Greetings all and welcome to Duerrisms for the Week of January 19th. Been somewhat limited this week by a nasty bout with the flu so this is column will be a bit more abbreviated than planned. Blame it on the NyQuil....
We are presented here, as always, by our good friends at Quincy's GAMEMASTERS, who are celebrating their 10th Anniversary in style this week. St Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny is coming to the Gem City for an autograph session on January 22nd. The signing will take place at the store between 6:30 and 8:00pm. The event is completely free of charge but patrons will be limited to one item each and there will be no individual photographs allowed. This is a golden opportunity for local Cardinal Fans to have an audience with the Redbirds Skipper. And when you are out at GAMEMASTERS, be sure to thank Don and the gang for all they do for the local area.
We are kicking into high gear here for the 2013 edition of the KHQA/SUBWAY Superfan Shootout, one the true "set your calendar by it" events of the Sports Season. In partnership with our friends at Subway, Quincy Notre Dame, and Superfan, we have built you a really compelling slate of twelve games this season; and in so doing, created one of the best dollar values you can find. One ticket gains you entrance into 12 games. Come and go as you please. Cherry pick the games you most want to see. Do some shopping and come back to the gym at your leisure. Or stay All Day with us at The Pit and roll like the Die Hard Fans we know you are. For the latter folks, we've got all the good food and entertainment you would ever need without having to leave campus at 10th and Jackson. Tickets are on sale now at all participating schools. You are honestly doing yourself a disservice if you are a basketball fan and miss this event. But don't take my word for it. Below I have posted a list of the past participants who have graced the Gem City with their presence over the years..as well the names of esteem from this season's event you will have a chance to tell people that you saw in action. Scan that list and you can see for yourself what layer of talent The KHQA/SUBWAY Superfan Shootout attracts. Honestly, every year I read through that list it makes me proud that KHQA can be associated with helping to put on such a showcase of great young people for the Tri States to enjoy. And believe you me, we will have much more to come next week in breaking down all the matchups for you in this years event.
Lest, I forget...we are giving you a chance to match wits prognosticating the outcome of this year's KHQA/SUBWAY Superfan Shootout event with the rest of the Tri States as well as myself, Ross Green, and Celebrity Guest Expert Jack Cornell. Just go to the top of the KHQA Sports Page at ConnectTriStates.com, click on the icon for the Superfan Shootout and make your picks. And we will see just how smart a fan you really are....or just how dumb a fan I happen to be.
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, stories as they break in real time on Twitter, impromptu movie and music reviews, incessant whining about the worst franchise in Professional Sports and my unconditional love of them: the Sacramento Kings. Feel free to hit me up there any time with questions, comments, or life advice (heaven help you if you are looking for the later) as Twitter is usually the easiest place to catch me these days. Also, we operate a Facebook Page ( http://www.facebook.com/KHQAChrisDuerr ) where I run polls and impromptu chat sessions to gauge your opinions of the topics of the day in local sports. Hope you can lend us your expertise for the on-going Sports and Wrestling Seasons by checking in there often and participating in the votes.
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 LAST nominating session is in March, at which point we will pick our final 15 honorees from the pool of seniors. The window of opportunity to nominate a deserving applicant is closing fast. We don't want to miss anyone in the process and sincerely hope you will help us out in that spirit.
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, QND Football
Week Seven: BRENDAN ROSS, Louisiana Basketball/Football/Golf/Baseball
Week Eight: ETHAN BORROWMAN, Pittsfield Baseball/Basketball/Cross County
Week Nine: PEYTON GRUBER, Paris Basketball/Softball
Week Ten: ALEX DIETRICH, Quincy High Volleyball
Week Eleven: JAKE VOSS, Payson Seymour Basketball/Golf
Week Twelve: BRODY GRONEWOLD, Illini West Basketball/Football/Baseball
Week Thirteen: TRACI KELLER, Central Lee Basketball/Volleyball/Track and Field
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)
KHQA SUBWAY SUPERFAN SHOOTOUT
February 1st and 2nd-Quincy Notre Dame High School
2013 Participants with standing College Commitments
JORDAN FRERICKS, QND (MIZZOU)
ASHTON WILLIAMS, Springfield (AIR FORCE ACADEMY)
KASSIDY GENGENBACHER, QND (LINDENWOOD)
ARAI'YA DADE, Quincy High (JOHN WOOD CC)ã??
