Believe it or not, the Jefferson City Jays almost joined them.
But almost doesn't count.
The Jays got belted in a 20-point hole in the first half Thursday night by the St. Francis DeSales (Ohio) Stallions during the first round of the Joe Machens Great 8 Classic at Fleming Fieldhouse.
But lo and behold, the Jays made a valiant run and cut the lead to four --- and had the ball --- with two minutes left. But that turned out to be an empty possession, and the Stallions closed out a 68-59 win.
Meanwhile, Helias was scheduled to play Little Rock Central (Ark.) in its opener. But the Little Rock area was buried by more than a foot of snow and the team couldn't make the trip.
Enter the JV Jays, who promptly made the expected quick exit --- Helias rolled to a 73-32 win.
In the other boys games, Louisville Male (Ky.) held off Rock Bridge 58-57, and Memphis Lausanne (Tenn.) topped Mexico 65-48. Those results set up an interesting father-son coaching matchup, as dad Jim Scanlon (Rock Bridge) will meet son Brennan (Mexico) in a loser's bracket game at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
In girls action, Helias defeated Louisville Male 49-43, Quincy (Ill.) stormed past the Jefferson City Lady Jays 67-54, St. Joseph Benton shut down Mexico 52-34, and Eureka topped Lee's Summit West 58-43.
This was not the ideal situation for the Crusaders, beating up on a JV team, but they made the most of it.
Helias led 33-20 at the half, before outscoring the JV Jays 40-12 after the break to win by 41.
"It was tough," Helias coach Josh Buffington said. "We'd prepared for Little Rock Central, a school that's won a bunch of state championships, and we were excited about the chance.
"But I thought we got back to the fundamentals in the second half ... we stepped it up a couple notches, especially defensively."
Hale Hentges led the winners with 22 points, all coming in the first three quarters as he sat out the fourth. Chase Bexten had 10 for Helias, which had 11 players score.
Jeremiah Streeter paced the JV Jays with 10 points.
So, if the varsity Jays had won, we would have had a Jefferson City-Helias clash in the semifinals. But nothing doing, as the 41-21 halftime deficit was too much to overcome.
"We weren't even close to being ready to play, mentally," Jays coach Blair Thompson said. "We were flat and obviously dug ourselves a giant hole.
"We were getting kicked around in every phase of the game."
The Jays (5-5) --- who were seeking their first holiday tournament title since 2005 --- made a game of it. They outscored the Stallions (4-3) 24-11 in the third to get within 52-45, and were within 58-54 after Ogugua Anunoby canned a 3-pointer and later hit two free throws with 2:46 left.
That's where the rally ended --- and the comeback did little to impress Thompson.
"We found a small, spark of energy for about eight minutes, and that gave us a chance," he said. "But eight minutes out of 32, well, you'll get the result we had tonight.
"It's very disappointing."
Taz Collins knocked down 21 points and Oliver Grimard had 18 for the Stallions. For the Jays, Harold Robertson netted 20 points, Scott Stegeman had 18 and Anunoby had 12.
This loss was a double-whammy for the Jays --- they won't play their next game, as the JV Jays will forfeit, for obvious reasons; and there's won't be a crosstown clash, which would have meant a raucous, full house.
"This hurts in a lot of ways," Thompson said.
So with a day off, what will the Jays do?
"Practice," Thompson said. "We need it."
Louisville Male 58, Rock Bridge 57
"I hope one of us wins and one of us loses," Jim Scanlon said prior to the tournament, hoping to avoid a family feud.
Well, Scanlon may have gotten what he wanted for Christmas, but he didn't get this wish. So everyone except the Scanlon family will get the game they wanted to see --- even if it's in the loser's bracket.
The Bruins (2-5) fell into a 38-26 hole after three quarters and, despite a 31-point fourth, they fell short to the Bulldogs (8-3).
"We played well for three quarters, but we didn't finish the game as well as we'd like," Bulldogs coach Larry Miller said. "But (Rock Bridge) has a quality team with a lot of tradition, so we're happy to come away with the win."
Josh Stoner tallied 15 points for the winners, Steve Julian scored 14, Jalen Brasher had 13 and D.J. Lambert chipped in 10.
Memphis Lausanne 65, Mexico 48
The Lynx (8-3) used a late 12-0 run to put away the Bulldogs (8-1, ranked third in Class 4).
Lausanne led 20-11 after one quarter, 36-25 at the break and 49-40 after three, before salting away the win. Five players accounted for 63 of the 65 points for the winners, led by the 19-point effort of Denio Chirindja. Sedale Scullark added 14, while Quentin Sawyer, Murray State-signee Cameron Payne, and James Babb had 10 apiece.
For the Bulldogs, Jake Willer scored 14 and Jake Anderson had 13.
