Survived a vicious head cold and the busiest Sports Saturday of the Winter. I'd say that qualifies as a pretty successful week, my friends.
Greetings all and welcome to Duerrisms for the week of January 16th. With the Holidays and Mother Nature's icy wrath behind us (we hope) the schedule has jumped up on us considerably. Lots of Tournament Fun the next few weeks and the best place to catch it all, every Saturday, is OVERTIME on KHQA. Give us 30 minutes and we will give you the entire local Sports World. It's coverage worth staying up late. More games. More highlights. More features on the Tri States best home grown athletes. Hope you will join us.
And speaking of OVERTIME, in just three weeks we turn that show into a showcase for our favorite basketball event of the entire year: The KHQA/SUBWAY Superfan Shootout; two days worth of the best and most unique matchups you will see anywhere this year. We will be coming to you, as always from The Pit at Quincy Notre Dame with twelve games worth of goodness. Our Superfan Link is now live here on our website: http://www.connecttristates.com/superfanshootouttickets/ with all the ticket info you will need. And while we will be talking about them in much greater depth here on Duerrisms in the coming days, here's a brief synopsis of why you should make plans to take in some of the action; a sort of cherry picker's list of the best times to be here: http://www.connecttristates.com/sports/story.aspx?id=982619 You will see great talent both from within our area at this event as well as a couple of highly regarded Division One recruits and powerhouse programs we import to freshen up the schedule every year. More than that, the Shootout is really a Basketball Summit; a chance for fans to come together from all corners of our area and meet, talk, discuss, debate and just generally have some good clean fun for one very low price. Heck, history has proven if you show up early enough, I might even buy you breakfast. Mark your calendar accordingly.
As always, I am available to you via e-mail at email@example.com to field any concerns, story ideas, or suggestions you might have as to how to make our Coverage better/more inclusive. Can also be reached on our Sports Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/KHQAChrisDuerr or via my Twitter Account. If you haven't tried Twitter yet, you really should. It's the fastest, best way to get local Sports scores and news as it happens and Will and I are constantly updating information there.
2013/2014 KHQA STUDENT ATHLETE OF THE WEEK PRESENTED BY SUBWAY, CELL TECH AND PETERS HEATING AND AIR
Now in its ninth year, The KHQA STUDENT ATHLETE OF THE WEEK program strives to honor the Tri State's outstanding Senior achievers. Every Wednesday, we will profile one Senior (minimum 3.5 GPA and participation in one sport) chosen by independent nominating committee for their outstanding accomplishments. And from that pool of 30 honorees, we will award one scholarship each at year's end to the Top Male and Female Student Athlete in our region. Our next committee meeting AND YOUR LAST CHANCE TO GET A WORTHY CANDIDATE CONSIDERED is February 10th. Your favorite High School Athletic Directors and Principals have forms in hand now. Or you can print one out from our website. Help them out by nominating/suggesting a deserving candidate you know from your community. Again, the minimum bar for inclusion is a 3.5 GPA and participation in one Sport or State Activities Board Recognized Activity. And because of the Scholarship component of the award, we can only recognize High School Seniors who graduate in May/June before our annual Awards Banquet. This is a highly competitive process and we are usually inundated with incredible candidates. In that spirit, I suggest that you get your nominee of choice into the voting pool as early as possible to get him/her as many different long looks in the process as possible.
