SIOUX CITY -- The weather outside has been unseasonably warm for this time of year, but the temperature inside will be heating up this week with the CNOS Foundation Basketball Classic.
Starting on Thursday, a total of 17 games will be played over three days to highlight the opening of the 2012 prep basketball schedule. Thirty-three teams will converge at the Tyson Events Center.
No fewer than eight of those teams are undefeated heading into 2012 while another seven have just one loss.
Thursday's schedule includes a matchup of Class 1A unbeaten teams, as second-ranked and defending state champion Storm Lake St. Mary's faces No. 6 Kingsley-Pierson.
A pair of one-loss teams also square off on opening day, No. 7 (Class 3A) Le Mars, with 6-7 Briar Cliff recruit Austin Homan, and Class 4A fifth-ranked Sioux City East, featuring 7-1 Iowa recruit Adam Woodbury.
Friday's six-game slate has another battle of unbeatens, this time, a girls contest. Class 3A sixth-ranked Bishop Heelan plays 2A second-ranked and last year's state runner-up Estherville-Lincoln Central.
Another top girls game on Friday's slate includes a War Eagle Conference clash between unbeaten and fifth-ranked (Class 1A) Le Mars Gehlen Catholic, led by seniors Amber Timmins and Steph Rohe, playing Hinton.
It's part of a tough schedule for Hinton this week. Monday, the Blackhawks will face 10th-ranked (Class 2A) Lawton-Bronson and ninth-ranked (Class 1A) Newell-Fonda on Tuesday. Hinton then concludes the grueling four-game post-holiday stretch against sixth-ranked (Class 1A) and unbeaten West Sioux next Tuesday.
Friday's boys highlights includes University of North Carolina recruit Marcus Paige and the Linn-Mar Lions (Iowa's 8th-ranked Class 4A team) squaring off with South Sioux City (top-ranked Nebraska Class B). South Sioux City features Iowa basketball recruit Mike Gesell and Creighton baseball recruit Austin Groth.
Gesell scored 124 points in the VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge. The Cardinals, who went 2-2 at the event, have another test on Saturday when they travel to face Class A second-ranked and unbeaten Norfolk.
There is no shortage of good games on the final day of the event. The annual Morningside and Briar Cliff women and men's contests are sandwiched around what should be some exciting prep basketball.
On the girls' side, defending 2A state champion OA-BCIG, top-ranked and still unbeaten, faces Class 3A Spencer. Meanwhile, a pair of 3A state tournament teams from a year ago square off when MOC-Floyd Valley, led by sophomore Alexis Conaway, faces Sergeant Bluff-Luton and its all-state duo of Cassidy Breon and Betsy Thomas.
The night games will see Paige and Linn-Mar face Iowa's three-time defending Class 3A state champion, Bishop Heelan. Meanwhile, the unbeaten MOC-Floyd Valley boys, ranked second in Class 3A, face an Ellsworth, Minn., squad that has lost only to Southwest Minnesota Christian.