The battle of 148 takes place at Chirstopher tonight

By Steve Dunford 

In week five of the high school football season, Benton vs. West Frankfort and C-Z-R vs. S-V-W-W square off on the gridiron.

This weekend it happens on the hardwood.  As in football there is the “Battle of 148 travelling trophy” which goes between the two communities. The trophy is a road sign.

It does not matter the activity or sport, when the two teams get together, record books are thrown out the window.

On Tuesday night the Devils increased their record to 3-4 on the season by picking you a 76-58 win over the Johnston City Indians.  Christopher defeated Waltonville 55-45 Tuesday night to improve to 5-1.

Sesser Valier Coach Shane Garner had this to say about tonight’s matchup.  “Obviously this is one of the games we look forward to every year. There have been some great battles over the last couple of years and I expect nothing less than that tomorrow night. (Jared) Curry and (Bradley) Young are probably one of the better combos there are in Southern Illinois. They compliment each other nicely and Coach Stallman does a great job of getting them in position to be successful.

“We have been competing better in the last couple of games and I’m liking the progress we are making. Our defensive effort has increase and our offensive production has been more balanced. We are in a good place mentally right now and our boys are ready to tomorrow night.”

Here are some comments from Christopher coach Eric Stallman about tonight’s game. “Sesser-Valier is a very good team and play a lot of kids.  It is going to be a challenging game for sure and Curry getting injured in the Waltonville, game will make it even more challenging. Sesser-Valier has had a bit of a rocky start but after their win against Chester they look to be playing like everyone in the conference expected.”

Sesser-Valier can go 10 or 11 deep without missing a beat.   Young and Curry are the best one two punch in Southern Illinois, especially in class 1A.

Christopher has played a decent schedule but nothing in comparison the Devils.  Lukas Gunter is getting healthier as the season goes. He is the best 1A point guard in the south in my view, and when his minutes were limited it hurt S-V.

I have said all year for the Bearcats to be successful, Curry and Young has to stay out of foul trouble, especially if the game turns into a track meet.

If Curry is out, you might see the Bearcats turn into more of a half court team tonight.   For the Bearcats to compete, Young will have to play 32 minutes tonight.  If not, the Devils are just too deep.





Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament Parings Released

SESSER – The Parings for the Sesser Valier Holiday Tournament were released about an hour ago.   The Woodlawn Cardinals received the top seed in the event.  They will face the Zeigler-Royalton Tornadoes at 5:00 p.m, in a first round matchup.  All first round games will be played on December 26th.

The Christopher Bearcats (4-1) are the #3 seed, facing the Galatia Bearcats (2-6)  at 10:30 a.m.

The Sesser-Valier Red Devils (2-5) are the #4 seed and they will face the Waltonville Spartans in their traditional 8 p.m. matchup.

The Thompsonville Tigers (3-4) are unseeded and they face the #5 seed the  Cobden Appleknockers (6-4) at 6:30 p.m.

Below is the full bracket – sd




Steve’s Bracketology: The Sesser Valier Holiday Tournament

By Steve Dunford 

Panoramic view of Sesser-Valier high school gym last season.

Over the last week, I have been asked by a few people to share my thoughts on the seedings of the Sesser-Valier and Eldorado Holiday Tournaments.  They will be released in the next few days.

I am not a coach, so I do not get a ballot to seed the teams.  I am going to go 1-16 in case they seed the teams all the way through.  In the past, both tournaments list 9-16 as unseeded.

I love to hear your thoughts.  I hope this spurs some conversation. Franklin County teams are in bold.

Goreville (#1  4-2) –  The Blackcats gave A-J all they wanted in their own tournament banged up.  They are in the middle of a two week break, which could not come at a better time for Coach Todd Tripp.  I have watched Goreville a few times this season on film.  I will get to see them live, if the Lord is willing on Saturday night against West Frankfort.

Sesser-Valier (#2 2-4) –  You might ask why I have seeded the hosts so high?  I am going to pull a “Mo” on you by answering my own question.  They hung around with every team at DuQuoin in their losses.  A blowout win over Joe Hosman’s Massac County Patriots as DQ and leaving Chester with a 15 point win on Friday upped their seed a few notches.  It is no disgrace getting beat by Okawville by 20.  

Woodlawn (#3 3-3) –  The Cardinals had a very good weekend, beating Odin by 20 and Christopher by 10.  They just keep reloading and winning.

