Bob Ryan looked across the basketball landscape and saw something was missing. The owner of, an internet-based high school broadcasting network, Ryan wondered why, with all the showcases and shootouts across this great region of ours, there wasn’t one just for the girls. Usually the showcases and shootouts primarily feature boys and, occasionally, will slip in a girls game or two. “They have a token game or two,” Ryan says. “They’re entitled to have their own shootout where they are the featured games.”

This is how the Prepcasts Elite Girls Shootout was born. Now in its fourth year, the Shootout will be Saturday, Jan. 7, at CBC High School starting at 1 p.m. and running through the night. There are five games that feature a who’s who of local teams and a few that don’t usually play in these parts. Among the teams that will take part are Incarnate Word, St. Joseph’s Academy, Kirkwood, Lafayette, Eureka and St. Dominic. Each of these teams is loaded with kids that are slated to play basketball at the Division I level either next year or the year after.

Among the talented field scheduled to take the court at Mizzou are recruits Maddie and Morgan Stock (St. Joe) and Lianna Doty (Kirkwood). Taylor Manuel (Incarnate Word) is signed to take her game to Purdue. Alex Hillyer (Eureka) signed with Missouri State and has been playing out of this world so far. She’s averaging more than 23 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks per game this winter. Jordan Martynn (Lafayette) is averaging more than 15 points per game and joined the 1,000 point club at Lafayette last year. And that list of players doesn’t include the kids from Edwardsville, Ozark and Rock Bridge, all of whom are traditionally powerful programs.

The schedule, listed in this week’s What To Watch For, brings a slate of tasty matchups. Ryan says it was an easy sell for most of the teams to jump into the showcase because those top-tier teams often struggle to get good competition on their schedule. “Really good teams across the state have a hard time finding quality opponents,” Ryan says.

Ryan knows a thing or two about slapping together a schedule. He coached the Rosary girls’ basketball team from 1978 until 1985. He then took over the Ursuline program from 1994 until 2000. When he was coaching, Ryan says he figured the best way for his team to understand what it took to reach the highest level was to take on the teams that were at the highest level. “I always felt if my kids wanted to be the best they had to play the best,” Ryan says. “I think that’s how you get better.”

Ryan has an eye for talent. Last year’s Shootout field included two state champions (St. Dominic, Incarnate Word) and three other teams that made the final four (Hermann, St. Joe, Webb City).

The proof is in the pudding, and if you’re a fan of girls basketball, like Ryan, this is one day of hoops you must take in. You won’t regret it. “We’ll have some really good basketball,” Ryan says. “You can pay your $5, come, sit and watch basketball all day.”

It’ll be unlike any other showcase you’ll see all winter.