Defending champ Waynesville team to beat.

(Editor's Note: This is one in a series of team profiles for the US Bank/Rolla High Boys' Basketball Tournament. Today: The Waynesville Tigers.)

It's become a simple process in determining the favorite in the boys' basketball bracket of the 27th annual US Bank/Rolla High School Holiday Tournament.

If the Waynesville Tigers are in the field, they are the favorite.

And the Tigers are in this year's field.

Waynesville will be attempting to win its fourth consecutive US Bank/RHS Holiday Tournament championship next week. The tourney is slated to be held Dec. 26-28.

This year the tournament will be played out at two different locations.

The first round and semifinal games of the boys' bracket will be held at the Gale Bullman Multi-Purpose Building at Missouri S&T on Thursday, Dec. 26 and Friday, Dec. 27 while the championship round is set for Saturday, Dec. 28 at the Rolla High gym.

The eight teams that were in last year's field return this year.

In first-round games Dec. 26 at S&T, Warrensburg meets Francis Howell Central at 3 p.m., Festus takes on Rogers, Ark. at 4:30 p.m., Waynesville plays St. Joseph Benton at 6 p.m. and Rolla faces Fulton at 7:30 p.m.

In boys' bracket games on Friday, Dec. 27 at S&T, the Waynesville-Benton loser plays the Warrensburg-Francis Howell Central loser at 3 p.m. while the Festus-Rogers loser plays the Rolla-Fulton loser at 4:30 p.m. and in semifinal games the Waynesville-Benton winner plays the Warrensburg-Francis Howell Central winner at 6 p.m. while the Festus-Rogers winner meets the Rolla-Fulton winner at 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Dec. 28 at the RHS gym in the boys' bracket, the seventh-place game is set for 11 a.m., the fifth-place game at 2 p.m., the third-place game at 5 p.m. and the championship game at 8 p.m.

Waynesville has been in the US Bank boys' championship game in six of the previous seven years, winning the title in 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2006.

In last year's title game Waynesville defeated Warrensburg in a battle of the Tigers 57-42.

Waynesville went on to finish with a 15-13 record last season, returning to Rolla for the Missouri Class 5 District 10 Tournament and also reaching the finals there before having its winning streak in the RHS gym ended by Washington in the district championship game.

And this season Waynesville has the look of an improved squad. So far the Tigers are 4-0 and are ranked No. 10 in the Missouri Class 5 state poll.

Over the weekend Waynesville won the Rogers, Ark. Tournament.

The Tigers, coached by former Licking all-stater and University of Missouri-St. Louis All-America and head coach Chris Pilz, are huge.

They boast a front line of 6-8 junior forward Juwan Morgan, 6-7 senior forward Kellieon Williams and 6-5 senior post Javante Armstrong.

Waynesville guards include 5-9 sophomore Joe Johnson, 5-9 senior Michael Thompson and 5-10 senior Jaron Alexander.

Morgan is one of the most recruited juniors in the state while Williams is also a Division I recruit. They lead the team in scoring at 20.8 points for Morgan and 15.5 points for Williams.

Johnson averages 14.5 points and Alexander 7.3 points.

Armstrong, who averaged 12 rebounds per game last season, is slowly rounding back into form from a knee injury that cost him the latter part of last season.