Greetings all and welcome to Duerrisms for the Week of February Seventh. Time once again to cue up the handy Inigo Montaya intro.
Let me explain. No, there is no time. Let me sum up: The Weather has been awful. School has been cancelled most of the week. I contracted a bout of laryngitis. That can only mean one thing....
IT'S KHQA SUBWAY SUPERFAN SHOOTOUT WEEK, everybody.
Nothing like a week of watching the weather forecasts gradually escalate from 10% chance of snow to 50% in seven days time to give your friendly neighborhood Sports Director an ulcer. The good news (knock on wood) is that Saturday's Basketball action doesn't appear to be in any way impacted by the weather. Our weather people have scaled back their concerns (I think they just want to eventually give me cardiac arrest for fun) and it sounds like we are in for good weather on Friday and nothing more than a slow dusting on Saturday. What better way to get out of the cold and shake off the cabin fever than to join us for twelve games worth of basketball fun over 48 hours. Tickets are available at the door only at this point for the Superfan and one low price gains you entrance to any or as many games as you like. The caveat on that statement is this: if you hope to watch any of the final four games on Saturday Night, you better be in the gym no later than 5:00pm because history dictates The Pit will fill up fast. And folks don't tend to leave the event once they settle in. So come on by. Enjoy our hospitality. Come talk and watch some great basketball with us. And make a day (or two) of it in The Gem City with us. You will be happy you did.
If you can't make it into the gym, be sure to catch the biggest OVERTIME of the year with us on Saturday Night at 10:30pm on KHQA. We will have wall-to-wall coverage of the Shootout as well as Regional Wrestling, College Basketball and all of the all the days events from a very busy slate of local sports.
Adding to the fun this week, it was National Letter of Intent time in the Tri States. The KHQA Sports Crew braved a lot of snow covered roads to bring you as many of the festivities as we could. You can find all of them on line here at KHQA.com if you missed anything.
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.
THE FINAL DEADLINE to receive a nominee and have them considered is this Monday at 3:30pm.
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
Week Fifteen: CONNOR WOLF, Liberty Cross Country/Track/Basketball
Week Sixteen: EANN DILLER, Camp Point Central Football
2014 KHQA/SUBWAY SUPERFAN SHOOTOUT...BY THE LETTER (CONTINUED)
N is for.....NO PICNIC
The Quincy High Blue Devils may be playing Small Class competition this weekend in the form of Hardin Calhoun on Friday and Mendon Unity on Saturday, but Demond Dade's team will be the underdog in both games. Hardin Calhoun comes in state ranked in Class 1A this week with a sterling 21-2 record and ample firepower. And mind you, the Lady Warriors have fashioned that impressive mark without the services of expected star Maddie Baalman, who hasn't played a single minute after tearing her ACL during Volleyball. Calhoun is loaded with size and youth, getting star turns from 6'1 Sophomore Emma Baalman, 6'2" Frosh Grace Baalman (they are cousins) and 6'0 Sophomore Kassidy Klocke, who is the sister of former Calhoun star Josie Klocke. We could be getting an early glimpse on Friday of a team with 2015 or 2016 Championship contention Basketball DNA.
O is for....OFFENSIVE OPPORTUNITIES MISSED
Cleary this has been a pretty strange year for the Pittsfield Saukees, who are ambling along at 7-13 after a heartbreaking loss at home to Griggsville-Perry last Saturday. Clearly, as anyone who has seen him play can attest, Wayde Smith is one of the most gifted and exciting players in all of Tri State Basketball to watch. What has been so vexing about this particular Saukee team, however, is that it has not been able to mount any kind of consistent Offensive Threat to go along with Smith on a nightly basis. You do a little calculating (factoring in the very solid Team Defense the Saukees have produced) and you find that if Pittsfield had just one other player averaging 10 points per game a night, it would result in a seven victory swing in the win/loss column. Basically, it means the Saukees are maddeningly close to being a much more dangerous team. And when they can find some flow, they are exactly that. Just ask Camp Point Central about that. Traditionally, Brad Tomhave teams have played exceptionally well in this event. Perhaps one more shot of "Pit Magic" (how ironic is that for Pittsfield team) will be the thing that gets this team going in the right direction before the post season.
