Friday's semifinals saw two games go to overtime, three of the four be decided by three points or less and it saw the tournament's second game-winning buzzer-beater.
Saturday's going to have some high expectations but the matchups show that the final day of the 2022 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions is capable of living up to what's been an already-great event so far.
A special night at JQH Arena awaits with the biggest crowd in the history of the tournament anticipated. Thursday and Friday saw record-breaking crowds fill the stands and Saturday should follow.
2022 BASS PRO TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS SEMIFINAL RESULTS
Consolation — Parkview 47, New Madrid County Central 44
Consolation — Nixa 56, Catholic 53
Winner's — Sierra Canyon 81, Whitney Young 49
Winner's — Paul VI 55, Milton 54
CHAMPIONSHIP SATURDAY SCHEDULE
2:30 p.m. — Springfield Catholic vs. New Madrid County Central (seventh place)
4 p.m. — Nixa vs. Parkview (consolation championship)
6 p.m. — Slam Dunk Contest
7 p.m. — Milton vs. Whitney Young (third place)
9 p.m. — Sierra Canyon vs. Paul VI (championship)
Here's what we're looking forward to on Saturday:
Sierra Canyon, Paul VI is a rematch worth watching
It's been whispered throughout the Tournament of Champions that Sierra Canyon and Paul VI don't like each other very much.
The two teams played on Dec. 22 with Sierra Canyon coming out on top 52-49 at the 'Iolani Classic in Honolulu. Ramel Lloyd Jr., a Nebraska signee, scored 20 points in the win.
Trash talk and chippiness went back and forth between two of the best teams in the country. Paul VI guard and Michigan signee Dug McDaniel said that taking on Sierra Canyon was the ultimate goal heading into the Tournament of Champions.
And we'll get that rematch. A close game from last month will go down in the championship game.
Sierra Canyon didn't play that game with Amari Bailey, the No. 3 recruit in the nation and a UCLA signee. Bailey has looked like someone worthy of being one of the top recruits in the nation through the first two days of the tournament.
Paul VI is hungry and will come into this with a chip on its shoulder. In addition to McDaniel, we've seen DeShawn Harris-Smith break out as a solid prospect while leading the Panthers in scoring both days.
If you want possible drama, this might be the best-case scenario. It won't come to blows but it will lead to a hard-fought game between two of the best teams in the country. We couldn't ask for more.
Bruce Thornton has been one of the more fun players to watch
The third-place game also puts a pair of the nation's best against each other with Whitney Young taking on Milton.
Milton senior and Ohio State signee Bruce Thornton has been one of the more enjoyable players to watch, if not the most enjoyable player, throughout the first two days of the tournament.
Thornton's clutch shots and ability to put his team on his back are unlike what anyone else has done so far. He's a high scorer, gets rebounds and is someone who can get to the rim when needed.
Going up against Whitney Young, the Eagles are going to have to slow down Dalen Davis and limit A.J. Casey — both of which are solid prospects with the latter signed to play at Miami (Florida).
Casey was limited against a deep, long Sierra Canyon squad. He's not going to be held down for long and he'll have a battle with top football prospect LT Overton in the paint. Overton has had foul struggles in the first two days.
Don't be surprised if Milton guard Kanaan Carlyle gets going. He hasn't put up big numbers but the junior guard and Stanford commit is perfectly capable of putting together a big night before it's over.
One thing you can count on? Thornton rising to the occasion for Milton. He's been awesome.
Parkview, Nixa rematch will bring thrills
Nixa and Parkview played on Dec. 7, junior guard Kael Combs put together a memorable performance.
Nixa trailed by 11 at the half but Combs scored 20 of his 24 points in the final 16 minutes in a come-from-behind 49-40 win over the Vikings.
In that game, Nixa played without senior point guard Colin Ruffin — who has stood out as one of the better players in the area after his return.
Despite Combs and Ruffin's brilliance, you can't count out Parkview.
Parkview has been the grittiest team at the Tournament of Champions with a great performance against Sierra Canyon in the opening round before hitting a buzzer-beater to send it to overtime against New Madrid County Central and then hitting a buzzer-beater at the overtime horn to come away with the win.
Nixa has had some struggles from the free-throw line that it's going to need to figure out quickly or else that's going to be held against it on Saturday afternoon.
Parkview's balance has been impressive throughout the tournament with solid athletes at every position on the floor.
These two teams are considered two of the area's best for a reason. Getting another matchup between the two is very exciting.
Can Catholic grab a win over New Madrid County Central?
Catholic will go for its second win in Tournament of Champions history when it plays New Madrid County Central in the seventh-place game on Saturday afternoon.
Catholic's first win came in the seventh-place game in 2019 when it erased Parkview's 14-point halftime lead to come away with a 64-63 victory.
On Saturday, the Irish will lean on star senior Zach Howell who continues to be the focal point of their team and one of the best players in the area. He's going to get his numbers and it's going to be about who else can back him up.
Liam O'Reilly had a solid game with 12 points and seven assists in Catholic's 56-53 loss to Nixa. Quinn Roubal also scored 10 points and made two shots from deep.
New Madrid County Central won't be a pushover as it showed against Parkview why it was a team worthy of being invited to the tournament.
New Madrid has a star in sophomore guard Jadis Jones who scored 17 points on 50 percent shooting to go along with a whopping 19 rebounds. He's a player who is going to get a lot of attention in-state over the next few years.
Catholic has shown that it's one of the better teams in the area and it will have a chance to show it's one of the better teams in the state as it goes up against a state-ranked opponent.
The dunk contest is going to be 🔥🔥🔥
We haven't been told who is going to participate this year, but we've been told that there are some notable names who will make this one to watch.
The dunk contest is always a special celebration in the middle of Saturday's action as a big crowd stands on its feet to watch high school athletes get creative and throw down some monster jams.
After the tournament broke attendance records on both Thursday and Friday, it's anticipated that Saturday will be the highest-attended Tournament of Champions night in its history. With that type of crowd, there promises to be a lot of energy in the building.
Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter at @WyattWheeler_NL. He's also the co-host of Sports Talk on Jock Radio weekdays from 4-6 p.m.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Tournament of Champions: What we're looking forward to during finals