Warsaw Tourney Jump Starts Basketball Season

Adam Dean Howe
Enterprise Staff
Warsaw Tourney Jump Starts Basketball Season
By Adam Dean Howe
Enterprise Staff
Believed to be the one of the longest tenured, if not the oldest high school basketball tournaments in the state of Missouri, the 87th Annual Warsaw Invitational Basketball Tournament will get underway next Monday, December 2, 2019.  The uber-established event began in 1927, took a hiatus throughout two World Wars and the Great Depression, resumed again in 1945 and hasn’t missed a year since on the boy’s side.  The girls side of the bracket enters it’s 32nd year as it was added many years later in 1988. 
Former Warsaw Athletic Director and boy’s coach Loren Burke (1986-94) confirmed the belief by saying, “It’s one of the oldest or at least one of the longest running tournaments in the state of Missouri.”
On the streets and in the stands, many reasons can be found for the tournament’s rich tradition. 
“Some of the area’s best basketball players and Final Four teams played in the tournament which has made it fun to watch and be a part of,” Burke went on to say. 
Burke added, “There’s a lot of ex-players and fans who grew up playing and watching the tournament traditionally and that has also always made it fun.”
Current Warsaw Athletic Director Ryan Boyer considers the local event special for a number of reasons.
“It seems to really kick-off the basketball season for several teams,” Boyer said.  “At the beginning of the year, teams are hungry and just looking to build a good record early on.”
Additionally, Boyer mentioned the attendance, “A tournament brings a neat atmosphere to any game.  Year in and year out we are able to have a lot of the same teams in the tournament.  That not only gives fans the opportunity to see players, teams and their growth from one year to the next, but it also brings the opportunity to establish or renew rivalries and that always helps with the crowds.” 
Former Warsaw girl’s standout (1992-96) and current girl’s assistant coach Charlotte Beck echoed the sentiments of the tournament and how it seemingly “officially” gets the season going.
“Being able to host an event for 87 years is an incredible fact in itself,” Beck said.  “And even though we usually have 1 game before, the Warsaw tournament always feels like the kick-off to our season.”
Warsaw girl’s head coach Cody Morgan likes the fact that the event, being held so early, has a lot of unknowns. 
“It’s an early season tournament so we usually don’t know a lot about the other teams,” he said.  “A lot of times, team seeds are based off of last year’s records, so you may see some upsets or even a lower seed playing for the championship.  Anything can happen.”
Other former players have different reasons for finding the tournament as being special.
Former Wildcats hoopster Eddie Carroll (1978-82) said, “The tournament is obviously special to the school, but my most memorable moment was actually winning it our senior year.  Of course, we might owe thanks to Wade Chism for getting ejected.  He was a great player for Versailles.”
A more recent Wildcats player, Tyler Simons (2014-18) agreed with Boyer in regards to the atmosphere that the event creates.
“It’s a special tournament because of the home crowd that it draws and the big game atmosphere that comes with it,” he said.  “It makes you want to protect the home court and make Warsaw proud.”
Perhaps former Warsaw girl’s player, Eryn (Downs) Kellner (1992-1996) summed up the tournament best when she said, “I had the opportunity to play in the Warsaw tournament with Coach (Don) Dixon, a coach who I highly respected.  And now my son (James) gets to play in the same tournament with a coach that he respects a lot too.  The tournament always has a good turnout and there is always alumni who come back to watch and visit all week.”
Kellner added, “It was one of my best memories of high school.”
Memories . . . After all, isn’t that what high school is all about?