67
      Friday
      80 / 65
      Saturday
      80 / 65
      Sunday
      83 / 64

      Gazing into the Roundball Crystal Ball....(Duerrisms Boys Basketball Preview)

      Greetings all and welcome to the final Duerrisms of the Fall Sports Season. Hard to believe it has flown by so fast but here we are on the edge of Basketball Glory with only Central-Southeastern and Concord Triopia alive on the grid to keep my dreams of avoiding Black Friday Shopping Trips at bay. I beg of you fine gentlemen in Camp Point and Arenzville...spare me that fate.

      As always, we are grateful here for the patronage of our sponsors at GAMEMASTERS, which makes this column possible.

      Here's the lay of the land for the next few weeks as we try a little something different this winter on the Football Wrap Up side of things. Because of CBS/ABC programming, it has become increasingly more difficult to get a full hour of prime time in recent years to air The Do or Die Show. Thirty minutes might be easier but you fine people can attest that when it comes to high school football, I can't even say hello in 30 minutes. So we are going to try a new experiment this fall with KHQA Awards Week, which I think we are targeting for December 3rd through 8th (or December 10th through 15th...either way, I will let you know as soon as I know.) Every night during that period, we will unveil our Major All Do or Die Awards starting with Coach of the Year, then Illinois Offensive and Defensive MVP, same for Missouri/Iowa, and then finally our KHQA Player of the Year segment during OVERTIME to end the run. As far as the Do or Die Teams themselves, we are going to announce those on Saturday as well through an extended, now Super Sized Internet Companion in this space on Duerrisms. There are two advantages to this new format. One, I am not stuck in an edit bay for three weeks hunting video, which gives me more time to devote to the Internet Companion. And two, you don't have to wait all the way until Christmas Break to find out our award winners. We will be asking your opinion on the new format after it airs, that way we can figure out which way we want to go with this endeavor in the future.

      A reminder to all you social media users out there: you can follow me on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/ChrisDuerr ) for instant feedback, scores as the happen, and stories as they break in real time. We also post material to our Sports Facebook page ( http://www.facebook.com/KHQAChrisDuerr ) which is a really easy way for you to interact with us with questions, comments, or story ideas you would like to see. Hope you will take advantage of both formats.

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      KHQA STUDENT ATHLETE OF THE WEEK presented by CELL TECH, PETERS HEATING and AIR, and SUBWAY

      Now in its eighth year of existence, the KHQA Student Athlete of the Week Award celebrates the best and brightest examples of achievement in Tri State Athletics. Every Wednesday Night at 6:00pm, we will profile a deserving senior selected from a pool of applicants by our independent nominating committee. It's a look beyond just their highlights into the mindset and determination that make these young men and women successful in all that they do; a reminder to all of you just how much good there is out there to be celebrated in this generation. And at year's end, we will once again award scholarships to the top boys and girls scholar athletes in our area.

      If you know of a deserving senior who sports a minimum 3.5 GPA, please contact your high school athletic director and have them fill out a form on that student's behalf. Or help expedite the process yourself by printing a nomination form from our website (which can be found on the Student Athlete of the Week Page) and turning it in to your local athletic director so that they can submit it to us. Our next nominating session is in Early December, at which point we will pick 12 more honorees from the pool of seniors. The window of opportunity to nominate a deserving applicant is closing fast. Our committee next meets December 10th and then only once more after that. That final meeting is the most competitive of the year so don't delay. We don't want to miss anyone in the process and sincerely hope you will help us out in that spirit.

