City of Cape Girardeau The Christmas Tournament exemplifies our relationships with neighboring towns

The City of Cape Girardeau enjoys an interdependent relationship with all its neighboring cities, towns, villages and homesteads in between.

Our neighbors depend on our city’s amenities and businesses as much as we depend on our neighbors. As the regional hub, Cape Girardeau benefits greatly from people who commute to our city to work every day. We depend on those who come here to eat, shop, and be treated in our hospitals to also stimulate our economy. The city puts on all sorts of events to attract tourists, but without the folks who visit regularly from neighboring towns, the City of Cape Girardeau would just not be the same.

Perhaps no sporting event recognizes this relationship better than the annual Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament.

If you’ve lived here or in the area for any length of time, you know the tournament is a post-Christmas ritual, where 16 high school basketball teams from Southeast Missouri come together at the Show Me Center.

It’s a chance for players from some of the smallest high schools to play on a Division I college court, in front of their fans, families and others who just enjoy watching some basketball. The tournament has been around since 1945, when it was called the College High Christmas Tournament, and the games were played at Houck Field House. The tournament has been held at the Show Me Center every year since 1987.

The tournament: A microcosm of cooperation

The tournament draws around 20,000 fans over four days every year. This event is a microcosm of what makes Cape Girardeau tick. The tournament is played at the Show Me Center, which is also the result of an interdependent relationship between the City and Southeast Missouri State University. The City and the university each appoint three members to the Show Me Center Board of Managers. The tournament, meanwhile, is the result of a relationship between the Southeast Missourian newspaper, business sponsors and the Show Me Center. As a result, high school athletes from the entire region benefit from a great event.

This year, our own Cape Girardeau Central is the favorite, having earned the top seed after several strong performances already this season. Charleston, which holds the record for most tournaments won, is the second seed, followed by Jackson at No. 3, Advance at No. 4 and Notre Dame at No. 5.

An interesting dynamic about this tournament is that the school sizes range widely, from tiny Zalma with about 100 high school students to Jackson, which has more than 1,600 at the high school. What the size disparity means is that there are a number of blow-outs in early rounds. Some of the smaller schools are simply outmatched, but they find better matchups in the consolation bracket.

But that doesn’t mean that some of the rural districts haven’t had a great deal of success. Advance, Woodland, Oran, Scott City, Bell City, Kelly and small-school powerhouse Scott County Central have all won tournament titles over the years.

The tournament is an annual tradition that fills a void of entertainment right after Christmas. The tournament is a great chance for casual fans to mingle and connect with friends and family from our neighboring towns. As the tournament progresses, the intensity of the competition intensifies. More times than not, our neighbors come to our house and take home the hardware. We always tip our caps to the talented victors who show us what they’re made of. We’re all about that Southeast Missouri hustle.

This year, though, we’ve got our money on the hometown boys from Cape Central. Go Tigers!


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