Traditions of the Ozarks: Blue and Gold basketball tournament

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — An event that has become a pillar of the holiday season in the Ozarks has deep roots that continue to grow.

The Blue and Gold Tournament brings high school basketball teams together that normally may not face off at any other time.

For many, basketball comes second to tradition.

For nearly 75 years, the Blue and Gold basketball tournament has been a ritual — synonymous with the holiday season in the Ozarks. For fans like Gary Combs, it’s about more than just basketball.

“My dad actually got a job here at SMS and was in the computer programming area,” Combs said. “We were coming to games at McDonald arena, and I remember some of those games sitting in those hard seats.”

Since then, it’s something he has kept alive with his family.

“You know, it’s 74 years now for the Blue and Gold, and I haven’t been here for all of those, but I have been here for over 35 years of it and I’ve only missed three since the early 70s,” Combs said.

For fans, it’s certainly ingrained in their holiday routines. But for those on the hardwood, the history is just as rich.

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