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      2013 HONOREES

      Week One: DALTON POWELL, Hannibal High Football/Basketball/Baseball

      Week Two: INDIA GREEN, Quincy High Volleyball

      Week Three: JILL HARRIS, Beardstown Softball/Volleyball/Basketball

      Week Four: CARLI WATSON, Hannibal Volleyball

      Week Five: HANNAH TRUMP, Clark County Softball/Basketball

      Week Six: NICK WEIMAN, Quincy Notre Dame Football

      Week Seven: BRENDAN ROSS, Louisiana Golf/Football/Basketball/Baseball

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      Past Scholarship Winners

      2012: ALEX WALTER, Central High (Augustana College)

      TORI KUHN, Quincy Notre Dame (Lindenwood College)

      2011: JACOB CONLEY, Central High (U.S. Military Academy at West Point)

      DAKOTA FLESNER, Payson Seymour (John Wood Community College)

      2010: MICHAEL LAFFERTY, Illini West (Monmouth College)

      TAYLOR BAXTER, Palmyra (Illinois State)

      2009: MATT PATTERSON, South Shelby (Truman State)

      CHLOE BARNES, Quincy Notre Dame (Ball State University)

      2009: LUKE GUTHRIE, Quincy High (University of Illinois)

      2007: KATELYN BASTERT, Illini West (Duke University)

      2006: MIKAL BENECOMO, Clopton (Southeast Missouri State)

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      BASKETBALL 2013

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      Sneak Peek: KHQA Boys Basketball 2012-2013 Preseason All Do or Die Team:

      Preseason POY: PAXTON HARMON, West Hancock

      He's got one Tri State Scoring title already to his credit and there's no reason to expect that the West Hancock Swingman, who has gotten bigger and stronger this season, will slow down any time soon. While I expect Harmon to get challenged all season long for the mythical "top area player" mantle from a leg-rested Alex Fitch (read: no football) and a now fully healthy Josh Peak, there's no kid in Tri State Basketball who is asked to do as much or fulfill as many roles as Harmon does for the Titans. Paxton plays some mythical hybrid of Point Guard/Traditional Wing/Power Forward for Reno Pinkston and despite the amount of Defensive Targeting he commands, no one has figured out a way yet to slow or stop the kid. He has become one of the mentally toughest and savviest kids in Tri State Basketball, almost out of necessity and the demands that Reno Pinkston has placed upon him. The West Hancock Coach has consistently demanded more of Paxton with every level he's reached in this game and in doing so has cultivated and coaxed more of a Tim Parrish-type approach/intensity from a prospect who actually had better had a better raw palate of attributes to work from than the former Nauvoo benchmark player. To put it simply, if Paxton continues to assume that mantle of intelligent play/toughness/every possession max intensity at a Parrish type level, Reno has built himself an even more frightening basketball monster here. There were signs last year that clearly that was happening, beyond just the gaudy averages. I have an strange feeling that the Paxton Harmon we saw last season, as good as he was, will be a pale comparison in the all around game department to the one who debuts next week in Augusta. And it make take that kind of performance to cement a POY nod because the competition at the top of this field, particularly in a year with such great front court depth is ridiculous.

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      1st Team

      Center: Kenny Lesley, Elsberry

      Forward: Alex Fitch, QND

      Forward: Josh Peak, Jacksonville

      Guard: Martin Kvitle, Quincy High

      Guard: Royce Poore, Knox County

      Sixth Man: Greg Pitzer, Louisiana

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      2nd Team

      Center: Brent Long, Routt

      Forward: Gabe McKenzie, Canton

      Forward: Corey Barnett, West Central

      Guard: Jonny Dahl, Keokuk

      Guard: Derick Smith, Highland

      Sixth Man: Brody Gronewold, Illini West

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      3rd Team

      Center: Matthew McPherson, QND

      Forward: Andre McClure, South Shelby

      Forward: Dan Williams, Keokuk

      Guard: Dryden Craven, Griggsville-Perry

      Guard: Jake Voss, Payson-Seymour

      Sixth Brock Butler, Palmyra

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      BOYS PRESEASON POWER POLL

