By ROB TATE ~ DAR Sports Writer
After a runner-up finish in last season's Bloomfield Christmas Tournament, some might be surprised at the seed which was agreed on for the Doniphan Dons.
Yes, they lost their top two players from last season in Chandler and Charles Wilson, but the Dons also returned some key components as well.
Doniphan coach Jason Andrews felt though that the No. 7 seed his team got is mostly a reflection on the players that graduated.
"We lost a lot kids," Andrews said. "I honestly understand what the coaches were thinking. It's really hard to seed the teams, but we understand."
The Dons enter the tournament with a 3-2 record on the season. All three wins were sandwiched between the two losses coming against Eminence on Nov. 30 in Current River Challenge then had a 57-29 setback last week against New Madrid County Central.
Doniphan has looked real good in its three wins so far this season with an average margin of victory of 25.3 points in wins over Neelyville, East Carter and Alton.
If everything goes well against No. 10-seed Richland in the first round, Doniphan will more than likely face an extremely tough Portageville team, which is the second seed and undefeated at 5-0.
Richland, however, won't be overlooked by Doniphan although Andrews said last week he was gonna go scout the Rebels, but the ice canceled most of the games last week.
Andrews stressed that no team can be overlooked in this tournament.
"You can't look ahead," Andrews said. "That's something we tried not to do. Even when you're the top seed, your first game you gotta gear up for and if you don't, you'll play in the losers' bracket."
Something Doniphan hasn't lacked this year is offense. Senior Mitch Granier and junior Greg Davis have been torching the net as each has scored in double figures in games they have appeared in. Davis is averaging 16.8 points per game while Granier is averaging 17.5. Granier missed the game against New Madrid with the flu.
"I like our leadership," Andrews said. "They're all on the same page. It's not who can be the high-scorer or assist leader with these guys. We're just trying to win as a team."
The Dons have also gotten solid play out of sophomore Taylor Smith who scored 20 points against East Carter on Dec. 9. Gavin Wilfong, Logan Rush, Frankie Cape and Cody Asay all have had significant playing time this year.
"It don't matter what you're seeded," Andrews said. "Whoever gets hot will usually win."
Although Twin Rivers coach Rob Brown wasn't happy how his team performed against Clearwater last Friday night in its final dress rehearsal prior to the tournament, he felt that his team's fortune could change at Bloomfield.
"You always got time to turn it around," Brown said last week. "Christmas break is a great time to get things going. We're sixth-seed but we play Malden and they are kind of like us -- a team in transition trying to figure things out."
Twin Rivers (3-3) has dropped two straight games coming in with losses to Portageville (who the Royals could face again in the semifinals). The Royals hold a win over the host Wildcats back on Dec. 9.
Twin Rivers' trio of Kyle Oberkramer, Ryan Miller and Brett Whitlock will be a big part to the Royals' success as is post player Zech Payne.
"Anything can happen over there," Brown said of Bloomfield. "The kids love the tournament. The coaches and everyone are looking forward to it. It's a great time and they do a good job putting on."
The Puxico Indians (2-5) might be a team a little more worn down coming into the tournament after playing home games against Naylor and Kelly on Monday and Tuesday night.
Puxico coach Marc Crane didn't seem pleased with how the schedule worked, but it could be for the good for the Indians as some teams might have to deal with some rust at the Bloomfield Tournament from missing games due to the ice storm last week.
"I don't understand how it happened but it did," Crane said about the schedule.
Crane, who is in his first year as head coach, is confident his team can pull an upset in the first round like they did last season against Dexter. Puxico then went on to shock host Bloomfield in the quarterfinals.
"Even though we're the 13-seed, we match up pretty well against them," Crane said of first round opponent Hayti. "They don't really like to shoot the ball outside but will if they have to. We do a great job on man-to-man and we do an excellent job on help defense. If our kids come to play, we can make a lot of noise in the Bloomfield Tournament."