P is for....POORE, ROYCE
Sometimes you do indeed get a second chance to make a first impression. Last year, we brought Knox County into the Shootout to showcase the dynamic, if little seen outside Northeast Missouri, Eagle Guard and Murphy's Law ensued. The Eagles looked like a team that got a late wake up call for the 10:30 tilt, proved leg weary after a big conference game the night prior, and ran into an absolute buzz saw in a Payson Seymour game that may have reserved its single best game of the season for the Superfan Shootout. Bottom line, Royce Poore and his very talented Senior Classmates at Knox County wanted a do-over to prove that they are in fact worthy of the big stage. And they will get it against a West Hancock squad that will make them work for shots. It may be the most "sneaky/interesting" game on the docket. Everyone knows how good Payson/Madison will be. This one may be a little undersold. Poore is a tremendous wing who has gotten significantly stronger as a finisher around the basket. He credits much of that elevated toughness to his stint on the gridiron. And he's got a much better ensemble cast around him with the elevation of Brady Johnson as a legit threat in the middle and dynamic guard Donovan Edwards looming as one of the more athletic kids in this shindig. The Eagles biggest Achilles Heel has been staying consistent against good competition. Saturday gives them a really fine litmus test going forward.
Q is for.....QUENNA KEATING
Great girl. Very unsung player for the Quincy Notre Dame Lady Raiders. And possessed of "the most fun to say" First Name in Tri State Basketball. Besides, just using this spot to talk about "Quincy Notre Dame" here was taking the easy way out for a difficult letter.
R is for.... RESTORED RIVALRY
Sure, the KHQA/SUBWAY Superfan Shootout is a big time, well attended event now. But it's only that way because the Clopton and QND girls made it so back in 2005 with a pair of classic one-point, thrillers in back to back years. The Lady Indians were at the height of their dynastic run back then with Mikal Bencomo and Brandi Tipton leading the charge and getting QND's full attention by stealing away a dramatic 73-72 win in their first meeting. The Lady Raiders returned the favor one year later in the rematch. Obviously, Round Three of this showdown find Eric Orne's team as the heavy favorites but the Lady Hawks remain plenty dangerous with the return of Shelby Dunn, who didn't see any floor time in the Superfan last February, and rising Frosh Ashtyn Lagemann posing significant threats.
S is for SUPERFAN MVPS
Unique Twist on this event is the awarding of Player of the Game Awards after every contest. I don't have a vote, which gives me free license to to try and predict this years winners here without conflict of interest. So here's my best guess:
QHS vs Hardin Calhoun Girls: Emma Baalman, Calhoun
QND vs Clopton Girls: Mary Beth Hugenberg, QND
QND vs Elsberry Boys: Kenny Lesley, Elsberry
QHS vs Unity Girls: Kaylee Kuhn, Unity
West Hancock vs Winchester Girls: Abby Lashmett, WC
West Hancock vs Knox County Boys: Brady Johnson, KC
Pittsfield vs Keokuk Boys: Brandt Ames, Keokuk
Illini West vs Bowling Green Girls: Elyce Trout, IW
Illini West vs Eastland Boys: Dalton Shaner, LE
Payson Seymour vs Madison: Cody Hildebrand, Payson Seymour
QND vs Danville Boys: Connor Hoelzen, Danville
QND vs Rolling Meadows Girls: Jackie Kemph
T is for....TITAN
It doesn't get the play it probably deserves because it was sandwiched right smack dab in the middle of a long day's worth of basketball, but I thought Shelby Koehler's 30 point take over last February in a 73-62 win over Routt was one of the great girls efforts we've seen in the last five years. In the first half, Koehler could not miss. In the second half, she just started unselfishly deferring to teammates; lest she could have scored 50 in that game. Clearly, this is a young lady who likes the sightlines in The Pit (she canned four of her team's 11 triples last year) and she's a big time competitor (signed for Softball at Emporia State to play for former Warsaw star Julie LeMaire) so if you are looking for a sleeper star this weekend, keep your eyes on the Titan Guard.
U is for....UBIQUITOUS
She is the girl that does a little bit of everything well. Cassidy Foley is Eric Orne's designated stopper and she will draw the assignment this weekend of trying to lock down the reigning Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year in Rolling Meadows Jackie Kemph. That may be the single toughest backcourt draw in the state, but that is just the unique reality of being Cassidy Foley. She has live feet and good speed and is averaging nearly four steals a game this season. She might be the one person who can stay in front of the warp speed future Saint Louis Lady Billiken.
V is for.....VOICES
If you can't make it to the game in person, please follow these great players by way of your local radio stations and support the good people who support your kids. I know that WCAZ, WBBA, WTAD, WGEM, and KOKX for certain will be originating broadcasts from The Pit for the teams that they ordinarily cover and all of these folks produce first rate broadcasts. If you haven't listened to them before, it's certainly worth checking out the call from some really talented folks who can make the game come alive. And we appreciate their collective support of this game.