      1) PAYSON SEYMOUR

      As always, we weight our rankings based on a team's ability to win a State Championship against the given schedule it plays. That, in effect, levels the playing field between big schools and small schools and takes into account strength of schedule. And under that scale, this ranking reflects that we feel that Brian Rea's Indians are the team with the best chance to hoist championship gold. If it seems like a bold call for me to so apologetically back a team that graduated its top two players from a season ago in Aaron Edwards and Landon Epperson, then you clearly didn't pay much attention to Summer Basketball. The Indians were an absolute juggernaut, playing one of the most ambitious and well traveled slates of any team in reason memory. And they beat all comers. Well constructed team with a little bit of everything. Gage Klitz is a DeAndre Jordan type inside in that he is lanky and athletic, runs the floor, can change shots and finish at the rim, and doesn't require offensive touches beyond clean up buckets off the offensive glass. He's a perfect fit piece here around all the endless guard "types" Brian Rea has cultivated. Huge fan of both Jake Voss and Cody Hildebrand after watching them in expanded roles this Summer. Not only are both really dynamic players who give you everything at both ends of the floor: both kids play the game with great intelligence and total unselfishness. That may be my favorite thing about this Payson squad: the make the extra pass and they genuinely look like they enjoy playing together. There is great chemistry here and some incredibly intriguing young pieces in this mix. All that will sort itself out. The biggest reason I like these guys so much here is there is just a real joy these guys seem to take in executing roles. That is rare and because of the chemistry and work ethic here, the Indians could be very special for the next four years. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

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      2) CANTON

      The road to Columbia in Class 2 Basketball is a minefield, especially with Cairo and super-scorer Brad Roberts on the Tigers Sectional radar (again) and a ridiculously loaded Salisbury team lurking beyond that. But strength of postseason schedule is the only real drawback I see here for a team that beguiles me with an intriguing array of attributes. I've said it once and I will say it again, Andy Anderson is a top echelon coach in Tri State Basketball. He's also got, in truth, four starters back from a team that gave Cairo everything it wanted at Schuyler County last February. Granted, the graduation of Nick Janney is a huge loss on paper, but in reality last season, Andy Anderson only had "the real" Janney for three weeks prior to Christmas break. And that injury, at least going forward, forced the Tigers to play younger players sooner. In effect, then, the biggest minus from last season's roster is Garrett Serbin's graduation. And in his stead, the Tigers appear to have one of the most dynamic young bigs in the area waiting to get minutes in Sophomore Gabe McKenzie, who is just incredibly lithe and energetic. Between McKenzie and Tyler Niemann, Canton will boast two of the most athletic forwards in Northeast Missouri...and that might not even been the strength of the team. Guard play is enviable here with Austin Hoewing, Brandon Berhorst and David McReynolds already proven commodities as double digit nightly scorers. The genius of this team is that Andy Anderson may have five guys average around 12 points a night, which is going to make them exceedingly difficult to defend. Granted, there isn't much depth here and not a ton of size but this will be a pesky, hard nosed team with five guys who have A+ mobility at every spot on the floor. Good luck defending that my friends....

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      3) QUINCY NOTRE DAME

      In full disclosure, I view these guys in nearly the same light I viewed Jacksonville Football this past fall: supremely coached, bewitching talent pool, brutally difficult road to their goals. Hard not to love a team with a proven Franchise Player (Alex Fitch) a 6'9" emerging center (Matt McPherson) and more good guards than I can remember seeing in any one program at one time, including returning starters Chris and Nick Dietrich and scrappy Sam Douglas playing the Jason Terry role here. Scott Douglas has an endless array of matchup possibilities here and the ability to attack opponents in waves. The Raiders third set of guards are good enough to star and start for most area programs. And things get even more intriguing if McPherson continues his improvement trajectory at center and the Raiders can cultivate some complimentary size behind him. Look, the kid was barely scratching the surface of what he could do last season but when McPherson was at his best, he showed some rare skills around the rim at both ends of the floor that make you want to buy in without reservation. Point blank: his ceiling is really a nice luxury. Noble Peters and his tricky shoulder are apparently healthy and that is a nice addition. Expect Fitch to take on more duties in the post as well at times. There is just a lot of artillery here and Douglas is as good as they come in sorting things out. The concerns, you ask? This team had a maddening penchant at times for stringing together clunker games at points where they looked nothing like the talent pool would have dictated last season. And of course, making headway towards Peoria isn't going to be remotely easy given the resistance the Raiders will catch, likely starting as quickly as the Regional Championship level. But again arming Scott Douglas with this many toys and giving him five months to construct a plan of attack with them is a dangerous proposition for those who oppose QND's aims.

