Two of the standouts in the 16-team field coming in for the 63rd annual Neosho Holiday Classic are the Cypress Falls Eagles from Houston (Texas) and the Benjamin Banneker Academy Warriors from Brooklyn (New York).

MaxPreps ranks Cypress Falls No. 5 in the state of Texas and No. 11 nationally. The Eagles were 13-2 on the season entering their game against Jersey Village. Cypress Falls’ losses have been against Waxahachie (75-69) and Westlake (69-49), both games in the Cypress Hoops Invitational.

The Eagles have five players averaging double-digit points — Nigel Hawkins at 18.3, Kendall Scott 12.3, Andrew Nguyen 12.2, Trajan Wesley 12.0, and Deshang Weaver 10.8. Weaver stands at 6-foot-8, Scott 6-7, Hawkins 6-4, Nguyen 5-11, and Wesley 5-10.

Two years ago, Atoscocita (Texas) made waves at the Holiday Classic being the top-ranked team nationally at the time. Their lineup included outstanding guards Carsen Edwards and Greg Shead and big man Fabian White.

Benjamin Banneker plays teams like Van Arsdale, Bushwick, and East New York Transit Tech. Among their former players is Gary Forbes, who scored 1,512 points and grabbed 766 rebounds during his prep career. He played for the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors in the NBA in the 2010 and 2012 seasons, respectively. Forbes now plays for Faros Larissas of the Greek Basket League.

The host Neosho Wildcats play the Ruskin Golden Eagles in their opening game Wednesday.

Neosho enters the Holiday Classic 1-9 overall on the season with an eight-game losing streak. Top scorer Brady Wise had surgery on his right knee two days after Neosho’s loss to Lamar in the 4-State Coaches Challenge. It’s expected that Wise will be able to return for the Holiday Classic.

In the last two editions of the Holiday Classic, Neosho lost key players to injury, Brian Banks last season and Lukas Werneke two seasons ago.

Ruskin posted a 1-5 record over its first six games with the Golden Eagles’ only win coming against William Chrisman. Their losses have been against Raytown, Raymore-Peculiar, Rockhurst, Blue Springs, and Raytown South.

Neosho and Ruskin play the opening game at the high school, part of a string of five straight games on the tournament’s first day.

McDonald County opens its tournament against West Memphis (Arkansas). The Blue Devils of West Memphis are ranked No. 14 in the state of Arkansas by MaxPreps.

The Blue Devils feature outstanding sophomore Chris Moore, a 6-foot-6 forward who came into high school already hyped as one of the top players in the Class of 2020. At West Memphis Junior High, for example, Moore averaged 27 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, and six blocks per game.

Moore and West Memphis defeated Neosho in the opening round last season.

Last season, McDonald County opened against another tough, athletic Arkansas school in North Little Rock, who play Middle College in their opening game this season.

The Lamar Tigers — another addition to the field — open against Cypress Falls in the late game Wednesday. East Newton dropped out and signed on for the Southwest Tournament.

Other games include Sheffield (Tennessee) and Maumelle (Arkansas), Bentonville West (Arkansas) and St. Joseph Lafayette, and Mitchell (Tennessee) and Van Buren (Arkansas).




Neosho vs. Ruskin, 2 p.m. (HS)

Sheffield vs. Maumelle, 2 p.m. (JH)

Bentonville West vs. Lafayette, 3:30 p.m. (HS)

Mitchell vs. Van Buren, 3:30 p.m. (JH)

West Memphis vs. McDonald County, 5 p.m. (HS)

North Little Rock vs. Middle College, 5 p.m. (JH)

Benjamin Banneker vs. Morrilton, 6:30 p.m. (HS)

Cypress Falls vs. Lamar, 8 p.m. (HS)




2016: Wichita Word of Life (Kansas)

2015: Atascocita (Texas)

2014: St. Joseph Lafayette (Gold Division)

2014: East Newton (Black Division)

2013: Sagemont, Florida (Gold)

2013: Morrilton, Arkansas (Black)

2012: Sunrise Christian (Kansas)

2011: Sunrise Christian (Kansas)

2010: Carthage

2009: Central Park Christian (Alabama)

2008: Van Buren (Arkansas)

2007: Marietta (Georgia)

2006: Ruskin

2005: Cypress Christian (Texas)

2004: Springdale (Arkansas)

2003: Fayetteville (Arkansas)

2002: Neosho

2001: Neosho

2000: Neosho

1999: Neosho

1998: Hillcrest

1997: Siloam Springs (Arkansas)

1996: Owasso (Oklahoma)

1995: Neosho

1994: Neosho

1993: Siloam Springs (Arkansas)

1992: Diamond

1991: Siloam Springs (Arkansas)

1990: Neosho

1989: McDonald County

1988: McDonald County

1987: East Newton

1986: Carthage

1985: McDonald County

1984: Joplin Memorial

1983: Rogers (Arkansas)

1982: Neosho

1981: Carthage

1980: Joplin Memorial

1979: Joplin Memorial

1978: Joplin Memorial

1977: Joplin Memorial

1976: Joplin Memorial

1975: Carthage

1974: McDonald County

1973: McDonald County

1972: Webb City

1971: Carthage

1970: Carthage

1969: Mount Vernon

1968: Carthage

1967: Wheaton

1966: Wheaton

1965: Neosho

1964: Lamar

1963: Goodman

1962: Granby

1961: Carthage

1960: Carthage

1959: Springfield Central

1958: Neosho

1957: Carthage

1956: Carthage

1955: Joplin