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.  



Z-R’s Dollins had a double double against Goreville last night

By Steve Dunford 

ZEIGLER-  Gannon Dollins, a 6′ 5″ freshman center for Zeigler-Royalton had 12 points and pulled down 15 boards, in a 68-36 loss against Goreville last night.  It was the Black Diamond West opener for both teams.

The Tornadoes were down 14-8 after one.  They did a decent job handing the full court pressure put on by the Blackcats.

Z-R hung around until the middle of the second quarter, and a late Goreville push sent both teams to the locker room with the Blackcats up 34-16.

The Tornadoes cut it back to 18 on several occasions but Goreville went on a 10-2 run just under the four minute mark, as it was 54-26 after three.

Both Z-R coach Matt Morgan and Goreville coach Todd Tripp subbed liberally in the final frame.

This was the third time I had the opportunity two watch the Tornadoes this season.  I watched them streaming last night on Blackcats Network.  It is an awesome service provided by Goreville Unit District #1.

This was a much improved ball club that I watched at Christopher last week.  One of the things that stood out to me last night was how patient they were on the offensive end.  There were some possessions over a minute lapsed off the clock.

Second whether full court or Goreville picking them up at half court, the young guards for Z-R did a good job handling it.

This is what Coach Morgan had to say about last night’s game.  “We battled.  Just once again we have to clean up the little things. Their strength hurt us tonight. Our young guards  were pushed deep in defense and we got hammered on the boards.”  

Dollins was the only Tornado in double figures with his 12 points on the night.  Cole Sanders added nine, Jake Imhoff six, Landon Bate three, Cole Gelso, David Eldrige and Noah Leeper added two.  Coach Morgan had good things to say about the minutes Leeper gave him, as he is a senior playing basketball for the first time.

The Blackcats placed four in double figures.  Tanner Dunn led the way with 13, Morgan Bishop 11, Cole Tosh and Peyton Massey both had 10 points on the night.  They were without the services of PG Braden Webb, who has been banged up since the A-J game of the Goreville Invitational Tournament.

Goreville (4-2)(1-0) will be off until the 16th, as they make a return trip to Franklin County to face the West Frankfort Redbirds in a non-conference game.

Zeigler-Royalton (0-5)(0-1) host the Vienna Eagles in a BDC West match-up.  This will be their last contest until the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament.


Zeigler-Royalton falls to Webber Township Friday night

By Steve Dunford 

ZEIGLER – The Zeigler Royalton Tornadoes fell to the Webber Township Trojans 70-39  Friday night at Art Brandon gym.

Senior Cole Sanders led the way with 11 points for the Tornadoes; Trevor Mills nine, six for David Eldridge, four for Cole Gelso; three for Andrew Basillion and Gannon Dollins; two for Frankie Reboletto; and one point for Noah Leeper.

Dalton Humphrey, Landon Bate, and Xander Schablowsky did not score.

For Webber, Brody Mount had a game high 19 points, Dylan Stratton and Charles Neal added 16 on the night.

Z-R Coach Matt Morgan has this to say about Friday night’s game.  “Webber is a very talented and hard working team. I was pleased with our effort. We did a much better job on the offensive and defensive glass than in our first matchup which was an emphasis that we talked about.”

“We finished 7-21 in the paint and many of those misses were buckets that we should have put in the hole and just rushed or missed point blank. It was another step forward for us. We were also better defensively, especially in transition compared to the first game. Getting our kids to understand bad shots and turnovers transition to easy buckets for our opponents is something we will continue to hit on.”

The Tornadoes fall to (0-4)  and open BDC play this week.  Here is what Coach Morgan had to say about the days leading up to the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament.  “We come back with two tough games next week against Goreville and Vienna and then an extended break, which we will use to clean up some of the early season bad habits that we have.”

Last year Z-R had to pull out of the Wayne City Holiday Tournament to add the home and home with Vienna when the crossed over to the BDC west.

This is my opinion, if the Tornadoes would like to add a third tournament again, this young ball club would make an ideal fit at the new midwinter at Egyptian.

Webber improves to 3-1 on the season.  They open Midland Trail conference play on Tuesday,  traveling to face former Z-R standout Tyler Mitchell’s Odin Eagles. On Friday the Trojans make a return trip to Franklin County to face their former Mid South Conference foes, the Thompsonville Tigers.

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.

WSIL-TV highlights of T’ville and Z-R’s games last night


CHRISTOPHER, IL –  Thompsonville held of a late New Athens rally as the Tigers beat the Yellow Jackets 53-52 last night.

In the nightcap Webber Township was better than advertised, as the Trojans defeated the Zeigler-Royalton Tornadoes 83-33.

Click below for the link form WSIL-Sports director Darren Kinnard.

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.