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      I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You...(Duerrisms for January 24th)

      Greetings all and welcome to Duerrisms for the Week of January 24th. We've nearly reached critical mass on the regular season basketball and wrestling and playoff time arrives in just three weeks. Lets just hope Winter releases her icy grip from the Tri States before the Spring Sports season blooms.

      It proved to be a very productive week around here amid all the Tournament Madness and Wrestling Fun. KHQA brought you highlights from 11 total games on OVERTIME last Saturday, not to mention almost six full minutes worth of wrestling coverage from the Quincy High Invitational. If you are a fan of high school and college sports in the Tri States, there is simply no equivalent of the 30 minutes of nothing but local coverage we bring you every Saturday Night at 10:30pm. We appreciate your patronage of that unique show and the local athletes who serve as its stars.

      The focus around here has been two-fold behind the scenes: preparing for the upcoming KHQA/SUBWAY Superfan Shootout on February 7th and 8th ( ) and trying to get the schedule ironed out for the 2015 incarnation of same. We think we've built you a really good weekend's worth of basketball this year and now our goal is, as always, trying to top it for the next go round. We've got ten teams involved at this point who are either State Ranked or are receiving votes in the latest polls, including three of the Top Eight Boys teams in Illinois Class 1A Basketball in Lanark Eastland (8th) Madison Prep (3rd) and top ranked Payson Seymour. Previews start ramping up in this column next week and on television beginning Saturday February 1st. And we hope to have some exciting news to bring you about the impending slate for next February shortly thereafter as well.

      DO or DIE BOWL invitations should start being mailed in mid-to-late February, after we have cleared the deck on the Shootout. As always, we kindly ask that if you receive an invitation, you let us know your intentions of playing (or not) by returning the pledge sheet so we can plan accordingly with our alternates list. Speaking plainly, there are a lot of politics I have to play in building a roster representative of every school in our area and yet still filling up every position we need. Please understand that if you don't get an initial invitation, it's not a slight on your talent but rather me trying to figure out how to fill out the numbers game in the most "encompassing" way possible. To wit, we've had guys who were fourth or fifth alternates win Game MVP honors. So please don't take it too personally. It's just the nature of that beast.



      The Tri State's premier high school basketball showcase fast approaches with a dozen games headed your way over the weekend of February 7th and 8th. And one low ticket price gaining you entrance to all twelve contests at The Pit on the campus of Quincy Notre Dame High School. We will have plenty in the way of analysis and matchup breakdown coming your way in the coming weeks here in this column.

      Our goal with this event has always been to try and spice up the late season slate with unique pairings and top notch talent. The list below gives some indication of the kind of talent we have been able to showcase in our gym over the course of the last decade. It's a list that becomes more and more pedigreed with each passing event.


      2014 Superfan Participants with standing College Commitments

      JACKIE KEMPH, Rolling Meadows SAINT LOUIS

      JENNY VLIET, Rolling Meadows SAINT LOUIS




      2014 Superfan Participants receiving Major College Recruiting Attention

      KENNY LESLEY, Elsberry (Iowa, Creighton, Missouri State, Central Michigan)

      DALTON SHANER, Lanark Eastland


      Esteemed Alumni:


      EMMONIE HENDERSON, Louisville

      KORTNEY DUNBAR, Tennessee


      CHAS MCFARLAND, Wake Forest

      TAYLOR MANUEL, Purdue

      TORI NIEMANN, Western Illinois

      JENNA MUELLER, Saint Louis

      NAKIAH BELL, Iowa State

      MIKE SMITH, East Tennessee State

      DONALD LAWSON, Western Michigan

      BRANDI TIPTON, Ole Miss

      OLIVIA LETT, Southern Illinois

      AHSTON WILLIAMS, Air Force

      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

      WILL CARR, Colorado School of the Mines

      JON GILLIAM, Central Missouri

      DALTON HOOVER, Quincy University

      CIERRA YOUNG, Quincy University

      NIA ROTH, Quincy University

      TORI KUHN, Quincy University

      KASSIDY GENGENBACHER, Lindenwood University

      BRAD HAMILTON, Missouri Valley

      PAXTON HARMON, John Wood

      BRODY GRONEWOLD, John Wood

      BREANNE BEGEMAN, Culver Stockton


      2013 Superfan Participants receiving Major College Recruiting Attention

      DEION LAVENDER, Alton Marquette (WIU, SIUE, Lindenwood)



      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.

