By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Pink & White Lady Classic is loaded this year on both sides. Find out the things to watch for in the Pink Bracket below. Click play above for a video preview of the tournament.
Skyline looking for title No. 2
The Lady Tigers have won 10 of their last 12 in the current format of the Pink and White Lady Classic, being one of the few local teams to win the event in recent years. However, Skyline has come up short in each of the last two events. This year’s group almost seems to be flying under the radar but they’re 8-0 with a winning streak that is approaching 30 games. The scary part is they’re still really good defensively, but this group is also more efficient offensively that most recent Skyline teams. Pitt State signee Kaylee DaMitz (14.9 points, four assists) is shooting 39 percent from 3. Junior Autumn Garrett (14 points) is shooting 56 percent from the field and Chloe Cole (12.3 points) is shooting 38 percent from deep. The 3-point specialist has more 3-point makes than 2-point attempts. Savannah Owen seems like she’s been in high school for a decade, but she’s again back as the team’s undersize post. This is a typical Kevin Cheek team and they’re going to throw haymakers at whoever they lineup with.
Any Seed Could Win
Nixa has been extremely impressive so far this year. They went to Florida and bounced back from that Kickapoo loss with three straight wins and a trip to Disney World. Getting 6-foot-2 forward Bissett Michaelson (12.4 points, 5.5 rebounds) healthy after last year has been huge. Kelsey Biro (10.2 points) and Emily Edwards (10.2 points) are also capable scorers. Nixa has been able to turn people over and win the rebounding battle, which will be enough to keep them in every game.
Camdenton as a 4-seed should be scary to that half of the bracket. The Lady Lakers own wins over Helias, Ozark and Webb City and the lone losses came to Arkansas power Fort Smith Northside and Osage. Coley Rezabek will be one of the best players on the floor every game and Camdenton fills roles perfectly around her.
Fair Grove is a 5-seed and had the seeding happened a day later they’re likely on the 3-line. The Lady Eagles have one loss, which came to Class 4 Webb City, but Fair Grove still owns resume wins over Mount Vernon, Clever and Rogersville. Jenny Talbert has one of the best frontcourts in the area with junior Alana Findley (25.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists) and Harley Maxwell (14.1 points, 7.5 rebounds). It’s tough for me to see Jonesboro beating the Fair Grove/Camdenton winner.
Ozark is still battling some inexperience, but the only way that changes is to play games. The Lady Tigers’ three losses have come to Camdenton, Fayetteville (Ark.) and Walnut Grove. Having a great guard in Madi Braden and a paint presence like Macey Putt is huge. This is another tough out.
Rogersville and Republic are in the same boat as 7/8 seeds. On one hand they’ve lost games, so I can see why they’re seeded where they are. However, on the other hand if they didn’t have such front-loaded schedules they’d like be higher seeds. That, blended with great coaching makes them tough. The Lady Cats’ four losses (Fair Grove, Willard, West Plains, Strafford) all came by 10 points or fewer. Because of how good they are defensively and the potentially explosive combination of Jordyn Gault and Maci McHenry, this will be a tough matchup, especially in the quarterfinals against Skyline. Republic has more losses than any other seeded team in the Pink and White or Blue and Gold but don’t be shocked to see them in the semifinals.
Mid-Lakes vs. All
Should Skyline and Fair Grove make it through to the championship, it’ll be the first of likely three meetings between the two programs. Both open with an Ozark Conference opponent and will see a favorite in the COC or OC in order to even reach the semifinals. This is the ultimate braggin’ rights time for the Mid-Lakes as a whole. The argument about size is always made and it’s clear that Strafford is the best team in the Ozarks right now. But the gap between them and Skyline/Fair Grove seems to be shrinking. What an opportunity for the Mid-Lakes to maybe walk away with both the Pink and White championship and show some more small-school dominance.
Christian County Throwdown Preview?
Everyone loves a good Nixa-Ozark matchup and we could get treated with a preview of the Ozarks best rivalry. Jennifer Perryman is certainly okay with that. Nixa has won five of the last six meetings, but Ozark took last season’s tilt. Should it happen, this would be the most compelling game of the day.
Courtney Austin, Buffalo
The junior guard is averaging 22.6 points, including a season-high 38 points against Eldon. She even scored 23 against a really sound defensive team in West Plains. She’s shooting 53 percent from the field. Austin enters the tournament just 66 points away from 1,000 for her career. The way she scores it may only take her two games to get there.
Makaiya Brooks, Central
The Lady Bulldogs continue to right the ship under Caitlin Russell and Brooks has the future of Central Basketball looking extremely bright. She’s averaging 21.5 points and can score at all three levels. She’s scored 20 or more in five of eight games, which includes Pink and White Lady Classic seeded teams Branson and Willard.