Christopher (#4 4-1) –  The Bearcats slid a few notches after falling to Woodlawn.  They were projected as my top seed going into the game with the Cardinals.  If Young and Curry are on fire, they can be cutting the nets down two years in a row. 

Chester (#5 5-2)  –  Like Christopher, they slid down a couple of notches, after the Devils beat them on their own floor over the weekend.  A fifteen point loss to Murphysboro would not have hurt them one bit.

Odin (#6 5-3)  –  Eagle Coach Tyler Mitchell is no stranger to the SVHT.  The Eagles dropped two in a row to the top dogs of the Midland Trail, Webber Township and Woodlawn.

Cobden (#7 6-4)  –  If I ever need an attorney, I want Appleknoker coach Rhett Barke representing me.   I love to watch him coach.  They about knocked off Meridian over the weekend.

Steeleville (#8 4-4)  –  Owen Gross is one of the better players in the tournament.  Whether they go left or right, the Warriors seem to always play four games.

Johnston City (#9 2-5)  –  This is a homecoming for Indian coach Scott Burzynski.  The coach can point to his #54 jersey hanging in the commons.  I have not watched them play, but it seems that JC gets better every time out.  They might make some noise.

Thompsonville (#10 3-4)  –  A fifteen point loss at Pope County probably cost them a top 8.  If the team shows up that played in the second half against Webber Township, the Tigers can spring an upset and move right. 

New Athens (#11 4-4) –  The Yellow Jackets are solid.  Jackson Heintz will be one of the better post players in the tournament.  They waltzed through the consolation bracket of the Christopher Tournament.

Century (#12 3-4) –  They had a decent Vienna Classic.  A loss Egyptian caused their stock to plummet.

Galatia (#13 2-6) –  A lot of people comment to me about T’ville and their big front line.  Galatia equally is as deep on the inside.  They lost their backcourt due to graduation.   The Bearcats picked up a nice win over Crab Orchard Friday night.

Marissa-Coulterville (#14 4-4)  The Meteors have a couple wins against private schools in the Metro East that are in the startup phases of their program.  Steeleville beat them by 30.  This is the reason for the low seed.

Waltonville (#15 2-6)  Their wins are against winless Z-R and Sandoval.  It is going to be a tough year for the Spartans.

Zeigler-Royalton (#16 0-6)  It is no secret the Tornadoes are rebuilding.  They came an eyelash from knocking off Woodlawn last year.  



Lady Bearcats move to 4-1 with BDC win over Trico

By Jim Muir

CHRISTOPHER — The Christopher Lady Bearcats improved to 4-1 on the young season with a solid 61-42 Black Diamond Conference West victory over Trico on Monday night.

 The Lady Bearcats led only 14-12 at the end of the first quarter but outscored Trico 26-14 in the second frame to open up a 17-point halftime lead – 40-23.

Despite the stellar 4-1 start Christopher Coach Seiger Shurtz says he feels his team has a lot of room for improvement.

“We’re a young team and we have a lot of work to do to get better,” said Shurtz. “We got some shots to fall in the second quarter and put together a nice run.”

Shurtz emphasized that the defensive end of the court is where he is primarily looking for improvement.

“Defense is clearly an area where we need to improve and work on,” Shurtz said. “If we develop the right mindset we will be able to execute on the defensive end.”

Christopher had excellent balanced scoring with four players in double figures. Courtney Hoppers led the way with 12 points followed by Andrea Miller, Jayla Williams and Lauren Kent with 10 points each in the victory. Rounding out the scoring Rebecca Henson had seven points, Maya Hewitt and Carley Young each had five points and Savannah Sherman added two points.

The Lady Bearcats (4-1 and 1-0 in BDC) will travel to Goreville on Thursday night for a key BDC matchup and then play host to Cobden on Saturday night.

ABV Jack: Christopher takes tourney title

CHRISTOPHER  The host Christopher Bearcats defeated Webber Township 66-60 for the Turkey Tourney title.

There are box scores for all the games.

Click on the link from Jack Bullock of A Baseline View.

Chirstopher defeats Waltonville in first round of the Turkey Tournament

Bryce Pratt Leads the way with 19 points in the victory

By Steve Dunford 

CHRISTOPHER, IL-  Right out of the gate last night this was a different looking Christopher Bearcat team.  Over the last three years they were a full court run and gun team.  I asked coach Eric Stallman about this he saidm it

Last night other than a few fast breaks, they were a half court team.  They move on in the winners bracket after defeating the Waltonville Spartans 57-42.