      2013-2014 Honorees

      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



      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)


      BASKETBALL 2014

      KHQA Boys Basketball Power Poll


      Best passing/most unselfish team in Tri State Basketball...a very accurate depiction of the Tigers this week from a Northeast Missouri coach with a much wiser Basketball mind than mine dubbed Canton this week. Andy Anderson's team avenged its only loss of the season, in impressive style, with Highland Tournament Championship Game takedown of Palmyra. At this juncture, there is a whale of a Player of the Year argument to be made on behalf of Tyler Niemann, who has directed this warp speed offense with spot on judgement in balancing his own shots against the value of distributing to his talented teammates. Tough rope to walk but Niemann has done it expertly. I remain convinced that Cameron Durst is the most undervalued star in Tri State Boys Basketball; an elastic talent who gives you utility in all phases of the game and whose own athleticism at his size makes him a really tough cover. And Brandon Berhorst is starting to look like the healthy Brandon Berhorst again. The most impressive balancing act here, however, may be just how good a job Andy Anderson has done cultivating legitimate depth on a team that seemed a little shallow on paper prior to this season. Make no mistake about it. Every good stretch Geordan Hausdorf plays off the bench in support of Gabe McKenzie bolsters confidence in this team being able to weather that one nagging question: could Canton survive an extended stretch in a Red Letter game with McKenzie in foul trouble? There are still some kinks to work out here, mostly on the defensive end, but this is a team that hasn't lost a game at full strength this season and could well bolster its hold on this spot by winning a Lenzini Title on Saturday on its rival's home court.




      The loss at Keokuk had some silver linings, believe it or not. To be honest, I am not sure a team with this much firepower could have fashioned a colder offensive start then the ugly first quarter it delivered at the Wright Fieldhouse last Friday. The upshot is that the Hounds nearly fought their way all the way back from what seemed a game long double-digit deficit, in hostile climes no less. Jon Schmitz's crew is fighting through some "January Blah" right now, which is typical, but I haven't seen much here that dulls my enthusiastic vision for this team's postseason hopes. More than anything, I really love this group's work rate and toughness. It's not exactly a genius level observation to credit the Hounds for the arsenal of backcourt scoring potential this team brings to the table. But if you look a little deeper ( the guys without the basketball) you will find that one of Fort Madison's calling cards is that guys on the floor do a relentless job following the basketball and creating second chance opportunities after the shot. The Keokuk game will likely give Coach Schmitz a nice schematic to tighten up his perimeter defense going forward as well.




      Central loss on Tuesday snaps a 14 game win streak and gives Brian Rea ample ammunition in his never ending quest to get his kids to play tougher defense. And over the course of the last two seasons, Rea has proven as adroit as any coach in our area at maximizing the teaching values of a defeat. Suffice it to say these won't be fun practices in Payson the next few days but history suggests they will be incredibly effective. Bottom line, Central created too many high percentage shots on Tuesday night (47 of the Panthers 56 points came from the big guys on the floor) by deliberately and patiently moving the ball inside and banking the Indians would not contest position strongly enough. They didn't and Taylor Heimann, Zach Hibbert, and Jacob Eilers made the Indians pay for it. Central won by converting their own high percentage shots while forcing the Indians to too often settle for shots from above the free throw line in exchange. Suffice it to say, it was a decidely un-Payson like performance at both ends of the floor. I counted only one real textbook "work the ball into Hildebrand and let him work from three feet" possession in the entire first half. That's not exactly a recipe for success on this team. Nor was trying to be too cute or clever with risky passes or uncharacteristically careless with the basketball. I would not read much more into it than that, however. This wasn't a "collapse of Western Civilization" loss. This was an "outstanding team taking for granted a motivated opponent and not following script" defeat born perhaps of things coming a little too easy the last few weeks. Sometimes you have to get knocked down a peg to go forward. I suspect that the Central loss will do exactly that here. Brian Rea will have his teams full focus and a humbled Indians squad will get back to playing in its comfort zone and doing the things it does, when concentrating, better than anyone else: valuing possessions, converting opportunities inside out, attacking opponents at their source of weakness, and being nasty/pesky in half court defensive sets.




