Hoop it up, we're still here!

Since the world didn't end, it's time to enjoy some basketball.

If the world came to an end Friday, everything sure does look familiar, doesn't it?

Since we've apparently gotten past this latest rapture, it's time to do Christmas shopping.

Mayan calendars all around!

Before we get to more important matters, like basketball, here's what a few folks did to prepare for Friday's end (according to

, along with a few other thoughts):

* A man in Phoenix kept 1,000 fish in his swimming pool, which he planned to survive on if the worst came (Now what? I hope he has a lot of tartar sauce);

* One couple said they collected 25,000 rounds of ammunition and gathered enough food inside their gated-home to survive for 50 years (If everyone was gone, who were they going to shoot? Well, at least now they can have a fabulous Christmas party. Have a meatball, shoot a round!);

* A California company sold 50 survivor bunkers in the past three months alone (We should have thought of this. Go to Walmart, get a bunch of snacks and spam, a couple football helmets and a tent, and sell the package for $25,000).

The money we could have made.

Oh, well. There will be another end of the world coming soon.

In the meantime, it's time to enjoy to some holiday basketball. Call this: Hoop it up, we're still here!

Next week, Thursday thru Saturday, we'll have the Machens Great 8 Classic (boys) and the State Farm Invitational at the Fleming and Rackers fieldhouses.

But first things first --- Saturday, you'll be treated to the National Guard Shootout, six games (three boys, three girls) at Fleming Fieldhouse, starting at noon with New Bloomfield playing Chamois in a boys game.

Before we go any further, a couple of things about these events.

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 to some good basketball at a silly-low price and the players are treated very, very well, especially those who have a three-day, two-night stay.

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

Second, you're going to see some nice basketball talent, including some Division I players who stick out like, well, Division I players. The execution won't always be 100 percent from these young men and women, but the effort is always over the top. Watching these events for many years, I know this is true.

For that, if nothing else, it's worth our support.

More to come on next week's tournaments, but here are some things to watch during Saturday's National Guard Shootout:

* The Hermann Lady Bearcats are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 3 and they'll face Fatima (6 p.m.), which always comes to play. All the Fatima sports programs are riding a wave of success, while the Lady Bearcats went 26-2 last year, losing in the state sectionals to ...

* The California Lady Pintos, who are currently ranked eighth in the state. In a long line of talented "Deekens," the latest is junior Sydney Deeken, an All-State performer who's being recruited for both her basketball and volleyball talents. The Lady Pintos will face ...

* The South Callaway Bulldogs (3 p.m.), who played Chamois --- ranked No. 6 in Class 1 --- to a three-point game earlier this week. The Lady Pirates return four starters from last year's 23-5 quarterfinal team, most notably SIU-Edwardsville signee Miranda Brandt. Chamois will meet New Bloomfield at 1:30 p.m.

* The first of three Scanlons to hit Fleming Fieldhouse over the holidays, Blair Scanlon, will coach the California boys against Hermann (4:30 p.m.), two teams that won 20 and 19 games, respectively, last season. Blair will be followed by his brother, Brennan (Mexico) and his father, Jim (Rock Bridge) at next week's Machens Great 8 Classic. Those teams and that father/son could meet in the second round.

* And this is what you'd call saving the best for last --- two boys teams ranked in the top 10 in Class 3, Fatima and Southern Boone, will collide in Saturday's finale at 7:30 p.m. Fatima is coming off the Linn Tournament championship last weekend and is led by senior center Chad Stegeman, who's a horse. Nick Carlos --- a 6-7 senior who's headed to Central Michigan and is the first Division I athlete in school history --- is both an inside and outside force for Southern Boone.

Enjoy. And the cost? Five bucks for six games. Can you find a better deal? Doubtful.

You can't even get a Mayan calendar for that.