The Calfornia Lady Pintos are becoming regular participants in the Missouri National Guard Shootout.
And they'd like to keep it that way.
"The way this event is run is amazing and to be in it is more than a priviedge, it's an honor," California coach Bobby Sangster said Wednesday at a media conference for the Shootout, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 21, at Fleming Fieldhouse in Jefferson City. "The fact that we keep getting invited back is a tribute to our fans and to our girls."
This is the third Shootout appearance for the Lady Pintos.
"To play in an event like this, where former players and family members and all your fans can come and watch you is a huge thing," Sangster said. "Basketball is huge in California and for us to be able to put on a show for them is great."
California will face Harrisburg at 6 p.m.
"We hope we can make it a good game," Sangster said. "Harrisburg will be well-coached and has a great history. We have the utmost respect for them."
The New Bloomfield Lady Wildcats are also returning to the Shootout after posting a 12-13 record last season. New Bloomfield dropped a 40-28 decision to eventual Class 1 state runner-up Chamois in last year's Shootout.
"It's a great experience for the girls," New Bloomfield coach Brett Craighead said. "They get to play a game in a big-time atmosphere that you wouldn't get unless you were in the state tournament or something like that."
The Lady Wildcats, who won 10 of their final 14 games last season, have come out strong early, but Craighead believes his team has room to grow as the season progresses.
"I like what I see," Craighead said. "You can tell, it's still early in the year. We're still trying to find our way. They've played together for a long time, they know each other, we've just got to clean up some things and become a little more consistent shooting the basketball."
New Bloomfield will take on Jamestown in the first game at noon.
The Tipton Lady Caridnals will be making their first appearance in the event, and will take on the Belle Lady Tigers at 1:30 p.m.
"It's really exciting for us," Tipton coach Jason Culpepper said. "We're really looking forward to it. We get to play a district opponent, so that's always good to get to see the other side of the district that we don't see during the conference or regular season.
"We've heard quite a bit about (the Shootout), and it sounds like a pretty fun event to get into."
Tipton returns a strong nucleus from last season's 14-13 squad, including all-district point guard Caroline Combs. The Lady Cardinals are 1-0 on the young season after a win against Chamois on Tuesday night.
"We played really good basketball, pretty much mistake-free," Culpepper said.
Now they'll hope to continue that streak going into the Shootout.