By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
Tyler Niemann is hoping for the trump card.
The senior point guard will help hang the first banner commemorating a trip to the state tournament for the Canton boys basketball team following this weekend's appearance in the Class 2 final four in Columbia, Mo. And if he can help the Tigers win the first state title in school history, he can finally say he's outdone his sister.
Tori Niemann, who graduated from Canton in 2010, played on the two state tournament teams, helping the Lady Tigers finish second in 2009 and fourth in 2010.
"My friends used to always give me crap about how she has more banners than me," Tyler Niemann said. "Now I can say I'm beating her in banners. She still has more state banners, but hopefully we can be the first state championship banner."
Tyler has certainly helped decorate the gym. He started on the 2013 basketball team which reached the state quarterfinals and the 2012 soccer team which advanced to the Class 1 quarterfinals. Last spring, he led the Canton baseball team to a fourth-place state finish.
It's clear he wants to do more than add just another banner. He wants the biggest one there can be.
"We still know we have unfinished business," Niemann said. "We didn't want to play out the season just to play it out. We're going to win."
Marion County girls basketball coach Mike Johnson has joked throughout the postseason that fishing season has to wait as long as the Lady Mustangs keep winning.
Well, not necessarily.
After attending Sunday church services, Johnson found a pond on some family property that no longer was iced over. So he got out his fishing gear and got his line wet. He even caught one lunker.
"It was the only spot we found that wasn't iced over," Johnson.
Steve Scholfield led Iberia, which will face Canton in the Class 2 semifinals at 8:20 p.m. Friday, to the final four in 2013 for the first time since 1968 and ended up taking third.
Maybe that's a little of his background rubbing off. Scholfield is a Quincy native who graduated from Quincy High School in 1977, just when legendary coach Jerry Leggett was putting his thumbprint on the Blue Devils program.
Canton coach Andy Anderson didn't plan to overdo practice this week.
After shooting around Monday, the Tigers watched some game film on Iberia before taking getting the chance to rest. Tuesday, Anderson planned a rugged practice to keep the Tigers in rhythm, but he wanted the focus to be on getting prepared for Iberia above all else.
"We have to focus on them first," Canton senior guard Brandon Berhorst said.
Danielle Maxwell has given the Marion County offense an added dimension with her 3-point shooting. Johnson noted she's capable of knocking five or six treys in a game as long as she doesn't get gun shy.
"She might miss the first six," Johnson said. "And I'm telling her to keep shooting. She's going to make them."
Because of the schedule the Missouri State High School Activities Association uses for the Class 1, 2 and 3 boys and girls basketball tournaments, some of Thursday's semifinals will be played at the Hearnes Center, not at Mizzou Arena.
The third-place and championship games will be played at the home of the Missouri Tigers, and with the Class 2 title tilt scheduled for 8:10 p.m. Saturday, Canton has the opportunity to play in prime time. That's been the goal all along.
"That's what we've wanted to do," Canton junior forward Gabe McKenzie said. "We want to get the big one."