member of the O’Hara roster to average more than six points per game. The 6-7 senior puts in 14.3 per contest.
WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (22-5) VS. WILLARD (28-2)
Westminster Christian Academy of St. Louis is making the most of their first trip to the MSHSAA playoffs. They are 25-5 and have won twelve of their last 13 games. Offensively, the Wildcats employ a balanced attack. Senior forward Andy Wiele averages 15.5 points per game and senior guard Banks Estridge pitches in 9.6 per contest. Jeff Ehrhardt, Josh Worrell and Andrew Miller all average between 71.-7.8 points per game.
Willard High School comes into the semifinals with lots of weapons and a 28-2 record. The Tigers are led by senior forward Jonathon Huskisson who leads the team with 17.3 points and 10 rebounds per game. Senior Chris Forrest averages 11 points per game, Junior Steven Propst adds 12.2 points per contest and sophomore Alex Anderson chips in 11.9 points every time out. The fifth starter, senior Michael Hawkins only scores 5.8 points per game, but is second on the team in rebounding with 5.1 per game. Willard will try for its first state title in its 12th trip to the playoffs.