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      4) WEST HANCOCK

      I go back to last year's KHQA Superfan Shootout win over Missouri Powerhouse Salisbury and I see in the Titans a team ready to really emerge. Lets ignore the two givens here for a second in Reno Pinkston and Paxton Harmon. The Titans return nearly every other piece from last year's 21 game winner. There is some cultivatable size here in Parker Gibbs, who got some polish and should be able to build on some of those better moments he had last season. There is also sneaky-good athleticism here with kids like Austin Hardy, Jesse Espinoza, Jesse White, and Coy Dorothy. Those kids don't pass the eye test as basketball players the way you might want (read: less than prototype size or basketball frames in nearly every case) but there are great assets in all of those kids be it Espinoza and White's burst, Hardy's incredible hand-eye coordination, or Dorothy's savvy and toughness that Reno Pinkston can extrapolate and build upon. I would argue that Reno's greatest strength as coach over the years has been his uncanny ability to coach away from "flaw" more than anything else. Outside of the 1998 team, has Reno really ever had a roster that other coaches envied for sheer athleticism, size, shooting ability? And on second thought, there were some chinks in the State Title team's armor as well. Pinkston is like the gourmet chef who takes the ingredients other cooks might shy away from and makes the meal more than the sum of its parts. Only this time around he's got a Kobe Steak to accent the meal in Paxton Harmon. There's some really unique architecture to this team, but I am betting the final product is going to be really hard to play against and improved, especially in terms of ball movement and creating easier, higher percentage scoring opportunities. Don't sleep for a second on these guys.

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      5) ELSBERRY

      The last team standing in Tri State Basketball last season loses a ton in the graduations of All Stater Scott Kroeger and Matt Loesing. Don't bank on a collapse here. Sophomore Kenny Lesley may rival Josh Peak right now as the single most gifted basketball player drawing breath in our area. He's not nearly as polished Jacksonville's emerging Division One recruit yet, but given his immense athletic gifts, Lesley's ceiling might be the highest we've seen in Northeast Missouri since The GOAT was doing work in Vandalia. Lesley's minutes are about to double after coming off the bench as a freshman and the lane is now wide open for him to go to work. He will also have the luxury of working with one of the area's most athletic backcourts in football speedster Charles Fraction and much regarded Sophomore Point Guard Rahiem Porter. Ryan Parker has some questions to answer with the rest of his starting lineup and some depth issues. By the same token, these guys will get up and down the floor as well as any team we've seen in a long time when all this gets to Max-Q.

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      THE NEXT LEVEL

      6) JACKSONVILLE

      Crimsons can throw an All Division One Front Line on the floor if J.R. Dugan so desires with Powerhouse Tight Ends Dalton Keene, Blake Hance joining Hardwood revelation Josh Peak (who gets to the free throw line like a modern day Adrian Dantley) on a team rife with talent everywhere. The Crimson will also have plenty to play for in the wake of Assistant Coach Bobby Hoffman's passing this off-season. Unfortunately, Jacksonville's drawback is a schedule that is as brutal as any we will see this year from any team thanks to the talent minefield that is the Central State Eight.

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      7) WEST CENTRAL

      All he does is win games, every year. It's not always the prettiest brand of basketball but Jeff Abell is a master at playing to strength (befuddling defense/just enough scoring to win) and creating chances for his team's to beat anyone on a given night. Any team with Corey Barnett is going to be a burden to deal with in the blocks; a fearless warrior in the paint who plays big every single night; even when playing taller opponents. Guard play is critical here, but I do like the athleticism and potential of Austin Boehs going forward. And Abell always scares up a surprise player or two who emerge somewhere along the way; usually as underclassmen. Just a team I never want to bet against.

