Chieftains open tournament play today
Boys to face Jeff West, girls draw Eudora
Local basketball enthusiasts hardly will be starved for entertainment this week, as one of the state’s longest running tournaments has returned to the Tonganoxie High gymnasium.
The Tonganoxie Invitational, now in its 55th year, officially got under way Monday afternoon. Thirteen teams have made their way to town for the annual event, which runs through Saturday.
“During our tournament, the community really rolls out the red carpet for everybody,” boys coach Shawn Phillips said. “It’s not just the school that gets involved. We try to make it a good, positive experience, and you’re not going to find a better tournament in terms of how people are treated.”
The boys tournament has been slightly altered from its traditional format because there are only seven teams in this year’s field. Teams have been broken into two pools. Tonganoxie, Jeff West and Eudora are in the red pool, while Holton, De Soto, Atchison and Blue Valley Southwest are in the white pool.
THS, which entered the tournament with back-to-back wins, including a 66-58 victory against Turner on Friday, opens tournament play at 7:30 p.m. against a Jeff West team coached by Chieftain baseball coach Mitch Loomis. JWHS dropped its opener against Eudora on Monday, 73-60.
“Playing in tournaments, you’ve got to get after it right from the beginning,” Phillips said. “We know we’ve got our hands full. Hopefully, you can build a little good momentum by taking care of business, then you can take care of the second one.”
The Chieftains will close out pool play against the Cardinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
There will be a new boys champion this year, as 2013 champ Lansing is no longer in the tournament field. THS will try to build on its fourth-place finish at last year’s tournament. Jeff West is a new addition to the 2014 field, replacing Bishop Seabury.
First-, second- and third-place finishers from each pool will play each other Saturday to determine overall team standings. There will be no seventh-place game. The championship game, tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m., will close out tournament action.
The girls tournament, now in its 11th year, is being conducted in the traditional, eight-team bracket format. THS, coming off a 53-15 drubbing of Turner, opens at 6 p.m. against Eudora and will play again Thursday against Silver Lake or Atchison. With a win Tuesday, the Chieftains will advanced to Thursday’s championship semifinals, set for 7:30 p.m. With a loss Tuesday, they'll move to the consolation semis, set for 6 p.m.
"Last week was a pretty good week for us, so hopefully we can come in with some momentum," girls coach Randy Kraft said.
Other teams in the girls field are Lansing, De Soto, Chanute and Jeff West. Chanute, which defeated Tonganoxie — a fourth-place finisher — on a buzzer-beater in last year’s semifinals, returns as the reigning champion. Like in the boys tournament, newcomer Jeff West replaces Seabury.
The finals will take place Saturday, starting with the seventh-place game at 9 a.m. and ending with the championship game at about 4:30 p.m.
A recap of Monday's action is available here. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for additional updates throughout the week. Use the hashtag #TongieInvite to join the conversation on Twitter.