2013 Participants garnering College Recruiting Attention
KENNY LESLEY, Elsberry (Wisconsin, Creighton, Missouri State, Central Michigan)
JAKE CODDINGTON, Alton Marquette
PAXTON HARMON, West Hancock
MATT MCPHERSON, Quincy Notre Dame
JACKIE KEMPH, Rolling Meadows
ALEXIS GLASGOW, Rolling Meadows
D'TAE MCMURRAY, Alton Marquette
JORDAN FLETCHER, Quincy High
EMMONIE HENDERSON, Louisville
ANNE MARIE HARTUNG, Texas
CHAS MCFARLAND, Wake Forest
TAYLOR MANUEL, Purdue
TORI NIEMANN, Western Illinois
JENNA MUELLER, Saint Louis
MIKE SMITH, East Tennessee State
DONALD LAWSON, Western Michigan
BRANDI TIPTON, Ole Miss
OLIVIA LETT, Southern Illinois
MARLEY HALL, Western Illinois
MIKAL BENCOMO, SEMO/Maryville
ANTONIO TOPPS, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
ALI SCHWAGMEYER, Charleston Southern/Quincy University
CHLOE BARNES, Ball State
BRANDON MCCANN, Rockhurst
JESSICA REDD, Truman State
MATT PATTERSON, Truman State
CORNELIUS CHATT, SIU-Edwardsville
KARLEE GENGENBACHER, Minnesota State
EVAN MCGAUGHEY, Quincy University
BRIANNI PUNI, Illinois State
BRITTANY CARTER, Ball State
DEVEAN OMOHUNDRO, Missouri-St Louis
TIFFANY KING, Illinois College
RYAN STUCKMAN, Quincy University
JULIAN JOHNSON, Missouri S&T
JON GILLIAM, Central Missouri
DALTON HOOVER, Quincy University
CIERRA YOUNG, Quincy University
TORI KUHN, Lindenwood
BRAD HAMILTON, John Wood Community College
KHQA Boys Basketball Power Poll
Still undefeated as of this writing, though it feels like about half of the Tigers 15 wins have come at Highland's expense. From a versatility and scoring standpoint standpoint, the most potent starting five in Tri State Basketball as everyone in that rotation is capable of scoring 15-20 points on a given night. Unselfish basketball team with a true emerging big in Gabe McKenzie, who must continue to play smart and stay out of foul trouble to keep these guys viable long term. There just isn't much in the way of legitimate size beyond him here. From a pure entertainment standpoint, this might well be the most entertaining area team to watch on a given night.
2) QUINCY HIGH
The Marian Catholic loss, or at least the lopsided nature of it, was a little disconcerting, but leave it to the Blue Devils to bounce back in a major way with the home court win over seventh ranked Rocky on Friday. It truly was the epitome of a team win as neither Martin Kvitle nor Mason Fairley had anything resembling their typical scoring outputs, yet Quincy High found what it needed thanks to a career game from the rising Jason Salrin, a flurry of Zach Burry at a critical moment, and Mason Fairley delivering the two biggest buckets of the game in overtime for his only points of the night. Give the Devils their due: this team finds more different ways to win games and seize upon critical opportunities than anyone else in Tri State Basketball. When the Blue Devils dictate tempo, they are a ridiculously tough team to beat. To be honest, in that respect, I seem some unique parallels here between the success QHS has had playing when minimizing mistakes and playing within itself to the same things that WIU has done really well under Jim Molinari. Just a masterfully played hand to this point by Sean Taylor.