Week One: MACKENZIE GROSSMANN, Mark Twain Softball/Basketball/Track
Week Two: MITCHELL NICHOLS, Hannibal Football/Basketball/Track
Week Three: LANE DAVIS, Unity Basketball/Football
Week Four: BRETT GENENBACHER, Liberty Cross Country/Basketball/Track
Week Five: ALEMA STONE, Macomb Football
Week Six: LUKE WATSON, Quincy Notre Dame Cross Country
Week Seven: BETHANY RAGER, Scotland County Softball/Basketball
Week Eight: MELANIE BLASE, Hannibal Volleyball, Basketball, Track and Field
Week Nine: ZACH BURRY, Quincy High Golf/Basketball
Week Ten: COLE PHILLIPS, Camp Point Central Football/Basketball/Baseball
Week Eleven: CASSIDY JOHNSTON, South Shelby Basketball/Softball/Track/Cross Country
Week Twelve: RACHEL MENCEL, West Prairie Volleyball
Week Thirteen: HAILEA HADSALL, Macomb Golf
Week Fourteen: GABBIE WILEY, Hannibal Volleyball
Past Scholarship Winners
2013: KASSIDY GENGENBACHER, Quincy Notre Dame (Lindenwood University)
DALTON POWELL, Hannibal High School (Truman State University)
2012: ALEX WALTER, Central High (Augustana College)
TORI KUHN, Quincy Notre Dame (Quincy University)
2011: JACOB CONLEY, Central High (U.S. Military Academy at West Point)
DAKOTA FLESNER, Payson Seymour (Iowa Wesleyan)
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)
KHQA Girls Basketball Power Rankings
1) QND LADY RAIDERS
You were expecting someone else? Be it record, reputation, strength of schedule, there really is no way to dispute QND's continued claim to the throne. Not that anyone would have the audacity to do so at this point. Oddly though, it dawned on me during the course of this week, that I have really only covered Eric Orne's team in person twice to date all season long. And I feel as though I have probably cheated myself in doing so in the interest of trying to get into every gym in the area and fairly spread our coverage around. My view of the Lady Raiders has been largely framed only by what I see from our other photographers work; and since all that stuff is edited down to the best highlights, I am not sure I have great feel for what this team is relative to the past Raider squads. In that spirit, that has become one of my goals over the next few weeks; given the ample viewing opportunities ahead and the fact that QND is the best money bet to be around the longest of our area teams at this point. At this point, this now is a list of things I think I know about this Lady Raider squad, subject to modification in the coming days. The first thing that resonates is the sort of pugnacious nature of this squad. Not in the fisticuffs sense obviously, but more that they just don't have any collective fear of anyone or really more accurately, any situation. I know this team is nearly unbeatable when Mary Beth Hugenberg is locked in and providing forceful post presence, which is more often than not these days. She's really become a nice source of low post scoring. I know that Kristen Gengenbacher is the most dynamic combo guard in the Tri States right now; a player who can get you anything your team needs or wants (distribution, perimeter shots, defensive breakdown, defense) at a given moment. I feel reasonably assured that this team has some of the best wing talent around with the uber-athletic Cassidy Foley and rising Frosh McKenzie Foley able to play catalysts. I also know that Eric Orne has done the best job of any area coach, boys or girls, cultivating depth. Quenna Keating would be a nightly double double threat on 90% of the other girls teams in our area for example. Here she's just another "great, we have to deal with her too" cog for opponents who feel like they are fighting a dream team. Anxious to see what happens in the rematch in a few weeks with Rolling Meadows. I love to watch this program get tested. And more often than not, it comes through with flying colors.