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      8) KEOKUK

      This is a real boom or bust pick. Jeff Dahl lost a lot from last season. He's also got three potentially A+ players at their given position, provided things fall right. There aren't many more imposing kids in Tri State Basketball than Kendall Clark at Center, who is as functionally strong in the paint as anyone in our area. Anxious to see how much his role expands. Dan Williams as a wing is one of the most underrated players in our area; a premier slasher with a deceptively explosive first step. And Jonny Dahl is a freakish talent as a shooter with incomparable range. The key here is the connective tissue that binds it all together.

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      9) PALMYRA

      It's Brian Meny Basketball and the the Panthers are ridiculously loaded in the backcourt, especially when you rationalize the skills here of Brock Butler and transfer Trevor Meny. In a best case scenario, these guys have an almost LA Clippers Chris Paul/Chauncey Billups feel with Point Guard A and 1A potentially on the floor at the same time. That is a wicked tandem. I suspect this is a team that will be able to run opponents into the ground and will be very explosive off the dribble taking the ball to the basket. The determining factor here may be just how well this team does in the half-court and how much Meny upgrades the consistency of defensive effort from last season. The Panthers don't lack for bodies and athletes. And Meny is a proven commodity in getting teams to buy in. The question is just how quickly it happens and comes together in P-Town with some new pieces and new philosophies. Full disclosured: this thing looked really encouraging when I saw P-Town in the Summer.

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      10) QUINCY HIGH

      This is might be too high given the front court questions Sean Taylor has to remedy; although a solid year from Connor Mellon likely dispels some of the murkiness in that scenario. And the schedule, as always is beefy. That established, I am enamored of the potential and depth of the Blue Devil backcourt and I like that fact that there isn't only talent at the Guard Spot, but savvy there potentially as well. Martin Kvitle is a luminous shooter, a heady player, and a burgeoning Franchise Player. Mason Fairley has some scrap to him. There are nights where Cole Abbey looks like the best guard in the region. He is easily the most explosive. Is he ready to sustain that level of production on a nightly basis? If so, this might be the nastiest guard core we've seen in years around here. The early returns on that dynamic guard were strong after the Blue and White Scrimmage. Lots there to like. Just waiting to see what Sean Taylor can coax out of an array of largely unproven front court pieces into production for the Blue Devils A.D. (after DeAngelo)

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      11) CLARK COUNTY

      Okay, we've established that Northeast Missouri offers a greater margin of scheduling opportunity than East of the Mississippi for long term success. So you figure someone here breaks out. Why not these guys? The Indians return four starters, outstanding athleticism (see also Egley, Austin and Prewitt, Logan) in the Backcourt and a front court that features two of the toughest football guys in the business in Kyle Kovar and Luke Ross to give the Indians a sort or Jeff Ruland/Rick Mahorn feel up front. The player who intrigues the heck out of me here is Chase Bevans, a legit 6'3" wing player who was luminous at the end of the season. Again, this is a roll of the dice pick but as risks go, this one makes a ton of sense to me.

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      12) LIBERTY

      It's Andy Douglas basketball and I have been on the Michael Blewitt Bandwagon since his freshman debut. Those seem two valid reasons to value this team alone going forward. The overall synopsis here hinges on the further development of a couple of key cogs, especially when you consider what this team graduated. Ike Murfin seems to be that under-radar big who might really turn the corner this season. He's got the frame to claim space anywhere he wants it and soft shooting touch. If he makes the leap, he pulls some of the pressure off other players in this mix, just because teams will have to sag into the post to take away Murfin's post abilities. Put simply, his defender is going to require help. Intrigued as heck by Cody Leapley as well, who offers a very versatile array of attributes in a 6'4" package. There is some athleticism here to exploit as well with Tyler Ormond and Brett Genenbacher poised to take on bigger roles. Again, when has an Andy Douglas team ever fallen down?