Alex Fitch has been a tremendous talent since he hit the varsity roster as a Frosh and he rightly gets high marks for his skill set and his leadership. What too few people ever talk about his his toughness. Let's face it, over the course of the last few years he's seen some of best contact future Division One Football Stars Nick Severs and Dalton Keene have doled out in their hardwood guises and gotten right back up without ever flinching or saying a word. Or giving any quarter. To be honest, I thought last weeks Jacksonville/QND game (which was among the most highly anticipated on my calendar this year) devolved into a disappointing mess and both teams lost their composure at points. But the one thing I took away from this positively is that QND delivered a statement that it won't be roughed up or cowed or shy away from the physicality that will likely mark the 3A playoff grind. We knew that going in from Jacksonville, a team comprised of some of the toughest hombres around. QND showed similar tenacity and backbone, playing against type mind you, without coming off cocky either. The game turned hostile and QND better rose to the occasion by not losing its sense of purpose. Granted, I would have preferred a prettier, more artful display of what these two outstanding teams have to offer on the basketball court but at the end of the day QND won a very hostile game and that is a powerful statement from a team that top to bottom might already have the best roster in Tri State Basketball.
The trip to The Pit wasn't the Crimsons best basketball moment either, though I do certainly understand some of the frustration at the nature of some of the early calls in that game; particularly an early foul on Dalton Keene that robbed us of seeing him play the rest of the first half. To JR Dugan's credit, his team seemed to learn from that less than stellar "hostile climes" moment and has responded far better this week in "hostile climes" at Chatham Glenwood with some of its best basketball of the year. When it's going, the Crimsons are as a good and inside outside mix as it gets....with a fantastic maestro orchestrating the whole thing in Josh Peak. On just about any lesser talented team, Brendan Barlow or Payton Dugan could be a Paxton Harmon volume scoring threats. Here, there are two of them, and they are long and gifted and a pain in the neck to guard. Plus you've got all that quality size inside and Peak constantly threatening to break down a Defense and clean up easy points at the Charity Stripe. This is not the team that you want to allow to gather momentum...or that you want to see riding a hot streak coming into your gym. They just pose too many unique matchup issues, even for elite level teams. Provided...they stay out of foul trouble and on task.
Between Iowa City West and Mount Pleasant, I am not sure anyone will see a tougher week in these parts. And it hasn't been pretty for Jeff Dahl's crew. By the same token, this team showed its true colors by running the Hancock County Tournament Table (in Warsaw no less) against a very difficult degree of difficulty. I don't care who you are but if you cause a West Hancock team sporting a nine point lead to unravel in the fourth quarter, you have to be a pretty good basketball team. And I still think Keokuk is very much a work in progress at this point. I still think Jeff Dahl is finessing his bench and trying to figure out what he can reliably count on night to night. But playing at Max-Q, the Chiefs have imposing interior play, a stretch swingman in Dan Williams who can beat you with pure athleticism, and one of the best pure shooters in the business in Jonny Dahl. How it all fleshes out around said parts is the key to future progress here.
6) WEST HANCOCK
A disappointing finish to the HCT aside, the Titans have still amassed 16 wins this season despite the fact that everyone on the planet knows exactly what they are trying to do offensively on a nightly basis. So explain to me exactly which Paxton Harmon Defensive gambit has worked this season? Deny him the ball? Gimmick Defense? Short of giving his ankle the Jeff Gillooly treatment, defending that kid has been a fool's errand. It's Reno Pinkston channeling his inner Pete Adkins. In pure Jeff City Football style, you know exactly what's coming and the Titans defy you to stop it. Again, there are some depth issues here (as Coy Dorothy's injury revealed last week) but West Hancock at its best just continues to best use the cards on the table and that's proven good enough to beat some really good teams. Just ask the Unity Mustangs this past week....
A Championship showing at Winchester masks the fact that the Eagles have been a little off over their last six quarters of play (second half against Payson and in the upset loss at home against red hot Griggsville/Perry) Still, it's also mid January and like a couple of good teams in the area, the Eagles might have been primed for a mini-swoon. That aside, I really have come around on this group going forward, especially as Michael Blewitt is starting to emerge as a true big stage performer. Couple Blewitt's mettle at guard with a relentless interior presence in Ike Murfin, who just battles and fights and carves out ground and has become one of the most effective safety nets in Tri State basketball for bad shots and missed assignments. And Andy Douglas has really fleshed out his rotations, particularly with Michael Mast and Connor Wolf among those stepping up their games.