2) PALMYRA PANTHERS
They made a mockery of matchup competitiveness against a very good Macon team in the Highland Tournament Title game on Saturday, carving up the Tigers with ruthless abandon. Give Chris Parsons a ton of credit here. He took a talented, veteran nucleus and fused a wonderful Underclass Bench Mob to it that doesn't miss a beat when it hits the floor. Freshman Nicole Kroeger is a frightening combo talent who has early era Tori Niemann length/athleticism to her a game...and a very advanced jump shot. Haleigh Wosman came off the bench Tuesday and saved the Lady Panthers bacon in Hannibal with 15 points. And Kaley Augspurg has a credible handle and great floor vision. In combination with the Losson/Hinkle/Nix/Bross/Dietrich dynamic, that is about as good an arsenal of weapons as you will find West of the Missisippi. The girls really seem to play well together. And for my money, Katee Hinkle may well be my Player of the Year front runner at this point. She is the most capable and bankable long range shooter I have seen this season in my travels, boy or girl. Katee is an absolute assassin from the perimeter and backs it up with the ability to pump fake defenders and go to the basket or make the extra pass. She's got great across the board utility and she's the rare "shooter" who makes the effort to make her teammates better. There is a great deal of collective toughness here, particularly on the glass and in absolutely suffocating the passing lanes on defense. Granted, Palmyra isn't quite as outlier good in half-court defense but if they don't let you get into those sets (see also Macon) does it matter. All that is really missing here from the resume, and the one concern I hear is the lack of Big Game finishing ability. The Lady Panthers seemed to have rare "fall apart" moments against both Blair Oaks and QND that we don't see any other time. Still, I think it's far too early to paint this team with that brush just yet. This is still a squad that is cresting towards a higher ceiling and it has been impressive to watch.
3) ILLINI WEST CHARGERS
West Central Coach Brian Bettis may an interesting, unsolicited point about the Chargers while doing radio commentary during the Beardstown Lady Tiger Classic that I happened to hear on my drive to that tournament. To Brian's thinking, the unique thing about this IW squad, vis- -vis all the other Charger squads he's played against, is foul discipline; that the Chargers are savvier in picking and choosing their spots to gamble on defense. That doesn't mean more passive. It just means this IW squad doesn't amass cheap or silly fouls in bulk; slowing the game. To some degree, I think that suggests that Grant Suprenant likes his team best to win in a game played with consistent rhythm, meaning more overall possessions and more chances to exploit all the pieces they have in play. To my mind, IW has seven girls who could go for 15 or more on any given night, and that makes them such a tremendously tough matchup. More to the point, only two of those girls are Seniors. I think it was telling that people struggled so hard to vote a specific Charger to win the Terry Kennedy Award at Beardstown (ultimately, it went to Graci Bastert) because there was just so much clean balance here. And to be honest, Graci probably won the award more for moving the basketball than she did for any one big game. Granted, the Chargers don't have great size but I really am impressed at how well Sophomore Jenna Bryan projects length inside. And she loves to get on the offensive glass. Shelbi White is really the only traditional post this team has at this point. But then again, the Chargers probably are as comfortably a free form a unit, in regard to positions, as any around. Heck, I watched Suprenant run a lineup that was essentially four small forwards and a point guard against Brown County. And it worked, largely because of the give and take of the pieces. Michaela Gronewold is probably the purest scorer on this team, but when she struggled in the opening round of the Central Tournament, Josie Finch just started knocking down long range jumpers, and the Chargers as a collective re-calibrated and simply moved the ball in this direction. This is a very smart, highly unselfish team. And any team that can trot out Aubrie Carlisle, Jenna Bryan, Michaela Gronewold and Elyce Trout filling the wing is going to stretch defenses well past their comfort level. Just a very fun to watch and one whose strengths far out weigh and mask any of its perceived weakness. It's going to take some kind of punch to get these girls off the dance floor come February.