      The Winchester Invitational was quite the thrill ride for Andy Douglas and company but not in the way the Eagles skipper would have hoped. Between eighteen hour halftimes and Maalox moment fourth quarters, Liberty probably wasn't its better self at the WIT. What you like about this team is the guts it showed in dealing with adversity because the Eagles clearly never had their "good fastball" at any point during the week. If you are a Michael Blewett fan (and you probably should be) I'd say you could take his heroics from last week and put them front and center in your case for him as Player of the Year. His herculean effort in the West Central Quarterfinal contest might be the most inspired single game effort we've seen from any player this season thus far. Toughness (mental and physical) has never been a question with Blewett but I think we've gotten so used to watching this kid rise, it's easy to take him for granted. I thought Reed Wolfmeyer, though they were less celebrated, also had some very nice moments in Winchester in support of some of his more touted teammates. Beyond that thought I honestly just think it was a weird week for the Eagles. Speaking honestly, Liberty was kind of a sexy "upset" pick to win the WIT in our office given the sort of tight constraints in that small gym aiding the press, Liberty's ability to shoot the basketball, and the sort of back and forth nature of the Liberty/Payson rivalry in general. By the title game, the Eagles just seemed a little wearied for lack of a better word. At full strength, I still think this is a fascinating team with a very high end potential and even the roller coaster nature of last week did little to dim that outlook.



      I am probably more dismissive of the Panthers loss to Canton in Highland than others, for exactly the same reason I was kind of blasà about the Tigers loss to Palmyra in P-Town. Anyone who dismisses the injury absence of Jordan Nutt in Ewing doesn't understand just how vitally important that kid is to the scheme Brian Meny employs. The Hannibal defeat, however, was bit more illuminating. Post Defense is the Achilles Heel for this squad. On the right night, P-Town can compensate for that flaw with enough shooting and outlier offensive explosiveness. Heck on most nights they can do that since the Panthers can stretch a defense in so many different ways. But as we saw at times over the last fortnight from Austin Richmiller, Vincent Elder, and Dylan Powell, teams that deliberately slow the game down, go inside with toughness and ferocity and try to get to the line are going to give Palmyra fits that even a night of Brock Butler outright bombs or Trevor Meny creations can't allay. Maybe Matt Frankenbach's size and strength helps there long term. Or maybe Coach Meny finds a way to direct Bazil Keller's great energy and litheness inside into a great stopping ability. I think ultimately for Palmyra to be a team that reaches an Elite Eight or Final Four (and make no mistake, there is that ceiling here) something is going to have to give in that department. Bottom line, with deference to the aforementioned Fort Madison Bloodhounds, Brian Meny has to find his version of Wesley Bernhardt here to kind of better shut down the middle. Give the Panthers this, though: Wednesday's demolition of a very talented Bowling Green squad was the best exhibition of team defense I have seen from this program in years. If that becomes the norm around here, look out.




      I am willing to concede this team is flawed in construction. But whatever the roster "inadequacies" here may be, the Blue Devils just anted up one of the best weekends of basketball we've seen from any area team in a long time. Sean Taylor has proven masterful in playing "Dirty Harry" Basketball this season. If the cinematic adage that "a man has got to know his limitations" is true, the QHS Skipper has found clever ways to hide his teams soft spots and play to its own strengths. In this case, that is smothering foes with timely threes and finding ways to get them out of their comfort zone on Defense. Whether its Zach Burry, Alec Shoot, Carson/Cameron Gay or Lincoln Elbe, the Blue Devils have a host of capable "shoot you out of a zone" snipers on the perimeter. More importantly, QHS does a great job zipping the ball around crisply in the half court to get those guys good open looks. It may not be the sexiest style of basketball in America but if it earns you your daily bread, roll with it. And that's what Quincy High has done. Just as importantly, the spike in interior production from both Barnell Thomas and Connor Mellon that is providing nice counterbalance to the long range artillery. For whatever reason, this is a program that everyone seems to want to hit with slings and arrows if it isn't a bona fide Top Ten team in the state. Truth be told, I am more impressed with the fact that this is a group of guys who are determined to make their own basketball fortune, naysayers and critics be damned. And if that doesn't jibe with your narrative of what Quincy High Basketball should be, just remember that the MonRose team the Devils destroyed Saturday night is good enough and athletic enough on most nights to play with anyone in the state. These guys deserve more of your esteem.