The Next Level
9) ILLINI WEST
10) FORT MADISON
11) PAYSON SEYMOUR
13) KNOX COUNTY
15) MARION COUNTY
18) WEST CENTRAL
19) SOUTH SHELBY
20) HOLY TRINITY
24) CLARK COUNTY
BIRDDOGGING THE TRI-STATES
(A list of seven athletes we've seen in our travels this who have raised the bar on their games and impressed our staff)
LUKE ROSS, Clark County
Look, I am a football guy first and foremost and am an easy mark for Defensive Ends with this level of overall athleticism. But the kid can flat play some basketball. There is a sudden-ness here to his game, particularly in going to the Offensive Glass you just don't see very often and he is incredibly fluid. Watching him torment Palmyra in the Lenzini Tournament Semifinals was a revelation as no one could keep him off the boards or from finding ways to score baskets. Fascinated to see what Canton, not exactly a team blessed with front line size, does with him/Kyle Kovar this weekend in the Lenzini Title Game. Not predicting an upset but that is a matchup issue for the Tigers, without question.
KENNY LESLEY, Elsberry
Hit Louisiana with a 30 point, 12 rebound, 11 block, 4 steal, 2 assist effort earlier this week and followed it up Friday with 31 more (and a pair of spectacular dunks) in the Indians comeback win over North Callaway on Friday. The 6'9" Super Sophomore is getting Division One looks from several pretty darned decent Division One programs and I have it on good authority that the Mizzou Coaching Staff has recently been made aware of his presence as well. Kid puts on quite a show. If you have an opportunity to see him, I'd amonish you to take advantage.
DALTON DEETER, West Prairie
Got my first chance to watch the Cyclones in person on Friday and while this still has a ways to go to get into the upper tier of Tri State Basketball, there is definite improvement here. Bigs Ethan Peterson and Chance Burkle are capable post weapons but it was the long range sniping ability of Dalton Deeter that really could my eye. Kid is an effortless shooter from distance. The Cyclones are starting three underclassmen right now, including juniors in Peterson and Deeter. Methinks the future is going to get significantly brighter in a hurry.
TAYLOR BURDETTE, Central Lee
Not a new name here by any stretch, but the Central Lee Lady Hawk Pivot deserves a shout for fashioning a rare 20/20 game this week and coming up just one board short of breaking Angie Shinstock's school record of 23 rebounds in a game. Miss Taylor has always been a talent, but I really like how devoted she has become to cleaning up the tiny flaws in her game. And just how relentless she has become both on the boards and in changing shots. Good to see a talented kid working hard to maximize her natural basketball gifts.
CAITLIN MCCLAIN, Bowling Green
We've seen a lot of good this week from Bobby Spoonster's Bobcats, who look like the odds on favorite to win the Tony Lenzini Saturday night. And while it's easy to get caught up on the luminous all-around play of versatile post player Kelsey Scherder, it's been the entire cast here which has elevated in our eyes. Nice to see big contributions this week from the likes of Briana Bixby and the speedy Kylie Conrow, but the kid who really caught our attention was Caitlin McClain, who brought great energy and moxie to the Bobcats efforts in beating Palmyra. Defends hard. Got to a lot of trash rebounds. Made great hustle plays. All the really good stuff that never shows up in a stat sheet but makes an entire team better.
TERESA SHEFFER, Hannibal
She has been as fun to watch as any point guard in the area this season and while Hannibal still has a few rungs to climb as a team before becoming an upper level threat, Sheffer's ability to knock down jump shots, get into the passing lanes and cause havoc, create spacing for her teammates, and create some transition fun here has made the Pirates and infinitely more entertaining team to watch this season versus last year.
