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What to know about the Springfield area's early-season high school basketball tournaments

The first big week of high school basketball in the area is here with several great early-season tournaments taking place across the region.

A few got going on Monday and Tuesday while others will begin on Wednesday or Thursday. Here's what you should know about each of the bigger events. The listed schedules are for winner's brackets. If you want the full brackets with consolation games, visit this story on News-Leader.com.

Arvest Classic

This year's event will take place at Kickapoo High School due to damage to Parkview's court.

The Arvest Classic will give us a look at two of the city's best going up against some of the top teams in the state.

De Smet and Helias Catholic both return after finishing first and second in the event a year ago. Kickapoo made a run to the Class 6 state championship.

Seeing how Kickapoo and Parkview play against some of the best teams in the state should give us a good idea of what to expect early in the year. The Chiefs return just one starter from a year ago and should get better as the year goes on. Parkview should be a little ahead to start the year with a talented team returning.

More: All of our 2023-24 Missouri State, high school basketball preseason coverage in one place

Lee's Summit West finished last season as the No. 5 team in Class 6 while De Smet ranked No. 9 in Class 5.

Thursday

  • 4 p.m. - Rogers-Heritage vs. De Smet

  • 5:30 p.m. - Kickapoo vs. Helias Catholic

  • 7 p.m. - Parkview vs. Raytown

  • 8:30 p.m. - Lee's Summit West vs. Lafayette

Friday

  • 7 p.m. - Semifinals

  • 8:30 p.m. - Semifinals

Saturday

  • 4 p.m. - Championship

Willard Basketball Classic — Boys

This year's Willard Basketball Classic on the boys' side will give us a good opportunity to learn about some of the best teams in the area that lost quite a bit from their rosters from last season.

Nixa, which had an undefeated regular season, will have a new look following the departure of News-Leader Player of the Year Kael Combs. We'll first see Nixa take on Bolivar which saw its star player from the previous four seasons graduate and head to Northern Iowa.

We'll also get to see how far along Glendale is and if it will be ready to challenge some of the best in the area. Amare Witham will lead the Falcons in his sophomore year and we'll see how much the talent around him develops as the year goes on when Glendale will be in the spotlight plenty with a Blue and Gold appearance and being one of the area's featured teams at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.

Wednesday

  • 5:30 p.m. - Nixa vs. Bolivar

  • 8:30 p.m. - Willard vs. Smith-Cotton

Thursday

  • 5:30 p.m. - Glendale vs. Harrison

  • 8:30 p.m. - Belton vs. Betonville

Friday

  • 7 p.m. - Semifinal (Willard/Smith-Cotton vs. Belton/Bentonville)

  • 8:30 p.m. - Semifinal (Nixa/Bolivar vs. Glendale/Harrison)

Saturday

  • 7:30 p.m. - Championship

Republic Boys Invitational

As far as local interest goes, there won't be a tournament in the area that teaches us more than the Republic Boys Invitational. There are four local teams in four different games to open the tournament and each will be challenged.

Ozark returns a lot from a year ago with Hudson Roberts, Jace Whatley and Cohen George being among the standouts with Kylan Pickren expected to take off this year.

Hillcrest was a Class 5 state quarterfinalist last year and saw its best player graduate. Getting an early glimpse at the Hornets against a Springdale (Arkansas) team that finished as a state runner-up last year and features a Power 5 prospect in Isaiah Sealy will give us plenty to think about after night one.

More: The Springfield area's boys high school basketball state contenders entering 2023-24

Republic, which might have its best team in several years, will also get an immediate challenge with Rogers (Arkansas) being its first-round opponent. The Tigers, led by Brenley Hagewood, will go up against a team that features the Class of 2026's No. 28 player 6-foot-6 shooting guard Aidan Chronister. Rogers has three starters returning from one of the better teams in Arkansas last season.

Rolla, led by sophomore star Ethan Brown, will go up against Liberty which returns seven of nine starters from a year ago.

It probably doesn't get better than this tournament to start the year.

Wednesday

  • 4 p.m. - Park Hill South vs. Ozark

  • 5:30 p.m. - Hillcrest vs. Springdale

  • 7 p.m. - Republic vs. Rogers

  • 8:30 p.m. - Rolla vs. Liberty

Thursday

  • 7 p.m. - Semifinal

  • 8:30 p.m. - Semifinal

Saturday

  • 3:30 p.m. - Championship

Fair Grove Girls' Basketball Tournament

An all-local girls' basketball tournament to start the year will give us good early expectations for a few of the best programs — some we would consider state championship contenders.

Fair Grove and West Plains are the main attractions while Logan-Rogersville has young talent that could turn it into one of the area's best as early as this year.

This tournament will give us a good idea of what we should expect from a few of these teams come Pink and White time.

More: The Springfield area's girls high school basketball state contenders entering 2023-24

Monday

  • Fair Grove vs. Ava

  • Clever vs. Catholic

  • West Plains vs. Mount Vernon

  • Logan-Rogersville vs. Lebanon

Thursday

  • 7 p.m. - Semifinal

  • 8:30 p.m. - Semifinal

Saturday

  • 8:30 p.m. - Championship

Willard Basketball Classic — Girls

Eyes will be on Republic and Kickapoo to start the season. The Lady Tigers will have to figure out their new way of playing without one of the best to lace them up in the orange and white. Kickapoo has a lot of returning talent but won't have Jim Pendergrass on the sideline for the first time in a while.

How Strafford plays will also be something to watch. Strafford opens its tournament with a matchup against defending Class 6 state runner-up Rock Bridge. There are always high expectations for both programs which have been among the top teams over the last decade.

Wednesday

  • 4 p.m. - Republic vs. Blue Springs

  • 7 p.m. - Willard vs. Kickapoo

Thursday

  • 4 p.m. - Broken Arrow vs. Harrison

  • 7 p.m. - Strafford vs. Rock Bridge

Friday

  • 5:30 p.m. - Semifinals

  • 4 p.m. - Semifinals

Saturday

  • 6 p.m. - Championship

Blue Eye Girls' Basketball Tournament

Can Glendale grab an early-season tournament championship? The Lady Falcons look to continue to build off the momentum they gained last season as the No. 1 seed in the Blue Eye Tournament. Second-seed Blue Eye appears to be its biggest challenger after going 20-8 last season.

Monday

  • Glendale vs. Mansfield

  • Berryville vs. Reeds Spring

Tuesday

  • 6 p.m. - Blue Eye vs. Spokane

  • 7:30 p.m. - Sparta vs. Forsyth

Thursday

  • 7 p.m. - Semifinal

  • 8:30 p.m. - Semifinal

Friday

  • 8 p.m. - Championship

Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at wwheeler@news-leader.com or X at @WyattWheeler_NL. He's also the host of the weekly "Wyatt's World Podcast" on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other podcasting platforms

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Springfield area early high school basketball tournaments previews