The 37th annual William Jewell Holiday Classic high school basketball tournament will tip off Tuesday and conclude with championship games on Dec. 30 at the Mabee Center in Liberty.
As always, the tournament is separated into three brackets. Here’s a breakdown of each. (And scroll to the bottom for a look at the brackets.)
Top-seeded Park Hill has an athletic roster, and it’s translated to a 7-0 start on the season. As one of only three remaining unbeaten teams in the Suburban Conferences (along with Lee’s Summit West and Liberty), the Trojans are ranked No. 9 in the latest Missouri Class 5 coaches poll. They notched their biggest victory yet Wednesday, when they defeated rival Park Hill South 61-56. Ronnie Bell scored 22 points in the win, including a trio of three-pointers, and Dru Smith scored 18.
But the Trojans’ route to a title at William Jewell won’t be easy one. The bracket also includes Class 5 programs Raytown, Blue Springs South and Liberty North. Those top four seeds in the division have combined for a 19-5 record this winter.
In the opening month of the season, Lee’s Summit West looks every bit the team to beat in Kansas City that many thought it would be. The Titans, 5-0, have an embarrassment of riches on the offensive end of the court, with Elijah Childs, Mario Goodrich, Phillip Brooks and Christian Bishop among them. And they each bring a different skill-set to the equation.
That alone might be enough intrigue to follow the Nelson Division, but there’s also this: The bracket is set up for a potential championship matchup between Park Hill South and Lee’s Summit West.
Park Hill South, 6-2, returned four starters this season. Sophomore guard Lamel Robinson, a Division I prospect, scored 25 points in a losing effort Wednesday.
Seeded No. 1 in the bracket, Liberty has already displayed a knack for winning close games. The Blue Jays, 7-0, have won five games by single digits.
Liberty is paced by guard Jalen Lewis, who tied a school record last week with eight three-pointers in a four-point victory against Grandview. He finished with 34 points.
A rematch of that evening is a possibility, with Grandview seeded No. 2 in the division. The Bulldogs have one of the city’s top talents in junior Jordan Lathon, a 6-4 guard who has a dozen Division-I offers. Lathon drilled a step-back three-pointer from the wing to beat Liberty North on Tuesday.
The Cardinal Division will also be a test of endurance. It’s the only bracket that waits until Wednesday to commence, forcing teams to play three consecutive days.
WILLIAM JEWELL HOLIDAY CLASSIC
First-round games next week in Liberty:
Blue Springs South vs. Fort Osage, 4:30 p.m.
Raytown vs. Winnetonka, 6 p.m.
Liberty North vs. Center, 7:30 p.m.
Park Hill vs. East, 9 p.m.
Rockhurst vs. Oak Park, 9 a.m.
Lee’s Summit West vs. Smithville, 10:30 a.m.
Park Hill South vs. Lincoln Prep, noon
Blue Springs vs. Kearney, 1:30 p.m.
Grandview vs. Truman, 4:30 p.m.
St. Joseph Central vs. Raymore-Peculiar, 6 p.m.
Liberty vs. William Chrisman, 7:30 p.m.
North Kansas City vs. Lee’s Summit, 9 p.m.