Kapaun Mount Carmel boys coach Bernie Pearson knows his players are eagerly anticipating tonight's basketball game with visiting Bishop Carroll.
The No. 1 reason is because Carroll is Kapaun's biggest rival.
But coming a close second is the Crusaders just want to play. Their last game was Dec. 19, a win over visiting Lenexa St. James.
Most teams across the state return to playing basketball tonight after layoffs of at least two weeks. The Kansas State High School Activities Association does not allow teams to practice from Dec. 23-27.
Kapaun spent the past week preparing for tonight.
"You can't simulate what will happen in a game, night in and night out. It's tough," Pearson said."... We all practiced hard, we even went two-a-days to try and get ready.
"The kids are tired of practicing. When you're in the swing of games, they know they'll play on Tuesday and Friday, but back-to-back practices without a game isn't easy. I think it's tough for them to be focused."
Wichita Collegiate boys coach Mitch Fiegel understands. That's why he was glad the Spartans played host to Dodge City on Saturday.
"We thought it was very beneficial," said Fiegel, whose team improved to 5-0 and is ranked seventh overall. "I thought it gave us some motivation over the break to come in and practice."
Collegiate had two-a-day practices last Tuesday and Wednesday, in addition to practicing Monday, Thursday and Friday.
"We had seven practices before that game," Fiegel said. "It gave us a great deal of continuity. We had that carrot — we weren't practicing for no reason. Then to have a quality team like Dodge City come in, we had to make sure our practices were on the right track."
Last week also was the first time Collegiate had practiced more than two days in a row for the first time since the season began. The Spartans were limited early because the football team completed an undefeated season with a Class 3A title on Nov. 28 and the first basketball game was Dec. 4.
"Until we hit our second two-a-day (last week), I don't think we felt like it was basketball season yet," Fiegel said.
Neither Kapaun or Collegiate has it easy this week. After handing Dodge City its first loss, Collegiate hopes to do the same tonight when it plays host to Halstead (6-0, ranked fifth in 3A). Collegiate then plays Sterling (5-1) and Nickerson (5-1).
And Kapaun plays at East, ranked third overall, on Friday.
"It's important to get off to a good start," Pearson said. "It sounds like we do have the toughest schedule (in the City League) off the bat."