      They still haven't hit Max-Q yet and suffered for it in Overtime against a rising Monroe City team in the Championship Game of the Clopton Tournament to fall to 8-2 on the season. Still the Dawgs at 85% effectiveness this season have still been a very tough team to beat. Personally, I think Derrick Branstetter is one of the most underrated coaches in Tri State Basketball and he's in the process of cobbling together a pretty salty team from some very talented pieces. The only missing ingredient here is seasoning; that Louisiana hasn't quite figured out how to put together four quarters of max effort on a night to night basis. When that happens, get out of the way. There is a lot here to like. Tristian Castiglia is gifted big man who finds ways to score the basketball. He might also be the best volume rebounder in Northeast Missouri right now and last I heard was averaging north of three blocked shots per game. More enticingly here, as a collective, Louisiana is as efficient a team scoring the basketball as any in our area. Obviously, that speaks to the fact that this team is doing an effective job feeding its cornerstone guys (Castiglia, Marshall Corbin, and arguably the biggest breakout talent in our area this season in Daylon Greene) in good, comfortable spots. From my vantage point, though, I am growing enamored of the immediate and long term future of two underclassmen who are growing into roles fast: Zach Richardson and Kendon Chatman who are the kind of guys who can make the difference between Championships and early season outs. This is a team that has had me bewitched, at least in terms of potential, since the preseason. And there may be more there than even I credited these guys for initially. I am tired of the darkhorse label. These guys are incredibly viable.





      Highly disappointed in the Tuesday Night postponement of Louisiana/Elsberry, which I think would have answered a lot of power poll questions here. Outside of the Rheed Leake miracle, the Indians really have the highest pedigreed win/loss record in Northeast Missouri.



      A lackluster open to the Lenzini Tournament killed the momentum here of a team that has as much upward momentum as any team on this list a few days prior. If the Panthers win a Conference or District title along the way, Kyle Fulton has to be a name in the POY discussion. Good complimentary weapons here too with Ritter, O'Bryan.



      The Eagles ground out an impressive, hard scrabble win over North Shelby on its home floor this week thanks to 35 points from the luminous Royce Poore. The Eagles have a plethora of viable, high caliber weapons (Poore, Brady Johnson, Donovan Edwards, and Ryan Strange) who are all capable of scoring 20 on a given night.




      It will be incredibly interesting on Saturday to see if the cagiest team in Tri State Basketball (read savvy and unflappable) can find a way to break down the flow of a Knox County Offense that is really starting to find its rhythm of late. Ryan Wood has a group of kids who simply believe they will win games every time they hit the court. And when the long range shots are falling, they have every right to.




      Weird loss to West Burlington last week has me kind of thrown as to exactly where to put these guys. Loren Menke's crew is comprised of a lot of guys who can shoot the basketball and find you points. And on at least two occassions now, that calling card trait hasn't really exemplified itself very well against opponents you would think the Crusaders would beat handily. I guess we toss HTC in the middle of the pool here and see what shakes.




      Wins over Palmyra and Knox County certainly belie the growing traction in America's Hometown. No area team may have a better combination of big men than the Vincent Elder/Dylan Powell faction down low; with the former looking like a an absolute paint warrior over the last two weeks. Give Mark Thomas credit. He's cultivated a nice vibe here that's starting to take root.



      The HCT Tournament Champs may be the most improved team in Tri State Basketball from November to now. Braden Bennett and Colton Mellinger simply hit shots. Nolan Ard wears the floor leader mantle like a champ. And IW is starting to do all the little things to find victories where they found ways to beat themselves six weeks ago. That goes a long ways.




      Controversial loss to Illini West, big win over Fort Madison show that Jeff Dahl's team is starting to find its post-holiday stride. Over-arching observation here: the Chiefs have a lot of guys from pivot to point guard who can flat shoot the basketball. And Keokuk has the ability to make stops, when it is so inclined. Unfortunately defensive consistency has been a bedeviling issue to date; not just game to game but possession to possession.