Bryce Pratt comes out like a house of fire burying back to back threes in the first quarter.  He scored 12 of his 19 points in the first nine minutes of the ball game.

Sophmore Bryce Pratt socres a team leading 19 points in the Bearcats win over Waltonville last night

It was all Pratt and Bradley Young in the first quarter as the Bearcats jump out to a 16-10 lead.

At the start of the second McKendal Malone buries a three and Gage Berkemeyer scores a bucket to cut the Bearcat margin to 16-15.  Young hits Pratt on a fast break then Gabe Motsinger hits a three to go up 21-15 at the 5:35 mark of the quarter.  Play slows down as Christopher goes into a zone late in the first half and the Spartans are not that aggressive in attacking it.  The Bearcats outscore Waltonville during this stretch 7-2. and both teams go to the locker rooms with Christopher leading 28-17.

I am still trying to figure out what was going on and why.  About the mid way mark through the third quarter the Spartans kept fouling hard, mainly Bradley Young and Jared Curry.

Waltonville was down 34-22 after a Malone three with four minutes and some change left on the clock in the third.  This is when the slew of fouls began.  Christopher was in the bonus of the 3:18 mark of the quarter and was in the double bonus at the 1:27 mark of the third. Christopher closes the quarter with 12 unanswered points, eight from the free thorw line to go up 46-22 after three.

Malone takes over like a house of fire in the fourth ratting off 10 points in 2:20, as the Saprtans cut the lead to 50-38.  Coach Eric Stallnman calls a time out, and the Bearcats go into a four corners.   The pace was much slower, as Christopher ends up putting away a 57-42 win.

I asked coach Stallman what his overall thoughts were about last night’s contest.   “I think it is very early in the year and there will be lots of growing pains. I don’t think many coaches are to worried about November basketball. It was nice to get a win and see that the two sophomores adjusted pretty well to varsity play. We are going to need to get more from a lot of our guys moving forward”

Bradley Young added 15 points in last night’s win over the Waltonville Spartans

Christopher moves  into a semi final match-up with Wayne City, who defeated Norris City-Omaha Enfield 96-72.  Wayne City placed.  The Indians placed five in double figures for the win.  Jakaze O’ Neal led the way with 20 points, Enrico Carbibetti 17, Remmington Henson 16, Dave Horton 13, and Travis Hickey 11.  The Leading scorers for the Fighting Cardinals were Even Healey the game high scorer with 25, Brandon Skaggs, 18, and CJ Richardson 12.

I asked coach Stallman what his thoughts were coming in against Wayne City,  “They looked good last night, but its hard to tell when they are playing against a team like NCOE that puts little enphasis on  playing defense. Wayne City has two quality move-ins and some good players returning from last year. It will be a very difficult game. “

Box Score

CHIRSTOPHER (57)  Pratt 6 2 1-1 19; Young 5 0 5-8 15; Motsinger 4 1 0-0 11; Saeger 2 0 1-2 5; Curry 0 0 4-6 4; Flowers 0 0 2-4 2; Hawkins 0 0 1-4 1  TOTALS: 17 3 14-25 57

WALTONVILLE (42) Malone 1 5 5-7 22; Beckemeyer; 4 0 0-0 8 Newwll 2 0 1-2 5; Webb 1 0 2-4 4; Banach 0 1 0-0 3; Haley 0 0 0-0 0; Tucker 0 0 0-0 0; Cobb 0 0 0-0 0 Pennington 0 0 0-0 0; Schimndt 0 0 0-0 0  TOTALS 8 6 8-13 42

Line Score

CHRISTOPHER (1-0)  16 -12-18-11-  57

WALTONVILLE (0-1)  10-7-5-20-42


Turkey Tourney Preview: The Wayne City Indians

Wayne City Coach Jeff Morris sent this to me he said it was from a local paper where he filled out a questionnaire.  I assume the Wayne County Press

How many starters did you lose from last season?

We lost four starters and some valuable players off the bench.  The lone returning starter from last year’s team is Jaxon King.

Who, if you have an idea yet, do you look for to fill those roles?