It's time to play the Family Feud.
STATE FARM INVITATIONAL
Helias 49, Louisville Male 43
The Lady Crusaders were playing the Male Lady Bulldogs.
No wonder kids are confused these days.
Helias scored the first nine points of Thursday night's first-round game of the State Farm Invitational at Rackers Fieldhouse and never trailed. But it wasn't easy.
"We were lucky we got the big start, because we knew they were going to come back on us," Helias coach Doug Light said. "They had a lot of fight in them."
The Lady Crusaders (6-2) led the Lady Bulldogs (6-5) 11-3 after the first quarter and 20-18 at the break. The Lady Bulldogs battled back to tie it twice, at 20-20 and 27-27, in the third quarter.
But a driving scored by Meghan Nappier with 3:29 left in the third gave Helias the lead for good, at 29-27, and started a 13-2 burst that stretched deep into fourth.
"At halftime, we were getting killed on the boards and they were getting all the loose balls," Light said. "I thought in the second half, we righted that and we started getting most of the 50-50 balls.
"We turned the aggression around and met their aggression, that was the big key. I thought that really changed things for us."
Bre Zanders scored 13 points and Nappier had 11 for Helias.
"We'll take the win," Light said, "because we wanted to go that way in the bracket. That's the key, survive and advance."
Quincy (Ill.) 67, Jefferson City 54
The Lady Jays led 32-30 at the half and scored the first four points of the second half to take a six-point lead.
Things were going right ... but then everything went wrong
The Lady Devils (7-4) belted the Lady Jays (2-8) with an 18-2 run to end the third quarter to take a 48-38 lead, and led by as many as 21 points in the fourth to win going away.
"I think their pressure had a cumulative effect and caught up with us in the third quarter," Jefferson City coach Shane Meyer said. "We just couldn't score the basketball."
The Lady Jays were plagued by frigid shooting and a rash of turnovers, including 11 in the first quarter.
"I think our turnovers caught up with us," Meyer said. "And when we didn't turn it over, we couldn't get anything going on the offensive end.
"I can't imagine what our shooting percentage was, but I know it wasn't very good."
Freshman Megan Foster sizzled the twines for 21 points for the Lady Jays, including 12 in the first quarter. Devon Stegeman chipped in 11 points and Kezia Martin scored 10.
For the Lady Devils, Arai'ya Dude led a balanced attack with 19 points, Hannah Reller scored 12, and Angel Bradford and Jordan Fletcher had 10 apiece.
With games to play the next two days, you have to wonder how much the Lady Jays will have left in the tank after this high-possession, high-energy affair. Especially since they've been dropped into the loser's bracket.
"We'll be fine," Meyer said. "We've got a bunch of young kids who don't know what tired is.
"We're 2-8, we don't have time to be tired."
St. Joseph Benton 52, Mexico 34
The Lady Cardinals finished with a bang, outscoring the Lady Bulldogs 13-2 in the fourth quarter to pull away for the 18-point win.
Benton (5-1) enjoyed a nine-point lead during the first half, only to see Mexico (4-4) get within 21-18 at the break.
"We came out and had a pretty good start," Benton coach Brett Goodwin said, "but then we stopped doing the things that were working for us and got a little complacent.
"But we did enough down the stretch to keep them at arm's distance."
Mallory McAndrews tallied 14 points for the Lady Cardinals, who led 39-32 entering the fourth. Andee Wahlert added 12 points, while Brooke Costley paced the Lady Bulldogs with 13.
Eureka 58, Lee's Summit West 43
The Lady Wildcats used a combined scoring edge of 33-15 in the second and fourth quarters to beat the Lady Titans.
Eureka (6-2) held just a 15-13 lead after one quarter, before stretching the margin to 30-17 at the break. Lee's Summit West (1-5) closed within 40-32 after three quarters.
Lindsey McCoy led the Lady Wildcats with 19 points, while Taylor Jackson had 18 for the Lady Titans.
One day down, two to go. What can we expect next?
Here are Friday's tournament schedules:
JOE MACHENS GREAT 8 CLASSIC
At Fleming Fieldhouse
Winner's Bracket Semifinals7 p.m. --- Helias vs. St. Francis DeSales
8:30 p.m --- Louisville Male vs. Memphis Lausanne
Loser's Bracket Semifinals(Varsity Jays win by forfeit)
5:30 p.m. --- Rock Bridge vs. Mexico
STATE FARM INVITATIONAL
At Rackers Fieldhouse
Winner's Bracket Semifinals5:30 p.m. --- St. Joseph Benton vs. Helias7 p.m --- Quincy (Ill.) vs. Eureka
Loser's Bracket Semifinals2:30 p.m. --- Mexico vs. Louisville Male
4 p.m. --- Jefferson City vs. Lee's Summit West