It was early this month that Highland High School girls basketball coach Mike Arbuthnot and his staff started the unenviable task of seeding the 16-team field for the Highland Girls Basketball Invitational Tournament.
It wasn’t easy.
“We take the information sent to us and do the best that we can,” Arbuthnot said. “One of the things we try to do, and we were successful at, is that all of the first round games are with teams who have not played each other this year. I think there will only be one game in the second round where you will have teams who have played. This is a loaded field from top to bottom.”
Delayed 48 hours by the ice storm and hazardous road conditions in the metro-east over the weekend, the Highland Girls Invitational Tournament begins on Monday with eight first round games. Top-seed Highland, ranked third in the Class 3A state poll, will take on Carlyle in the first game of the tournament at 10 a.m.
The Bulldogs (15-3), led by seniors Madison Wellen and Alex LaPorta, won the Mascoutah Holiday Tournament last month, but have not fared well in their own event. Central High School of Breese is the defending champion. The Cougars (10-10) defeated Salem 51-49 in the championship game a year ago.
I wouldn’t guess that Hillsboro or Althoff are real happy about playing each other in the first round, but we did the best we could do. Both teams are having excellent years.
Mike Arbuthnot, Girls basketball coach on seeding the Highland Invitational Tournament
Other first round games include: Althoff vs. Hillsboro at 11:30 a.m.; O’Fallon vs. Salem at 1 p.m.; Mater Dei vs. Taylorville at 2:30 p.m.; Teutopolis vs. Wesclin at 4 p.m.; Okawville vs. Triad at 5:30 p.m.; Belleville West vs. Nokomis at 7 p.m.; and Nashville vs. Central at 8:30 p.m.
The best first round game of the day on Monday could pit Hillsboro, which is ranked seventh in the Class 2A state poll, against an Althoff team (15-7) which has won nine of its last 11 games. The winner will most likely get to play Highland in the first quarterfinal game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
While Highland is the team to beat in the upper half of the bracket, Teutopolis, which is ranked third in the Class 2A poll, has a shot of reaching the finals. The Wooden Shoes could face Okawville, ranked fourth in the Class 1A poll, in the quarterfinals Wednesday.
“I wouldn’t guess that Hillsboro or Althoff are real happy about playing each other in the first round, but we did the best we could do. Both teams are having excellent years,” Arbuthnot said. “T-Town is having a great season, as is Okawville. Mater Dei got to the final at Mascoutah; O’Fallon has a good team. Nashville is good, and I know that Belleville West, when healthy, is as good as anybody. Like I said, its another great field.”
Because of the delay, games will be played each day this week, Monday through Saturday, at Highland High School. The title game is set for Saturday, Jan. 21 at 2:30 p.m.
Great Rivers Shootout
The icy road conditions have resulted in the Great Rivers Girls Shootout in Alton to be rescheduled for Monday at Alton High School.
The Collinsville Kahoks open the tournament at 10 a.m. against Hazelwood (Mo.) Central. That game will be followed by Alton-Francis Howell at 11:30 a.m. Jerseyville plays Festus (Mo.) at 1 p.m. Defending Class 1A state champion Hardin-Calhoun plays St. Joseph’s Academy (Mo.) at 2:30 p.m. Belleville East will play nationally-known Incarnate Word (Mo.) at 4 p.m.
Parkway (Mo.) North plays Arlington (Tenn.) at 5:30 p.m., and Civic Memorial plays Washington (Mo.) at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $5 and are good for all seven games.