IRONTON – Even amid unusual and unpredictable circumstances, the longest high school basketball tradition in the state of Missouri goes on.
A new season already altered by ongoing COVID-19 concerns will begin Saturday with the 94th annual Arcadia Valley Tournament under an adjusted schedule and safety guidelines.
Defending champion South Iron will again be the top seed and prohibitive favorite, but the usual beyond capacity crowd will not be gathered to greet teams on opening night.
Each participating school instead received 200 tickets for distribution to its respective fans, parents and students, but only for games involving their particular team.
The entire first round will be contested on Saturday with start times for each game separated by 2 ½ hours so spectators can vacate and the gym and locker rooms can be sanitized.
But at least there will be basketball in Ironton. Scheduled tournaments for the following week at Valle Catholic and De Soto have already been canceled. The Central and North County girls have also seen their season openers scrapped.
Bunker joined the AV field on short notice since a quarantine forced West County to remove itself. The second-seeded Eagles will face the host Tigers.
Other first-round pairings include No. 3 Fredericktown vs. Lesterville and No. 4 Ellington vs. Clearwater. South Iron begins the proceedings against Bismarck at 12:30 p.m.
The semifinals are set for Tuesday with the championship and third-place games on Thanksgiving night.
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