Class 1A Basketball alive and well in Southern Illinois

By Steve Dunford 

THOMPSONVILLE – It seems like high school sports are on the decline.  Most teams in the River-to-River in the Ohio and Mississippi divisions are having problems putting a freshman and/or a JV team on the football field.

In class 1A ,pitch counts for teams are causing a lot of problems in baseball.  In fact Thompsonville is having to co-op with Johnston City in baseball this upcoming spring.

The home crowd at Thompsonville last night. It was standing room only for their homecoming game.

Reed Raubach has pitched some no-hitters in the GEC for Tville.  He fired a one hitter against Joppa in a first round regional game.  Past Raubach, the Tigers took volunteers to pitch.  After the Joppa game in the regional, Crab Orchard short gamed the Tigers, a team that Raubach picked up the win against.

Most of you know that I am a T’ville guy.  When you are an alumnus and slide on a uniform for a school for several years, there is a special bond with a program.

I am not using this space to knock travel ball, especially for girls sports.  Kennedy Harris and Emma Reagan, will be taking their softball skills at the next level for Wabash Valley and Kaskaskia college respectively.

They have been integral parts of the Galatia-Thompsonville Cats (meaning Bearcats and Tigers).  They received exposure from travel ball they would never have received.

For the non-football playing conferences, such as the GEC, SEC and the Midland Trail, high school basketball is alive and well.

I am going to put the finishing touches on the coverage that represented two of those non-football playing conferences last night, who stepped out of conference play.  I was at Doc Harvey gym covering Thompsonville out of the GEC and Webber Township out of the Midland Trail.

It might have been two schools with a handful over 100 kids in their enrollment, but it was a big time atmosphere.

The Webber faithful came out in full force last night. It was good to see William McPherson there covering the game for the West Frankfort Gazette last night.

It was a full house.  What looked like a game that was going to be a blowout, became interesting down the stretch.  There was even a big time officiating crew on the game with Benton’s John Downey, Larry Barnett and John Allen, who has been with this crew this year, replacing long time retired official Mike Austin.

The crowd was standing room only.  It was homecoming night for T’ville.  I do not get into décor, but the gym looked awesome.

On the visitors side, there was a good contingency from Webber.  On a cold December night with flurries in the forecast, several people came down the blacktops on the east side of Jefferson and Franklin county to get there from Bluford.

With both teams main color as blue, with blue bleachers in Doc Harvey gym, there were seas of blue on both sides.

Even the sponsorship in the gym was blue.  Yes all the advertising is based in Marion.  I am very partial to schools that have their contract with Pepsi, because I can get a cold Diet Mountain Dew.  Culvers in Marion is owned by Aaron and Maria Walton of Thompsonville. Travis Clem, who is the school board president at Thompsonville, is also school board president of South Porte Bank.

The Tornado Student Section at Art Brandon Gym last night.

Across the county at Zeigler-Royalton, they had a pumped up student section.  Coach Matt Morgan’s team will take their lumps in the BDC West this year.

I am really impressed with freshman Gannon Dollins. Z-R plays harder than any other program in Southern Illinois.

Small school 1A basketball is alive and well.  From social media, it sounds like there was a convoy of Devil fans heading to Chester last night.  It sounds like some overindulged at an establishment on the west side of Chester.

The scene will be similar on 148 and the Waltonville-Woodlawn blacktop, with Bearcat fans heading north to watch their team face the Cardinals.

There is some negativity of the IHSA allowing teams to increase their schedule to 31 games, with unlimited tournaments.

I am hearing some rumblings of a proposed 1A tourney.  This has the potential to be a good one.  I will share some details when more comes available.

The Wayne City holiday Tournament starts today.  The “Connie” has spanned over six decades by now.   The pairings at Sesser-Valier will be coming out this week.   I witnessed full houses every session of the Christopher Turkey Tournament.  If you have never been to the GEC tournament in late March, it is a wild atmosphere.

If you follow the South Seven or River-to-River, I encourage you to go to a small high school gym across Southern Illinois.  Class 1A basketball is alive and well.





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