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.





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