4) CENTRAL SOUTHEASTERN PANTHERS
Very much a fan of this team, though I think the CSE Offense lacks the sizzle factor that some of the teams above them on this list have. The Lady Panthers are going to patiently work the ball for good shots and they are going to do so with their opponents generally knowing that the best fit scenario is getting the ball in the hands of Abigail Janssen or Kara Twaddell for shots. The latter is a highly efficient long range sniper. The former is more of a mid-range threat. Both are very good at what they do. The rest of the offense comes, quite plainly, off pure hustle. Madison Steinkamp is a worker, and I mean that in the most complimentary spirt of the word. There isn't going to be much in the way of elegant in her scoring, but she will fight very hard every possession to get to a spot, clean up a trash rebound, or work through contact to make things happen. Kolby McClelland is probably the best young athlete of her size in the Tri States but like most Freshmen, she is still establishing herself on a nightly basis. Erin Flesner will score points, obviously but offense is really the least of the reasons we love her game. Dakota Limkemann has scoring upside as well from distance, but her greater calling card is distribution and keeping the offense going. Matt Long also has about a half dozen hustle types he will play as well who give great energy and obviously Chrissy Weaver, Emma Derry, and Jaci Higgins (whose first name is the bane of my broadcasting existence because it looks so much like Jacey on quick read. My apologies Jaci) are really good in that role. Bottom line, Matt Long plays a very deep roster and it's a group that finds a way to find points. May not always be pretty. And the upshot is it doesn't have to be. CSE is a favorite here because the level of defense is just so consistently good and intense. Credit to Long, who never rests in coaxing that energy on that end of the floor. And credit to Flesner, who is the toughest draw in Girls Basketball because she is so smart, driven, and has such quick instincts. This is a team that excels at making opponents look bad and that kids creates a wealth of victory potential. In a money game, this is the team with the best chance to disrupt, harrass, and ultimately beat you by making you work against type. And I see that as having incredible value going forward.
5) WEST CENTRAL LADY COUGARS
From a potential standpoint, these girls are very beguiling. But this is also a squad that scares you a little bit because the Lady Cougars haven't been very consistent. They've been prone at times to weak starts and very forgettable patches of basketball. Even Brian Bettis would admit that he himself isn't really sure what to expect yet from his team moment to moment because of wild variances in the level of play. All that established, at Max-Q these girls are an easy group to like because the possess a laundry list of things that coaches covet. For starters, there is a proven superstar here in Abby Lashmett, who is has a fantastic ability to score in the low post against defenders of all shapes and sizes. She's just a whip smart, very talented who happens to also be able to find the open player like a second point guard. The actual point guard here is no slouch either. Meghan Lashmett has the ability to play both in transition and in the half court game. She can sink shots, harrass on defense, and I really enjoy watching her play when she pushes the accelerator on this team. There are also a plethora of viable outside snipers for Meghan to work to, which gives the Lady Cougars the ability to play One in, Four Out in a way that will stretch even the stingiest defense to its limits. There is also the added silver lining of the potential emergence of Kennedy Sorrell, who has some interior gifts in her own ride, to step up and broaden the post presence of this team beyond just the Abby Lashmett. Again, the buzz word here is consistency. If these gals ever put it all together, look out.
THE NEXT LEVEL
Even amid Saturday's debacle in Ewing, it was pretty hard to disguise the fact that Chalee Britt is one heck of a talent. ????
7) SOUTH FULTON
These rankings were done, mind you, before Thursday's smothering of Central-Southeastern. Fearless bunch led by guard Kaity Perry and forward Sommer Burgard and as a collective Carl Beebe's crew does a terrific job moving the basketball. ??
The Lady Bombers have been all over the board in the early season. Bottom line, Macomb has weapons at the two most important positions on the floor in Point Guard Yanni Sadler and Pivot Kayla Vestal. It just seems like all the moving parts have yet to be properly synched at any one time.
Things start getting slippery here very fast. The Chiefs are very young (not a senior on the roster) and have had their share of up and downs to date, but are also three games over the 500 mark at this point and have shown some real growth potential. Obviously, Lakyn Boltz can sling it from distance, but she has become a better distributor these days as well. Trinity Jeffers and Paige Kayvan are a formidable emerging duo that opponents will have to counter for the next three years.
10) KNOX COUNTY
For my money, the team on this list with best "sleeper potential" and enough inside/outside options to break through in the second half of this season. Lot of different kids here who can hurt you on a given night between Elder, Dale, Watts, Dooley et al
12) BROWN COUNTY
13) MARK TWAIN
14) SCOTLAND COUNTY
16) CENTRAL LEE
18) WEST HANCOCK
Bizarre timing but Adam Brumbaugh stepped down on Thursday, midseason, as the Girls Basketball Coach at West Hancock. In a press release, Hamilton AD Dave Dion cited both personal and professional reasons for Brumbaugh's decision. The Lady Titans were 8-10 this season and Brumbaugh finishes his tenure with a 43-46 overall record in his three years since replacing the controversially ousted Ken Schuster. Just another weird twist in the saga of Hancock County Girls Basketball Coaching tenures.
