By BLAKE TOPPMEYER and MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Staff
Pittsfield boys basketball coach Brad Tomhave is going to get his wish.
Plans are being finalized to expand the Pittsfield Turkey Tournament next year to an eight-team event split into two four-team pools.
Pittsfield athletic director Don Bigley said he's received verbal agreements from Illini West, Western and Macomb to join the tournament, which will be entering its seventh year, and contracts have been issued to each school.
Each team would play three pool-play games during the week of Thanksgiving followed by one crossover game on Saturday.
"Brad Tomhave, since the first year, has wanted to change it to an eight-team tournament with two pools," Bigley said. "It's been a pretty good tournament for the first six years. This will just be another step to making it even better."
The tournament expanded from five teams to six teams this year with the inclusion of Pleasant Plains. Hannibal will no longer be included in the tournament in the future, meaning the field will be Pittsfield, Liberty, Payson Seymour, Griggsville-Perry, Pleasant Plains and the three new additions.
Pittsfield's tournament, along with the QND/Gully Transportation Tip-Off Tournament and Suns Classic, were affected this year by a little-known Missouri State High School Activities Association bylaw limiting Missouri teams to three games in a pool-play tournament. MSHSAA allowed Hannibal to play four games this year but as a one-time exemption.
Bigley said losing Hannibal was unfortunate.
"The really good thing about them was it was somebody we don't play in the regular season," he said. "You always like to see some different teams when you go into tournaments, if at all possible."
QND's Gully Transportation tournament is now faced with a tough situation. Already the tournament, which included four teams in a pool-play format, was going to lose Knox County and Kirksville because of the Missouri bylaw situation. That would have left QND and Western as the remaining teams in the pool, but now the Wildcats are on their way out.
"Was I caught off guard? One-hundred percent I was," QND athletic director Bill Connell said. "I don't know what direction we're going in."
The teams from the Gully Transportation played a crossover game with teams from the Suns Classic on the final night of the event. The Suns Classic still includes all four teams in its pool-play event: Southeastern, Unity, Central and West Hancock.
"Are we going to survive? One-hundred percent we're going to survive," Connell said. "Exactly how is something we'll work on. This tournament has been around a long time, and we're going to work to continue that tradition."
Bigley said discussions about expanding the Pittsfield tournament began Nov. 27 at a West Central Conference meeting where he talked to
Macomb athletic director David Bartlett and Illini West athletic director Joey Dion. Bigley later discussed the matter with Western athletic director Marty Hull, and contracts were sent to the three schools on Tuesday.
The final day of the tournament will leave no doubt as to the tournament's true champion. The top teams from each pool will square off, as will the No. 2 teams, No. 3 teams and No. 4 teams.
"We're excited about it," Bigley said. "We think it's going to take a tournament that's pretty good already and make it even better."