Devils move to 5-0 in the BDC West, defeat Goreville 64-48

SESSER –  The Sesser-Valier Red Devils outscored their opponents 24-11 in the fourth quarter to take a nice 64-48 victory from the Goreville Blackcats.

The Devils put four players on the night in double figures as Lukas Gunter led the way with 18 points, Tyler Winchester 13, Preston Launius and Joshua Gunter had ten points each on the night for Sesser-Valier.

Braden Webb led the way for the Blackcats with 14 and Landon Albright added 10.  Post player Tanner Dunn did not play for Goreville, as he was out with the flu.

Sesser Valier improves to (10-5)(5-0) on the season and will make the short trip to Z-R Friday night, before heading into the BIT.

Goreville (11-4)(2-2) will host the Christopher Bearcats on Friday night before facing the Carbondale Terriers in the first Round of the Superman Classic.

Jared Curry is supposed to return to the Bearcat lineup of Friday night.

Link to Les Winkler’s story from The Southern Illinoisan

Link to Jack Bullock’s story from A Baseline View

Link to current Black Diamond Standings


Lady Devils move to 17-0 with BDC win over Trico

By Jim Muir

A 26-0 run in the second and third quarter broke open a relatively close game and propelled the Sesser-Valier-Waltonville Lady Devils to a 53-19 victory over Trico in Monday night Black Diamond Conference action.

The Lady Devils led 18-9 after the opening quarter but outscored Trico 22-6 in the middle two quarters and improved to 17-0 overall on the season.

“I thought our defense was really good tonight,” said longtime SVW Coach Rick Metcalf. “Any time you hold a team to only 19 points it’s a great team effort on defense.

Metcalf gave high marks to Paige Tucker who led the team offensively with 16 points and also to Adrianna Fedderke, who came off the bench to help the strong defensive effort. Metcalf also singled out Sami McCowen, who had 12 points, four blocked shots and a stellar defensive effort.

“Sami is just a special player,” Metcalf added.

Rounding out the scoring for SVW, Carlie Page scored eight points, Brooke Wilderman had seven points, Jaice McCowen had six points, Jada Hale added three points and Ella Zahm added one point.

The Lady Devils are back in action on Wednesday night when they host the always tough Goreville Lady Blackcats in a key BDC West match up. SVW will begin play on Saturday, January 13 at the West Frankfort Mid-Winter Classic and also play on Tuesday, January 16 and Thursday, January 16.

Lady Devils move to 16-0 with win over Vienna

By Jim Muir

The Sesser-Valier-Waltonville Lady Devils ran their unblemished record to 16-0 Thursday night with a hard-fought road win at Vienna in Black Diamond Conference action.

The Lady Devils prevailed 64-57 but battled foul trouble throughout the contest and led only 42-40 at the end of three quarters.

“It was a total team effort to get this win,” said Coach Rick Metcalf. “The entire team was in foul trouble but we battled through and got a victory. Every player that was on the floor helped us get the win.”

The Lady Devils led 14-10 at the end of the first quarter and then outscored Vienna 18-14 in the second frame to lead 32-24 at the intermission. The Lady Eagles responded in the third quarter outscoring S-V-W 16-10 to close to within two.

“We shot the ball well tonight,” said Metcalf. “I thought Jaycee Garner gave us some really good minutes off the bench.”

Paige Tucker led the balanced scoring attack with 18 points, followed by Brooke Wilderman with 15 points and Jaice McCowen with 14 points. Rounding out the scoring Sami McCowen added nine points followed by Jaycee Garner, Carlie Page, Jada Hale and Peyton Wilderman with two points each.

The Lady Devils have a pair of conference games next week traveling to Trico on Monday, January 8 before returning home on Wednesday, January 10 to face Goreville. S-V-W will begin play in the West Frankfort Mid-Winter Classic on Saturday, January 13.








Sesser-Valier Students attend assembly on internet safety

Illinois State Trooper Joey Watson conducts an assembly for all Sesser-Valier students from grades 3-12 on the dangers of surfing the internet. There will be a similar session in the spring for parents. (Photo provided)

A decade of giving – Sesser business giving back to community

By Jim Muir

Very quietly during the past decade the Double R Bar in Sesser has given back to the community in a big and lasting way.

This weekend – January 6, 2018 – will mark the 10th Anniversary of the Willard & Brandon Dame Hunt that will take place at Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park. Since its inception the annual event has raised more than $75,000 that has been donated to fund scholarships for Sesser-Valier High School students and to provide much-needed help to local people facing difficult medical conditions.

Charles Pool, manager of the bar, said the annual hunt has ‘grown by leaps and bounds’ in both money raised and participants. Pool said the amazing thing is that the event has not been highly publicized or promoted.

Double R Bar manager Charles Pool, left, presents a check to former Sesser-Valier High School student Luke Thompson from money raised through the annual Willard & Brandon Dame Hunt.
(Photo provided)

“This little bar has been a part of the community for a long, long time,” Pool said. “This event is just a way for us to give something back. The bar keeps none of the money raised.”