      16) MACOMB

      17) UNITY

      18) CLARK COUNTY

      19) CENTRAL


      21) WEST HANCOCK

      22) NORTH SHELBY


      24) BEARDSTOWN




      Jacksonville Safety/Rover DeVante Clark didn't need long to consider his options. Within hours of being offered a Division One Scholarship from Western Illinois, the talented Crimson Senior gave the Leathernecks his verbal pledge. Clark finished this past season with a team high four interceptions to go along with 56 tackles and three stops for loss.

      And while we are on the Crimson recruiting front, 2015 Offensive Tackle Gabe Megginson (who is carrying three stars from the Rivals Network) continues to attract suitors. This week, Megginson received a Scholarship Offer from the University of Missouri while on campus for a Junior Day visit. Later in the week, Minnesota joined the list of Big Ten Schools to offer the much sought after Jacksonville Bodyguard.

      Triopia Fullback Dean Arendt continues to garner attention from major college football coaches as well. I have it on good authority he met up with members of the University of Illinois staff this week.

      What a neat homecoming on Saturday for Winchester native Brett Moore, who will bring his Hinsdale South Basketball team to Blue Devil Gym for a showdown with Quincy High. I got a chance to talk with Brett's dad (longtime Winchester Coach Bob Moore for those putting the dots together) during the WIT Tournament last week who told me there would a large contingent of family and friends from Scott County in the stands on Saturday cheering for Brett and his team. I am also told that Hinsdale South will actually stop off in Winchester and conduct a shoot around there before making the final leg of the trip to Quincy. Brett is in his first year at Hinsdale South, having come over from Plano.

      The return of Matt Bilgri generated a ton of really good wrestling storylines last week, especially with the Quincy High product going on to win his weight class at the loaded QHS Invitational. But that isn't the only mat return you should be paying attention to at this point. Bryce Meyer's recovery has put the Fort Madison Wrestling Squad at full strength and that makes the Hounds a very dangerous proposition. Meyer is really a ton setter for his squad and one of the most relentless 126 pounders you will find anywhere. Between 120 and 152, the Hounds have become very, very salty all of a sudden and that should make them plenty fun to watch.

      We touched on it in Seeds of Greatness a few weeks back but the rise of Freshman Ashton Meyers with the QND Wrestling Program has been one of the winter's great unexpected story lines.

      They haven't really gotten much ink or fashioned an attention grabbing win/loss mark but could not help be impressed with the tenacity and work rate of the Clark County Lady Indians in their Tony Lenzini Semifinals loss to Palmyra on Wednesday. John Weaver's crew really played the loaded Lady Panthers hard at both ends of the floor and limited POY candidate Katee Hinkle to just eight points in an eventual eleven point Panther victory. There are some roster limitations here but I like that the girls play through them as a collective and do a diligent job moving the basketball around to create balance. Don't be surprised if these ladies pull of an upset somewhere along the line.

      Bowling Green, one of the largest enrollment schools in Northeast Missouri, has just seven girls basketball players on the varsity roster right now. Hard to fathom from a program that has traditionally been one of the most enthusiastic in area girls basketball over the last decade.

      Bowling Green alum Brandon McCann is currently tied for eighth in the GLVC in scoring. The Rockhurst Point Guard is averaging 17.1 points per game this season.

      It hasn't taken Shea O'Brien long to infuse a dynamic element to the the John Wood Lady Trailblazer Offense. The Pittsfield product is also already drawing attention from four year schools. A source close to the program tells KHQA that Washington University has already expressed considerable interest in Shea, who certainly has the academic credentials to thrive in that environment as well.

      If you haven't heard, the MacMurray Mens Basketball program, which features a pair of former West Central Cougar stars in Brady Slagle and Dylan Guthrie, is currently second in the SLIAC with a 7-1 conference record and 11-4 mark overall. Todd Creal has things apparently moving in a very nice direction in Jacksonville. Slagle is in the midst of a monster season. He's currently second in the league in scoring (15.6 ppg) third in rebounding (7.9 per contest) and fifth in the league in assists.