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story.lead_photo.caption Luke Northweather of Blair Oaks dunks the ball during last Tuesday night's game against Fatima in Wardsville. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

WARDSVILLE — The last two times Blair Oaks and Father Tolton met on the basketball court the result was decided in either overtime or double-overtime.

And Quinn Kusgen's half-court shot in the Class 3 District 9 Tournament championship game back in February is still fresh in the minds of both squads.

The Falcons and Trailblazers will battle in one of the most anticipated matchups of this year's Joe Machens Great 8 Classic, which won't be the traditional eight-team tournament with only local teams participating.

"It'll be a good experience for our guys regardless," Blair Oaks coach Ryan Fick said. "I think they'd rather go play three games over Christmas break than practice for two weeks straight without playing a game."

The Falcons will begin the three-day event at 2:30 p.m. Monday against Helias before playing Jefferson City at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Father Tolton at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Blair Oaks has come out on top in four of its five games this season, with the lone defeat coming on the road against the Nixa Eagles, a Class 6 team.

The Falcons swept their two Tri-County Conference Tournament games against Hallsville and Boonville to win the title. The defeat against Nixa and victories at Rock Bridge and against Fatima followed.

Nearly a week off before the Classic has given Blair Oaks time to work out some kinks ahead of the challenging tournament.

"Really just everything all round," Fick said. "Some time on the floor to practice. Just get a little more flow on the offensive end. Defensively, work on some fundamentals."

The Falcons are scoring more than 71 points per game, led by Luke Northweather's 28.2 points per game. Kusgen has added 18.8 points per game, including a 34-point performance in the conference championship game against Boonville.

Northweather is coming off a 30-point output against Fatima, shooting 11-of-14 from the field and 4-of-4 at the free-throw line. Before that, the 6-foot-9 junior put up 40 points against Rock Bridge.

Blair Oaks' opponents are scoring 60.2 points per game.

There won't be the typical unfamiliarity in the annual event at Fleming Fieldhouse with no out-of-state opponents.

"It's not your normal holiday tournament in Jeff City, but we're fortunate enough to be able to get three games," Fick said. "The tournament won't have the crowds that it typically does, but the main thing is that we get an opportunity to play."

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