W is for....WINTER BLAHS
Admit it...you are sick and tired of being cooped up in the house. Too many snow days is too much of a good thing. The best cure for Seasonal Effective Disorder is the KHQA/SUBWAY Superfan Shootout. And I am not just saying that. It's science. So get out of bed early on Saturday and spend the day with us. If you get to The Pit early enough...there might even be free breakfast in it for you.
X is for..... X-FACTORS
They may not get their names on the marquee but here are a few of the guys and girls in this year's shootout I really enjoy watching. For starters, diminutive Illini West Gunner Josie Finch has been as hot from beyond the arch as any player in Tri State Basketball for the last six weeks. She's liable to go nuts and knock down seven or eight threes in any given game. In keeping with the Hancock County vibe, do not discount kindred spirit sharp shooters Devin Rings and Trevor "The Sniper" Knipe for Reno Pinkston's West Hancock squad. Nor rising Keokuk gunner Dante Davis. Bowling Green's Tara Schuckenbrock has had a star crossed career in the injury department, but we had her as one of the three best overall performers during the week of the Tony Lenzini Invitational. If he's healthy....and he appears to be...QND's Tony Stella is the peskiest kid anywhere to be found in Tri-State basketball and he could agitate a Monk into fits of obscene rage. And I mean that as a complete compliment. The kid is a cerebral assassin. And while they kind of get glossed over in the excitement of Unity's youth movement, I really like the moxie of Whitney Murphy and Maggie Bowles "Chauncey Phillips-esque" ability to run a team. Just a few names to enjoy who might be slightly off your radar.
Y is for....YOUTH
We've already touched on Hardin Calhoun's stellar Kiddie Corps and the rise of Ashtyn Lagemann at Clopton. They aren't the only precocious underclassmen making early and significant splashes for their teams. Brad Begeman is playing three and four freshman/sophomores at a time, a group led by the plucky Kaylee Kuhn, who has some early hints of Tori Niemann to her game. I am also a fan of Jordan Hildebrand here, who has shown flashes of being a really bankable interior force in very short order. The QND Boys are also getting some nice splashes from the younger set. Carter Cramsey is going to be a really good, top of the area point guard sooner rather than later. Johnny Ray hit the area radar with his heroics in Pittsfield. Justin Bottorff has big time offensive skills and once his frame fills out/comfort level rises, he's going to be really tough to check. And don't forget Lady Raider Freshman McKenzie Foley here as well. So come see the future Today at the KHQA Subway Superfan Shootout.
Quincy High's Malique Robbins remains the top uncommitted Senior in the local Class of 2014. The reigning KHQA Illinois Offensive MVP, I am told, has had lots of interest but is strongly considering a Division One walk-on at this point to Illinois State. We will keep you updated
Illini West Fullback Leighton Johnson will continue his career "moving the chains" at William Penn. Johnson was the Chargers leading ground gainer this season with 1203 yards at a clip of nearly eight yards per carry.
Spoke with Quincy Notre Dame Quarterback Joey McCaughey this past week and he's still wading through the recruiting process. It sounds like Saint Ambrose may be the current leader for his services ahead of Monmouth and Illinois Wesleyan. Quincy University also was among Joey's suitors.
Speaking of the QU Hawks, Tom Pajic became the first college football coach I've ever heard on NLI Day say his number one recruiting priority was Quarterback. Clearly, the Hawks lived the gimmick signing a trio of signal callers, all from powerhouse programs: Rochester's Robbie Kelley, Mason Murray from Columbia Hickman, and Jacob Kaiser from Saint Joseph Central.
If you missed the news on Signing Day, former Pleasant Hill/Western All State Quarterback Matt Gunterman is transferring from Monmouth to Culver Stockton, where his brother Adam was a standout player. Gunterman is already on campus in Canton and along with newly signed Williamsville signal caller Josh Lindsay, gives the Wildcats their brightest future signal calling outlook in recent memory.
South Fulton alum Carly Beebe helped Quincy University rally from a 13 point deficit with a career high 23 points on Thursday to beat Bellarmine.
Pittsfield alum Marla Willard has 13 points and five rebounds this week for Monmouth in a win over Illinois College.
It's a strange time and day but if you don't have Sunday Night plans and love basketball, the nationally ranked John Wood Trailblazers will host the number six team in the country, Illinois Central, at 6:30 at Mountain Dew Court.