For years, Lee’s Summit boys basketball coach Blake Little said, the Culver’s Classic used to be the jumping off point for the start of the Suburban Gold Conference grind.
The Suburban Gold went from a six-team to a seven-team conference two years ago, which meant two more league games and an earlier start to league play.
“We’ve already played three conference games,” Little said. “We’ve approached the start of the season differently because of that.”
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While the Culver’s Classic may no longer be the bright dividing line on Lee’s Summit’s schedule, it remains an important three nights for the host Tigers.
The 43rd edition tips off with four games Monday night at Lee’s Summit’s Fieldhouse.
Hogan Prep (9-2) kicks off the action against Kansas City East (1-9) in the first game at 4 p.m., followed by Lee’s Summit North (5-5) versus Raytown (7-4) at 5:30 p.m.
Lee’s Summit (8-4) opens its run in the Classic at 7 p.m. against Ruskin (4-10), and the first day ends with Raytown South (9-3) going up against Lincoln Prep at 8:30 p.m.
If Lee’s Summit wins Monday, it could face a Raytown South team ranked No. 10 in Class 4 in the latest Missouri Basketball Coaches Association poll in the semifinals.
If North can get past a rugged Raytown team, it could face one of the area’s top Class 3 squads in Hogan Prep.
“Ray-South’s obviously got a very good team this year; Raytown and Hogan are outstanding,” Little said. “And when you look at us and North, that’s five pretty quality teams. It’s a good field.”
Semifinals and consolation games will be held Jan. 17. The final is set for 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 19.
Titans not defending
Lee’s Summit West won last year’s Culver’s Classic and three of the last five tournaments, but the Titans won’t be defending their title.
Instead, West will take part in the C.W. Stessman Tournament next week in Liberty.
West (8-1) meets St. Joseph Central 4 p.m. on Jan. 16 in the first round. A win there could set up a rematch with Rockhurst, which handed the Titans their first loss of the season with a 70-62 victory Jan. 9 at Rockhurst.
Best of the Midwest
West also will be in the marquee matchup in Saturday’s 810 Varsity Best of the Midwest Showcase at Lee’s Summit. West will take on St. Louis powerhouse Christian Brothers College at 8:30 p.m.
CBC features 6-foot-10 Davion Bradford, the top Missouri sophomore recruit and ESPN’s No. 25 recruit in the Class of 2020, and sophomore guard Caleb Love, who is being recruited by Missouri and five other NCAA Division I schools.
Other games scheduled include the Lee’s Summit girls vs. St. Teresa’s Academy at 1:30 p.m., Lee’s Summit West girls vs. Blue Valley at 3 p.m., and Lee’s Summit North boys vs. Blue Valley at 5:30 p.m.