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Column: Basketball season is here!Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2012, at 4:07 AM
I always hear it before I see it.
The short squeaks of shuffling shoes, the sharp whistles, long buzzers and intermittent bouncing -- it must be basketball season.
For me the high school basketball season starts at the Woodland Tournament. It always has.
I walked in the Woodland gym Monday night the same as I did back in junior high, back when the Bloomfield cheerleaders were wearing ridiculously oversized bows on ridiculously high ponytails (before wearing ridiculously oversized bows on ridiculously high ponytails was cool).
At least that's how I remember it. It's amazing how much I forget, like who won the tournament during the years I was the one cheering on the sidelines (sans bow, we stuck with ribbons) and occasionally badgering an occasional player or referee. Allegedly.
There wasn't much excitement on the court Monday as all of the top seeds advanced, but I still felt giddy all night.
Basketball doesn't top my list of favorite sports. Actually, it's not even in the top three, but there is something undeniably special about basketball season in Southeast Missouri.
It's the tradition of state champions and the history of great players that help make it the most popular sport in the region.
Plus it's the only sport for which each school fields at least one team (unfortunately the girls get left out sometimes), so no community is left out of the excitement.
There also is something special about the season-opening tournaments that have become part of the tradition of SEMO basketball.
Maybe it's the Oran tournament for you, or the Riverbend Classic, or the Campbell tournament or even next week's SEMO Conference Tournament. Maybe it's another tournament or showcase.
My guess is that you get a similar feeling when you walk into the gym for the first time each basketball season, wherever it may be.
There's curiosity about which players will stand out this season. There's interest in which teams will make a run at a state title. There are questions about how new coaches will impact their teams, and so many other things.
But then there's also that person you haven't seen in too long that you're happy you have the chance to catch up with.
Monday night that person was Mr. Thoma, my high school math teacher. We talked about life and basketball while Scott City and Meadow Heights played, and all was right with the world.
Basketball season is long. Really long. We can save trying to answer the questions about teams and players for a little later, like maybe for February when I'm questioning if the season will ever end and storing up energy to survive another year of covering the playoffs.
At minimum, it's probably best to wait until some championships are decided Friday night.
My guess is I'll be back at Woodland, which has hosted its tournament since 1968.
It's where I go this time of year. It's how I know basketball season is here.
Is there a tournament or showcase that signals the start of basketball season for you? What is it? What's your favorite thing about going each year?
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Rachel Crader is the editor of semoball.com. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in May of 2009 before spending the summer covering the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
Highlights from Rachel's days in college include having a class down the hall from Chase Daniel and having NCAA wrestling champion Ben Askren hold the door open for her at Brady Commons, Mizzou's student center. She spent time covering Mizzou basketball, softball and baseball while working for the Columbia Missourian and is excited to return home to Southeast Missouri to cover local sports for semoball.com.
Rachel has covered three Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournaments for the Southeast Missourian and semoball.com, and she'll see you courtside again this year.
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