March 7, 2023
DEFINITION: A select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society.
St. Joseph, Mo., is a basketball town. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. From the legacy left by N.S. Hillyard that has been carried on by Hillyard Companies, to the rich basketball traditions of our local high schools and Missouri Western, to the large youth basketball scene in St. Joseph – the love and passion for basketball is undeniable.
In just a short time, St. Joseph will welcome the best women’s college basketball teams in the country to the Civic Arena for the 2023 NCAA Division II Women’s Elite Eight. The four Elite Eight games will take place at noon, 2:30, 6 and 8:30 on Monday, March 20, and the two Final Four games will take place the evening of Wednesday, March 22, at 6 and 8:30 p.m.
The 2023 Elite Eight tournament will mark the fifth time St. Joseph and the Civic Arena have hosted the prestigious tournament, with the NCAA coming to town in 2003, 2004, 2010 and 2011. This further cements St. Joseph as a basketball town, as the NCAA continues to trust our city’s ability to host championship events.
“It is an absolute honor to have the opportunity to host an NCAA Championship,” said Brett Esely, Director of the St. Joseph Sports Commission. “It’s a testament to our city that continues to showcase its excellent location and hospitality displayed to the hundreds of visitors we’ll see during this time.”
As if hosting a NCAA national championship event wasn’t enough, the St. Joseph Sports Commission and its local partners have two community events planned to accompany the Elite Eight. The first is the Hoops Fest, a celebration of national championship week in partnership with MO Family Sports. Hoops Fest will be hosted at East Hills Shopping Center on Saturday, March 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event is free to the public and will showcase basketball skills competitions for our local youth basketballers.
The second community event is the Jackie Stiles Youth Clinic held on campus at Missouri Western State University on Tuesday, March 21. Stiles is a women’s college basketball legend, playing at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) from 1997 to 2001. She was the first player in NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball to score 1,000 points in a single season and held the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball all-time scoring record until it was broken in 2017.
That’s a lot, but St. Joseph is up to the task. As the Elite Eight looms closer, Esely and organizers of this event are excited to welcome the NCAA and high-level women’s college basketball back to St. Joseph.
“I encourage everyone to get involved in championship week in some way, as not too many communities get this opportunity,” Esely said. “Coupled with the aesthetic renovation that’s almost complete at Civic Arena, St. Joseph will provide an excellent backdrop and true championship experience for this event.”
If you’re interested in watching some of the best women’s college basketball in the country (you should be), you can see game times, other details and purchase tickets here: https://stjomosports.com/
Oh yeah, one more thing – the NCAA 2024 Division II Women’s Elite Eight will be in St. Joseph next spring, with the Elite Eight, Final Four and National Championship games all taking place inside Civic Arena. Feel free to start making plans now.
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