I look for Senior Remington Henson to step into a starting position.  He is a big body that should supply a solid inside presence.  Transfer  (Overton High School, Memphis, TN)  Jayzale O’Neal (Junior) is extremely quick and has great court instincts.  I look for him to share duties at PG with King.   Juniors Dane Horton and Dalton Smith are both high energy players that are very athletic.  Sophmore Travis Dickey has really improved and will be able to spread the floor with his ability to shoot.  Junior, Nate Barbee is a high energy defensive specialist who should be able provide depth at the guard position.  Foreign exchange student Enrico Carbonetti has been impressive in practice and has shown good instincts on both sides of the basketball.  Several other players will provide valuable minutes in the rotation.

What areas do you look to improve on from last year?

Wayne City was really good last year.  To try and compare a team with so much experience to a team with so little varsity experience returning would be a little unfair.  Ultimately, we are going to work hard and try to get better every day.  Best case scenario, we are playing our best basketball by seasons end.

Who do you see being leaders on this team?

I look for King to be our floor leader with his previous varsity experience and high basketball IQ.  I also look for O’Neal to help lead the team, he has already shown his ability to communicate and help other players in practice.  Henson will also supply senior leadership for the team.

What style of game do you want to play this season?

On the defensive side we want to pressure the ball and play tough hard nose defense.  Offensively we would like to push the basketball in transition, but look for a high percentage shot if nothing is available on the break.


What are some goals you have for this season?

We haven’t really sat down and talked a whole lot about team goals for the upcoming season.   I believe most teams’ main goal for season is winning a Regional Championship and see what happens after that.   I think competing for MTC Conference among other tournaments would be our secondary goals.  I just try to tell the kids to work hard and get better every day.

What are the biggest challenges you face coming into a new program?

I would say the biggest obstacle is that everything will be new for both the kids and me.  I didn’t get hired until after summer contact day period and didn’t have any days to work with or see them play. The kids are learning a new system and how I expect things to be done.  I’m trying to learn about all the kids and their strengths and weaknesses.  Trying to do this and have a game after 2 weeks of practice is tough.  The kids have had a great attitude about everything and are working extremely hard.

What are you looking forward to the most, coming into a new program?

I enjoy the challenge and the process of being a part of a new program. The kids are extremely excited about what we are trying to do.    It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but if the kids continue to work we should have successful year.


Steve’s BDC West…SIRR Ohio…GEC……Turkey Tourney picks

by Steve Dunford 

You will see individual team previews of the Black Diamond, Southern Illinois River-to-River and Greater Egyptian Conferences.  Also I have how the hardware will be distributed next Saturday night at Christopher.

In the GEC, I used a little of sabermetrics.  Four through seven are even in my book.  The rankings might not determine strength of the opponent. It is a tough league to win on the road, so I slotted these four spots who has the home schedule advantage.

The conference is divided into two divisions.  One division is NCOE, Thompsonville, Crab Orchard, and Galatia, the other is Carrier Mills, Hardin County, Pope County, and Gallatin County.  You have a home and home with each team in the division.  The first game that you play against the team in your division counts as a conference game, the second a non-conference game.

I will do as many previews as ones I have made contact with from both divisions of the Black Diamond and River-to-River as well as the GEC of who I have made contact with.

I have did the same with the Christopher Turkey Tournament, as the teams outside the three conferences at Goreville and DuQuoin.

I only with predictions from the BDC West, and SIRR Ohio divisions.

Black Diamond West

1,  Goreville

2.  Sesser-Valier 

 3.  Christopher 

4.  Chester

5.  Vienna

6.  Trico

7.  Zeigler-Royalton

Southern Illinois River-to-River Ohio Division

1.   Murphysboro

2.  Harrisburg

3,  Benton 

4.  Massac County

5.  West Frankfort 

6.  Herrin

Greater Egyptian

1,  Gallatin County

2.  Thompsonville 

3.  Hardin County

4.  Pope County

5,  Crab Orchard

6.  Galatia

7.  Norris City Omaha-Enfield

8.  Carrier Mills

Christopher Turkey Tourney

Champion:  Webber Township

Runner up:  Christopher 

Third Place:  Thompsonville 

Fourth Place:  NCOE

Consolation Champion:  New Athens

Sixth Place:  Wayne City

Seventh Place:  Zeigler-Royalton 

Eighth Place:  Waltonville

I encourage you to get on social media, agree, disagree, or throw me under the bus even.


Turkey Tourney Preveiw: New Athens Yellow Jackets

By Steve Dunford 

The New Athens Yellow Jackets make their debut this year in the 43rd annual Christopher Thanksgiving Tournament.

They were supposed to make their debut last year, but there was a contract snafu and they were in the Carlyle Kaskaskian Classic.