West Central alum Brady Slagle continues to shine for MacMurray. For the second time this season, Brady is the reigning St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week. Slagle averaged 22 points and ten rebounds in two conference games last week. Slagle put up 22 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in a 77-55 win over Blackburn College. He then followed up with 22 points, (on 7-of-12 shooting) and eight rebounds in a 63-52 loss on Saturday against Spalding University.
Good to see former Southeastern/John Wood star Regan Bruenger back in the Tri States on Saturday...unless you were a Quincy University fan. Regan made a bit of a statement at the Hawks expense in tagging QU with 24 points to power Illinois-Springfield to triple digits and a win at Pepsi Arena...against a coach who opted not to recruit him. Look, recruiting is far too difficult of a gig for me to criticize any coach for picking one kid over another to fit their specific system. It's an inexact science at best. Still, always nice to see home grown talent doing well regardless of where it matriculates and Regan has always been a class act kid. So brava...
Not surprised, per se, but I do think the Monroe City title at Clopton this week shows that Brock Edris is moving the Panther program in a better direction on a quicker time table than most of us thought possible. This is a team that seems to have embraced the concept of assuming and being held accountable in roles far more than it looked like they would earlier this season. There's no question there are some pretty good athletes in this lineup but so often in the past, to be blunt, the Panthers looked like a team of really good cogs collectively working against each other and diminishing their own value. There's a ton to be said for the value of "buy-in" and these guys are now being rewarded for their sacrifice by getting some quality wins. And since all of you know the esteem in which I hold Louisiana, you can't argue Saturday's title victory for MC was anything but a Red Letter win.
Monroe City's Kyle Fulton joined the list of 1000 point career scorers this week during his tour de force MVP efforts in leading the Panthers to a Clopton Tournament title. It's interesting that we never really view Fulton through the same prism that we do other area basketball luminaries, largely because his teams have long struggled so much in the win/loss column. Every one, I assume, knows the kid is a pretty darned good three sport athlete. But so often in talking about the area's great basketball players, we all get collective amnesia in remembering to include guys from sub-500 teams on those lists. In that spirit, it was really nice to see Kyle get his due across the media board this week and have a moment that his career richly deserved; getting to stand front and center and apart from the crowd the way that guys like Cody Hildebrand and Michael Blewett so often do. This is a naturally gifted guy who has really worked hard on his game the last few years. See also his now considerable range and deft shooting touch. And he has certainly proven himself worthy of the accord.
In a similar vein, it was really fun to watch Austin Richmiller return to the fold for the host Cougars in the Highland Tournament and give his team their first two wins of the season. From a motor standpoint, Richmiller goes as hard as any big in the region. He is a relentless force to the bucket on post up moves and is one of the more natural offensive rebounders in the local pool. Kid also has remarkable soft touch around the basket and the ability to hit shots out to the high post. Obviously, his presence doesn't suddenly turn Highland into Canton, but the Cougars are a much more interesting team to watch and he is the rare big who makes the guys around him better.
Culver Stockton Tight End Chris Cunningham has been selected to be one of the 130 football players to participate in the USA Football Bowl on Monday in Hoover, Alabama.
Due to all the schedule changes in Missouri High School Football this season, including pushing the season start up one week, the Quincy Notre Dame/Hannibal series is temporarily on hold. Mark St Clair's Pirates will instead open this year with a killer twin bill that starts with a Saturday road trip to powerhouse MICDS in Week One followed by a showdown with Jefferson City Helias on short rest in Week Two. If nothing else, Mark St Clair will know exactly where he stands pretty quickly.