The first big night of the high school hoops season comes tonight, with a trio of big ballgames featuring some of the best teams from the West County area.
On a city-wide scale, most eyes will be trained on the championship game of the DC Wilcutt Tournament out at CBC High School in Town and Country, where the Ladue High boys will take on the No. 2-ranked CBC Cadets at 8 p.m.
CBC was the area's preseason No. 1, with at least three top college prospects on their roster, including 6'7 swingman Jordan Barnett, 6'6 power forward Ray Doby, and 6'6 shooting guard Patrick McCaw.
The Cadets lost their No. 1 ranking after falling in the championship game of the Meramec Tournament to Hazelwood Central back on December 30.
Since then, they've won three straight -- all in blowout fashion -- over SLUH, Whitfield, and Clayton. CBC is now 12-3 on the season.
Ladue, which last lost in the semifinals of the MICDS Holiday Invitational, has won four straight, and will show up for tonight's matchup with an 11-3 record.
The Rams, who are led by junior point guard and area assist leader Cornell Johnston, are the No. 7 ranked team in the area, have played a solid schedule this year, but will be taking their first step onto the big boy stage when it faces CBC.
What the Ladue coach has to say
"They are a very good team. There's no doubt about that," Ladue head coach Chad Anderson said, after his Rams earned their shot at CBC with a 65-50 victory over Ft. Zumwalt North on Wednesday.
"But we look forward to the challenge. These kids love to compete. And I believe we'll be ready to step up and compete with CBC on Friday."
Ladue's post players, 6'9 center Austin DaGue and 6'7 forward Andrew Maddock, combined for 25 points and 25 rebounds on Wednesday, but will have to step up their games against Division-I prospects on CBC's front line.
One advantage Ladue has over CBC, is it features several players that can shoot it from deep, including Johnston, who leads the team with 23 three-pointers this season, and underclassmen sharpshooters Connor Spirtas, Jordan Cosby, and Jeremy Loftin -- a trio that each hits better than 40 percent of their three attempts.
Friday's DC Wilcutt championship game will be broadcast with live video and audio via the CBC Cadet Network powered by the Prepcasts Broadcasting Network.
Pre-game for the broadcast begins at 7:45 p.m., with all audio and video available online for free through www.prepcasts.com.
As exciting as the Ladue-CBC matchup figures to be, the more intriguing basketball experience might come at MICDS' McDonnell Gymnasium on Friday, when the red-hot boys and girls teams from John Burroughs will both make an appearance in Metro League games against the boys and girls from MICDS.
Girls take the floor at 6:30
The girls game will tip at 6:30, with 9-2 JBS taking on 12-1 MICDS.
The Bombers, who have been one of the nice surprises of the girls hoop season, have won four straight and eight of their last nine, including a pair of league wins over Lutheran North that have Burroughs tied for first place in the conference with the No. 6 ranked Rams.
Junior forward Steph Kelly has been fantastic for the Bombers all year, leading the team and ranking near the top of the conference in nearly every category, including points per game (15.3) and rebounds (8.3), which rank third and second in the Metro League this season.
For MICDS, which won its 10th straight game on Monday over Ladue, junior Emily Kyman leads the team in scoring (10.2 points a game), while teammates Maya Howard, Josie Cusworth, Taylor Baur, and Rachel Thompson all average at least seven points a game.
The nightcap is huge
The nightcap at McDonnell Gym, will pit the undefeated JBS boys against their MICDS counterparts, in a matchup of archrivals that just might be the best game of the night.
The Bombers, one of just three unbeaten boys teams left in the area, are ranked No. 4 in the city, after blowout wins to start the new year over Lutheran North and Principia.
Senior Foye Oluokun has been putting up mini-LeBron numbers for JBS, with team-best averages of 16.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 2.7 steals a game.
Teammates Ezekiel Elliott and Jimmy Carney have also been solid scorer for the Bombers, while point guard Trevor Bain has been on a three-point binge lately, including knocking down seven-of-seven in the win over Lutheran North back on January 4.
Practically no team had a worse start to the season than the MICDS boys, who lost five of their first six, including a pair of last-second losses to Clayton and Principia.
But the Rams seem to have righted their ship lately, with wins in five of their last seven, including league wins over Lutheran South and Priory in the last seven days.
Junior Robin Thompson continues to attract major attention from college scouts and recruiters, who seem to have fallen in love with his beefy 6'6 frame and 14.7 points per game average.
Senior Trey Pettus has also been drawing some attention, and will continue to do so if he can keep knocking down big shots like he has the last few weeks.
Tip-off for the JBS-MICDS boys game is slated for 8 p.m.
Friday's doubleheader will also be a special occasion of sorts for the Bombers and Rams, who will celebrate Pink Out Night at MICDS, with both games and all the player performances dedicated to raising breast cancer awareness.