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      ã??13) HIGHLAND

      On talent alone, a top seven team in the area with Derick Smith, Brandon Davie, and emerging sophomore Austin Richmiller highlighting a very deep, athletic group. I was even more encouraged when this team started having some football success with many of these same athletes, which bodes well. To be honest, I have no idea how a coaching new regime and a new philosophy play out, however, and that X-factor I can't really weigh until we see this team play for a month.

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      14) KNOX COUNTY

      The Eagles may ultimately end up higher on this list, but this seems a safe landing spot preseason for a team that could either be boom or bust. Royce Poore is a tremendous, versatile talent; a returning First Team All Do or Die Pick who can flat score the basketball, be it from the post, the perimeter, or midrange. He's got the full arsenal. Zach Summers can surround the kid with terrific athleticism, as evidenced by the football kids who also enter this mix as well as jumping jack Scotland County Transfer Lee Tague, a 6'3" Senior who had to sit out last season due to MSHSAA Transfer rules. The mix here is really good. The onus of success may hinge on how well new point guard Ryan Strange assimilates in his duties.

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      15) GRIGGSVILLE-PERRY

      Tornadoes took a big hit in the interior with Clayton Myers graduation and I am not sure Todd Bradshaw has an answer for that yet. The kid was very productive and very unsung. Someone is really going to need to pick up that slack, particularly on the boards. I love the scoring potential here, however, with Dryden Craven and Matthew Kennedy as proven snipers here. This is an intriguing mix of returning and incoming talent. Just not sure yet how it all bounces together. In some ways, the Tornadoes may be the Western Illinois equivalent of....

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      OTHERS TO WATCH (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

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      HOLY TRINITY

      Mitch Moeller is a proven locomotive and one of the most underrated talents in Tri State Basketball. The question is how much of the load will he have to shoulder until a relatively young Crusader squad gets up to varsity speed?

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      MARION COUNTY

      This was the single most "specialized" team in Tri State Basketball in 2012, with every player fitting an ideal role. Which begs the question: what now post JJ Chatfield? There is a big hole in the middle here. That established, Kason Spratt, Clay Pollard, Reed Plunkett, and Logan Krigbaum give Ryan Wood ample perimeter fire power with which to attack. There are some matchup limitations here, sure, but you can't deny these guys will be interesting and viable on any night the shots are fallling...against anyone.

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      UNITY

      I am of two minds here. I really like the way Keith Carouthers kids play defense. And Reed Bentzinger is an absolute demon at that end of the floor. I also fear, however, that this team lost an absolutely transcendent player in Point Guard Matthew Duesterhaus and maybe he made this team better than it actually was. We will find out quickly.

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      LOUISIANA

      Outstanding Guard Play here with do-it-all Point Guard Greg Pitzer as the headliner. And this team is hewn full of gritty, tough kids. Post presence here is an incredibly big variable going forward.

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      WESTERN

      Among the most experienced rosters in Tri State Basketball...and now skippered by Pat Rafferty. If this doesn't sound like a recipe for a dark horse, I don't know what does.

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      ROUTT CATHOLIC

      Here's a team with all the ingredients to be incredibly scary and climb this list in a hurry, provided everyone stays healthy. Brent Long is going to give people fits with his skills and 6'5" frame in the paint

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      ILLINI WEST

      Brody Gronewold is a freakishly good athlete who can flat separate from a defender and could well challenge Paxton Harmon for the area scoring title. There's some size here as well.

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      PITTSFIELD

      Brad Tomhave is as good as any coach in our area, but coaching with out a "franchise kid" in his program for the first time in three years. That said, you know the Saukees will defend at an elite level and there are no lack of gritty guards here. My question is can this team score enough to win?

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      HANNIBAL

      Graduation hit no area team harder, robbing the Pirates of eight quality seniors. All eyes on Dalton Powell from here on out.

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      BEARDSTOWN

      My favorite sleeper going forward. These guys are plenty athletic, experienced, and might make the biggest surprise splash in Tri State Basketball this season.

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      CENTRAL

      Are Tyler Heimann and Marcus Landes ready to make the leap from prospect to top notch producers? If so, the Panthers starting five becomes incredibly thorny to deal with.

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