Local Teams Play in MLK Showcase
Hazelwood Central, McCluer North will compete with some of the top teams in the country.
No matter the result, the McCluer North High girls’ basketball team will come away a winner on Monday afternoon, January 17.
The Stars have been selected to participate in the 11-game, two-day Martin Luther King Showcase at North Technical High School in Florissant.
The prestigious event features some of the top girls basketball teams in the Midwest. Schools from Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Florida and Tennessee will be featured.
Plus, the teams get to show off their skills on a very special holiday.
"It's an honor to play on his birthday," said North coach Dwayne Polk. "And you can bet, we're going to come out with fire."
The Stars, 10-5 and fresh off a key conference win at Pattonville on Friday, will take on Butlersville High of Butlersville, Ohio in a 3:30 p.m. contest on Monday.
The opportunity to play on a holiday in front of an enthusiastic crowd is a win-win situation according to Polk.
"This is definitely a neat deal," he said. "Games like this, the girls will remember for a long time."
North participated in the initial MLK Showcase last season dropping a 10-point decision. That setback has the Stars thinking revenge. They will have their hands full against a squad that is one of the best in Ohio.
"I know it's good competition, but it's not about the other team and what (it) can do," Polk said. "It's about what we can do, and I know what we're capable of doing."
McCluer North senior forward Kaci Cason, who is third in the St. Louis area in scoring at 22 points per game, is looking forward to the Monday showdown.
"It's a big day, and everyone is going to be off school," she said. "We're ready for it."
North has won four games in a row and five of its last six. Polk's crew is slowly but surely gearing up for a post-season run.
"It's all about the end of the season," he said. "We want to be ready then, not now."
Hazelwood Central, winner of seven successive games, will also participate in the MLK Showcase. The Hawks (11-1) face White Station High of Memphis, Tennessee on Sunday at 1:45 p.m.
Central is capping off a busy stretch during which it will have played seven games in 11 days. Earlier in the month, Central coach Wendy Reeves said the rugged slate will help her team in the long run.
"Facing good opponents like this can only make us better," she said.
The feature game of the event could be the final contest on Monday. Incarnate Word Academy (11-2), the defending Class 5 state champion, will take on Tennessee powerhouse Ridgeway High of Memphis.
In another tasty matchup, Webb City, currently ranked first in the state of Missouri among Class 5 schools, faces Overton High of Memphis on Sunday at 5:15 p.m.
The tournament is the brainchild of North County Tech coach George Merritt.
Other area teams participating including Cahokia, Miller Career Academy, East St. Louis and North County Tech. Chicago area toughie Whitney Young is also on the bill.