New Athens has an enrollment of 165, and they play in the Cahokia conference.

I asked Yellow Jacket coach Conrad  Widdersheim to tell about his team.  “I have three seniors: center Jaxon Heintz (6’6″), guard/forward Joel Mattingly (5’11”) and guard Landon Deutschman (5’9″); 1 junior guard George Schneider (5’8″) and 1 sophomore guard/forward Joe Range (6’1″) in my starting five. I’ve got a collection of 4 other sophomores and 1 freshman coming off my bench. Heintz is the only returning starter from last year and he has been an all-conference selection the past two years.”

They open with the Thompsonville Tigers on Tuesday Night at 6:15 p.m.  I asked him what his game plan was going up against the Tigers.  “We don’t know a lot about Thompsonville. We got the chance to play them this summer, but in the summertime so many kids are missing it’s tough to gauge a team. We’ll just do what we’ve been working on which is playing tough defense and taking high-quality shots.”

The Tournament opens on Monday night with Wayne City facing Norris City Omaha-Enfield at 6:15 p.m.  Christopher will face Waltonville at 7:45 p.m.  Zeigler-Royalton faces Webber Township at 7:45 p.m.

Turkey Tourney/GEC Preview: The Norris City-Omaha-Enfield Fighting Cardinals

By Steve Dunford 

Since this is my first preview, I am going to do some housekeeping things.  Through feedback from last season,  readers shared with me they would like to see stories from the conferences the seven high schools that I cover, which are the six county schools and the Hamilton County Foxes.

Instead of a long conference preview, I am going to feature each team in short previews. I am going to introduce you to the NCOE fighting Cardinals, since this is their second year of them playing in the Christopher Thanksgiving Tournament.

Their enrollment is 193.  They play in the Greater Egyptian Conference.  The GEC is a 1A conference with schools 6 that consists of Thompsonville, Crab Orchard, Galatia, Carrier Mills, Pope County, Hardin County, and Gallatin County.

The school is in Norris City, which has a population of 1,500.  The village is located in the Southwest corner of White County.  The district contains the southern part of White, and the Northern part of Gallatin County.

The Cardinals had a record of 7-18 last year.   They are coached by Evan Wylie, who is in his third year.

NCOE plays a style that is unique to Southern Illinois.  They run and gun and their goal is to jack at least 40 three-pointers a game.  They press for 32 minutes and have at least three at all times at the scorers table to run in and out.

They lost 6′ 1″ Matt Long to graduation.  Long was a guard for the team that would not be shy to chuck it from at least 30 feet.  Another senior form last years squad, Cooper Wells who was 6’3″ and played the three spot.  He liked that 22 foot baseline jumper.

The lineup that Coach Wylie will go with 6′ 1 Jeb Baumgarte in the middle.  He is very physical on the inside.  He cleans up the boards and puts in a lot of stick backs.  He will kick also kick out offensive rebounds for a three point attempt.

Joining Bumgarte on the inside will be Brandon Skaggs  a 6′ 2″ Junior. and  Colton O’ Neal a 6′ 0″ forward.  In the back court will be playing the point will be 5′ 10″ senior Evan Healy.  The two guard will be 5′ 10″ sophomore Trey Simmons.   All of them had some varsity minutes last season, and can shoot the three.

The bench will be made of mainly freshmen.  Coach Wylie said they have a strong class coming in and all are around 5′ 10″ or 5′ 11.”  They will be put in the fire quickly.

FORECAST:  In the Christopher Thanksgiving Tournament, I see them getting fourth place,  losing to Thompsonville in the third place game.  I see them finishing seventh in the Greater Egyptian Conference.  I used some sabermetrics to come up the formula to determine the middle of the pack in the pre-season rankings.

This is a conference that is tough to play on the road.  The schedule is less favorable to the Fighting Cardinals.   Honestly I could have easily had a four way tie for fourth.

I am going to rank strength of schedule.  I am going to put the Fighting Cardinals at fourth.  They play in the Eldorado Holiday Tournament.  They also have cross county rival Carmi-White County as well as their close neighbors the Hamilton County Foxes as well.  If they get in the winners bracket at Chirstopher, they have the chance to go up against tough teams like Christopher, Webber Township, and the first of the possibility of five games against the Thompsonville Tigers.

This is just speculation.  They take the hardwood Monday night against the Wayne City Indians at the Turkey Tourney.