SPRINGFIELD, Mo–For nearly four decades the best boys high school basketball players in the country gather in Springfield for the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions.

The 2023 edition tipped off Thursday night, ozarks firsts Chris Pinson is at Great Southern Bank Arena with more.

You ain’t lying, Dan.

In nearly 40 years, more than 350 division 1 players, including 60 former NBA players have all competed in the nation’s best tournament.

Speaking of former NBA players, Carmelo Anthony sitting courtside watching his son Kiyan and Christ the King win their opening contest.

As for top rated Link Academy they faced off with St. Rita out of Chicago.

Lions couldn’t buy a basket for the first 4 minutes, but only trailed by 3, Elliot Cadeau tells Jakobe Walter to spread his wings and fly!

The alley-oop brings Link within 1.

Few minutes later, Walter shows off his versatility, buries the triple.

He scored Link’s first 10 points of the contest finished with a game-high 18.

Then right before the quarter ends, Cadeau demonstrates the vision that’s sending him to Chapel Hill as the top point guard in the class of 2024.

Lions lead 14-10 after 1.

Second quarter, Mustangs hanging tough, off the miss, James Brown gets the reboung and the put back “like he knew would” he poured in 14 for the Chi-town squad.

But after that it was all Lions.

They pulled away in the second half to roar loud and proud with a 22-point victory defeating St. Rita 74-52.

“I think we all just had to get comfortable together. We just had to talk amongst ourselves let each other know there’s nothing to be worried about we do this everyday in practice. We compete against each other. So, after that first talk and halftime talk I think we came out stronger,” said Link forward Jakobe Walter.

“I’ve been in a lot of big college basketball games and that’s as good atmosphere as you’re going to find for a high school basketball tournament. It’s the best in the country. It lived up to the hype tonight for sure. I’m excited to get the win and move on to the semifinal and have a chance to play a great team in Chris the King,” said Link coach Bill Armstrong.

As for the local representative Kickapoo, they had the tall task of playing Sunrise Christian out Bel Aire, Kansas.

And from the opening tip Buffaloes are all business.

Matas Buzelis drops the three on the Chiefs head to send a message from the jump.

Few minutes later, the three point barage continues.

Scotty Middleton from the corner, all 9 of his points came from the outside.

Sunrise led by 15 at half and kept a double digit lead the rest of the way as they win big to head to the semfinals.

So Dan, with Link winning their opening contest, they’ll play Friday night at 9:30 against the winner of Staley and Calvary Christian which is going on right behind me.

As for Kickapoo they’ll face the loser of this game in the consolation bracket at 6pm Friday night.

Reporting live at Great Southern Bank Arena, Chris Pinson ozarks first.