Grizzly Basketball season schedule features tough region, non-region teams

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A blend of tough Region 16 and non-region teams will make up this year’s shortened Grizzly Basketball season at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP).

When NJCAA officials decided in July to shift nearly all competition to the 2021 spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they limited Division I basketball teams to 22 competition dates.

 The shortened season, coupled with each region’s decision whether to compete against non-region opponents, made it more difficult to put together a competitive schedule, first year Grizzly Basketball Head coach Jared Phay said.

But fans still should be satisfied with the level of play they will see this year.

“This year’s schedule is obviously different than a normal year, but I really like how it came together,” Phay said. “We will play everyone in the region three times. We know how tough of a region this is, so we will have some really good games!”

Mineral Area College will be the Grizzlies’ first region opponent. They will host the Cardinals at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at the West Plains Civic Center. They will see the Cardinals again March 10 in Park Hills and March 27 at home in the regular season finale.

The Grizzlies will travel to Poplar Bluff Feb. 13 for their first game against the Three Rivers College Raiders. They will host the Raiders March 1 then travel back to Poplar Bluff March 15 for the third contest.

MSU-WP will face Moberly Area Community College Feb. 22 at home, March 6 in Moberly, and March 22 at home.

The games against State Fair Community College will take place Feb. 24 in Sedalia, March 12 in West Plains and March 24 in Sedalia.

The Grizzlies will start the regular season Jan. 20 against non-region opponent Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kansas. Phay called the Red Ravens “one of the best teams in the country this year.”

The Grizzlies will host their only home tournament of the season, the Grizzly Classic, Jan. 22 and 23. The tournament will feature Arkansas Baptist College on Jan. 22 and National Park College, a Division II program from Hot Springs, Arkansas, Jan. 23.

“Playing teams in our conference three times plus playing some very good non-conference teams will prepare us for the postseason,” Phay said. “I always try to play the best teams we can so we can continually be improving. With COVID being a challenge, I still feel we have a tough schedule, as well as some good home games for our fans to see.”

Phay said the Grizzlies are looking forward to playing in front of their fans, even if the pandemic creates some changes.

“COVID will require some restrictions, as far as masking and other precautions, but we are fortunate to have a large facility that can support social distancing while allowing a good number of fans to be present,” he said.

Those who cannot attend will have the option of watching live streams of the home games online. “I’m excited about our new video system. It will be high level and a great way for fans unable to attend in person to watch the action live,” the coach said.

Postseason play begins March 31 with the Region 16 Tournament play-in game, followed by the tournament April 2-3. The district championship game is set for April 10, and the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship will take place April 19-24 in Hutchinson, Kansas.

“Our players and staff are excited to have a great season and are very much looking forward to January,” Phay said. “We all know the COVID challenges are there, but the players and staff appreciate the commitment from our university and community to make enough accommodations to allow us to have a great season!”

For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, including the complete schedule, visit msuwpgrizzlies.com or call 417-255-7991.

Ticket information will be available at a later date.

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