PALMYRA, Mo. (WGEM) -- It's a new year but that doesn't change the uphill climb the Missouri boys basketball team has faced annually in the McDonald's/Herald-Whig Classic.
The Show Me State has only won twice in the game's 34-year history.
Palmyra head coach Ryan Wood will lead Team Missouri and knows the task will be tall but says his team won't back down.
"We look forward to it being a very tough ball game. But maybe these guys can come out and surprise somebody," Wood said.
"They play hard (and) they're getting along really right now. We're looking for the best."
According to Highland's Keetan Johnston, "I was pretty excited (when selected). I knew the Illinois side was going to be pretty good this year and I look forward to playing against them."
What Missouri lacks in size they hope to make up for with speed and athleticism. A strong perimeter presence, coupled with Clark County's Chandler Bevans and Mark Twain's Grant Peters ability on the inside, gives them a punchers chance, and they are eager to take their chances this weekend.
"Being in the game and getting to go out on a bang, because I'll never get to play this sport again, is really exciting to me," Palmyra's Peyton Plunkett said.
"I get to go out and get to do something I love is good for me."
Bevans added: "I'm excited to play with everyone. Everyone here is a great player. That's why they're here. I've known some of the guys for a little bit though because I played with them before. It's a really good opportunity."
Quincy University's Pepsi Arena once again plays host the doubleheader with the girls game at 5 p.m. and the boys contest to follow.
You can listen to both games on WGEM Sports Radio.