Play ball

Rock Bridge head coach, Jim Scanlon, talks to his team during a timeout

We've learned, or had re-affirmed, several things in the last few days.

We've learned Mayan scientists were dumb, and growing dumber with each passing day. Just a bit outside, Mayan Einsteins.

But the dumbest folks of all are the ones who believed this end-of-the-world nonsense and made the appropriate preparations. In other words, Spam for life.

Call this Dumb and Dumber and Dumbest. Have they made this movie yet?

Also, it was re-affirmed that this really is the most wonderful time of the year. The warmth, the smiles, the hugs, the family, the friends, the eggnog, the fruit cake, the indigestion, the directions that come with your kid's 974-piece playset, the bills, the hangovers.

We wouldn't trade it for anything.

But at some point, we all need to get out of the house and perhaps get a break from family and friends. Well, the next few days will you offer the perfect opportunity --- the Joe Machens Great 8 Classic (boys) and the State Farm Invitational (girls) basketball tournaments.

These are two more holiday treats.

"It's a great event with great competition and great coaches," Helias coach Josh Buffington said. "If you want to get out of the house over the holidays, you should come to these tournaments, because you're going to see a lot of good things."

Before we go any further, a couple things about these events --- which actually started with last Saturday's six-game National Guard Shootout at Fleming Fieldhouse.

First, they don't happen by accident. There's a committee that works on this nearly year-round, gathering teams and great sponsors. Fans get to see some good basketball at a silly-low price and the players are treated very, very well during their three-day, two-night stay.

It's a first-class operation and Jefferson City should be proud.

"It's a marquee event, not only in Missouri, but in the Midwest, I think," Jefferson City Jays coach Blair Thompson said.

Proof of the Midwest flavor --- there will be teams from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Arkansas and Illinois converging on Jefferson City.

"It's a really high level of competition," Thompson said. "It's always been a lot of fun and I'm sure it will be again this year. It's a top-notch event."

Second, you're going to see some nice basketball talent, including some Division I players who stick out like, well, Division I players (including Memphis-Lausanne's Cameron Payne, who's headed to Murray State). While the execution won't always be 100 percent, the effort from these young men and women is always over the top.

For that, if nothing else, it's worthy of our support. And for $5 a day, or $12 for a tournament pass, you can't beat the value.

"If you're a basketball fan, you couldn't ask for anything more," Lady Jays coach Shane Meyer said. "You're certainly going to get your money's worth."
There will be 24 games contested in this three-day span. Tournament brackets are available on the KRCG sports page under the basketball link, and at, which also has capsules for all 16 teams.

Saturday, both tournaments will conclude at Fleming Fieldhouse (the State Farm will be held at Rackers Fieldhouse the first two days.) The action starts at 9 a.m. on the final day; the last game is scheduled to start at 8 p.m.

Eight games and roughly 13 straight hours of holiday hoops.
Play ball.

As if this weren't 't enough, there's more. Thursday from 10-11 a.m, the free Scholastic Kids Clinic will be held at Fleming Fieldhouse; at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, there will be an alumni game between Jefferson City and Helias; and at noon Friday, you'll have the Arrive Alive 3-point Shootout and Slam Dunk Contest.

So if you need to get out of the house, here's your chance.