LUCAS HOWARD, Scotland County
Apparently, no one in Shelby County can stop this kid from scoring because he has been torching the North Shelby Tournament for 20 plus point nights with great regularity. I haven't seen the Tigers in person yet this season but Howard deserved some love here for adding some spice to the Tiger's exploits in bouncing back to win the NST Consolation Title this week.
A pair of great recruiting gets this week for John Wood Softball Coach Jim Schlager, who brings in two lynchpins from the state qualifying Knox County Softball Squad in Devin Gudehus and Bailey Couch. Couch was the Kirksville Daily Express Player of the Year, an accomplished catcher with real pop at the plate who hit .500 this season with 34 RBI in leading the Lady Eagles to a 4th Plate State Finish. Gudehus brings legit power to the plate after hitting six home runs for the Lady Eagles in a senior campaign that also saw her bat .410 in the middle of the lineup.
Western Illinois Kicker/QND Alum Patrick Smith is strongly considering a transfer; seeking to use his football skills to set him up for the opportunity to gain entrance into a really strong post graduate program in Finance. Smith has a visit set up this weekend to the University of Nebraska. He also has other options working and hasn't closed the door on a return to WIU at this point either. Per Pat, everything at this point is in the exploratory phase. Smith did not miss a single PAT or Field Goal this past season. He's also one of the smartest, most together young men you will ever meet and it's good to see someone in his position savvy enough to use football to get a leg up on his career goals in the business world.
Jacksonville Tailback Andy Mills, a First Team All Do or Die Selection as All Purpose Back this past fall, is graduating early from JHS and enrolling at Belleville-Lindenwood to play football. Tremendous kid. Incredibly versatile. But now fear for the future of his eyesight playing on that horrific Candy Cane Carpet.
A friend suggested this week that I should hold a yearly award to celebrate "The Stupidest School Board Move" of every calendar year. I am afraid 2013 may already be spoken for. Alton Marquette opted to part ways this week with Tim Nelson, who just happened to lead his team to the State Quarterfinals this past Autumn. In his five seasons at Marquette, Nelson led his program (not exactly a renowned powerhouse prior) to a 33-19 record. In 2012, the Explorers finished as Prairie Conference Champions with a 10-2 final record, just the fourth time in 85 years Alton Marquette reached double digit victories. According to the Alton Telegraph, Tim was told that he wasn't being brought back because the school wanted to move in a different direction; namely having coaches who also serve as teachers at the school (which Tim did not.) Have a hard time buying that a guy who won .634 percent of his games and shaped the lives of young men was that expandable at the altar of shifting Administrative Policy. But I guess this is the world we now live. I suspect Tim will remain unemployed slightly longer than Rob Ryan. Great coach. Great guy. And we wish him the best in finding a situation where his contributions will be truly appreciated. Clearly, Alton Marquette will never be that place based on this kind of decision making.
If only there was/might be a Ric Johns "triple option" style program in the Tri States that was/may be looking for a new head football coach soon. Heck, said "hypothetical program" might not even have to change terminology or the playbook in hiring Tim Nelson. Hypothetically speaking...of course...
Judging from his Twitter feed, sounds like Keokuk Big Man Kendall Clark is strongly leaning towards the idea of playing college basketball at Mount Mercy. The 6'8" forward, who leads the state of Iowa in Class 3A rebounding, is expected to visit the Cedar Rapids campus this weekend, per head coach Jeff Dahl.
For what it's worth, the Iowa City West team I saw dismantle Keokuk at the Wright Fieldhouse on Tuesday might be the best High School Basketball time I've seen in person since the Wayne McClain glory days at Manual.
Haven't seen a crowd at Western Hall like the one that turned out in force for Western Illinois/SDSU on Thursday since the old Class A Supersectional Days in Macomb. The final attendance tally, 4163, was the largest at the hall since the Indiana Hoosiers came to Macomb back in 2005. Was this a fluke "one-off" or are the greatly improved Leathernecks turning the tide and winning over more casual basketball fans with a far superior product. We may get our answer as early as Saturday, when undefeated Conference Leader North Dakota State hits Waste Management Court for a critical contest.