The day of the hunt will be a jam-packed marathon for the many volunteers who donate their time and resources and will include three meals – the Double R kicks the event off with a hearty breakfast prior to the hunt. All the hunters involved each pay $30 to participate. After the ‘before-daylight’ breakfast at Double R the hunt is held and then lunch is served again at the bar. Gutzler said vendors from throughout Southern Illinois donate items to be raffled off during the daylong event, including three new guns this year. Pool said each year the hunt draws 60-80 hunters. Other sponsors donate money and items that are auctioned during the daylong event.

Willard Dame and his son Brandon loved to hunt and loved the outdoors and the camaraderie with fellow hunters that go along with the sport. But tragedy struck the Dame family on December 28, 1994 when 16-year-old Brandon was critically injured in a two-car crash south of Sesser. He died the following day in a Cape Girardeau hospital. Willard died on January 26, 2007 at the relatively young age of 59.

And it’s that knowledge that spurred Double R co-owner Randy Gutzler to initiate the annual event to honor the memory of father and son while at the same time helping a local student through a scholarship fund.

Gutzler said the ‘why’ involved with the start of the yearly hunt is two-fold.

“Willard loved to hunt and Brandon started hunting with him when he was really young,” said Gutzler. “We think this is a good way to keep their memory alive and also help a deserving student continue their education.”

Pool said a portion of the money raised is donated each year to the Sesser-Valier High School Outdoorsman Club – a group that has received statewide recognition for its annual handicap deer hunt and other community-oriented programs. In recent years, Pool said, money has also been donated to local residents fighting mounting medical and travel expenses from cancer.

‘We’ve also donated more than $5,000 to St. Judes Children’s Hospital,” said Pool. “We have also helped three or four people right here in Sesser who were battling cancer.”

Chrissie (Dame) Vickers, Willard’s daughter and Brandon’s sister, gave high marks for the effort by Gutzler and Pool and the host of people that help to make the event a success. Despite his youth Vickers said her brother was an avid hunter and was also proud of his association with the popular Outdoorsman Club at S-V High School.

“I think it’s tremendous what they have accomplished with this event,” said Vickers. “As the years go by this is a way to keep my dad and my brother’s memory alive and at the same time help a young person with their education.”

She recalled that the November deer season of 1994 – only a few weeks before her brother was fatally injured – found Brandon torn about a tough decision.

“He loved the Outdoorsman Club and the handicapped deer hunt,” said Vickers. “He wanted to go to that but he really wanted to hunt with my dad. In the end he went with my dad to hunt and it was the last time they hunted together.”

Gutzler said there are certain criteria that must be met each year to qualify for the scholarship.

“The scholarship must go to a member of the Outdoorsman Club and also to a student that has a financial need,” said Gutzler. “And the scholarship has to go through Rend Lake College.”

Gutzler said he believes the event will continue to grow each year.

“We’re happy to do it each year,” said Gutzler. “To raise more than $75,000 in a little bar in a little town is a pretty good sum of money and of course it all goes for a great cause.”


Lady Devils run record to 15-0 with win over Christopher

By Jim Muir

The Sesser-Valier-Waltonville Lady Devils ran their record to 15-0 Tuesday night with a lopsided 71-35 victory over Christopher in Black Diamond Conference West action.

Sisters Sami and Jaice McCowen combined for 33 points and eight 3-pointers in the victory. Sami McCowen, a junior, netted 22 points, hitting five treys while younger sister Jaice, a sophomore, added 11 points and three 3-pointers. In all, the Lady Devils hit 11 3-pointers in the contest.

S-V-W jumped out to a 19-7 first quarter lead and then outscored the Lady Bearcats 23-12 in the second frame to coast to a commanding 42-19 halftime advantage.

S-V-W Coach Rick Metcalf had high praise for the McCowen sisters and their offensive showing.

“They really got us out of the gate offensively,” said the longtime coach. “We shot the ball extremely well as a team.”

Metcalf said Sami McCowen continues to improve in all aspects of the game.

“She (Sami) is one of the top point guards in the Southern Illinois,” said Metcalf. “She is getting better every game, and she is just a junior.”

Rounding out the scoring for the Lady Red Devils, Paige Tucker and Peyton Wilderman had eight points each, Brooke Wilderman added five points, Carlie Page and Jaycee Garner scored four points each, Jada Hale added three points and Ella Zahm, Adrianna Fedderke and Hannah Miller all scored two points each.

The Lady Bearcats were led in scoring by Jayla Williams with nine points, followed by Courtney Hoppers and Andrea Miller with six points each. Rounding out the scoring Kassie O’Bryan had four points, Lauren Kent added three points, Khortnee Kerkemeyer, Shianne Dejear and Savannah Sherman had two points and Carly Freehill added one point.

The Lady Bearcats are back in action on Thursday January 4 when they will host Zeigler-Royalton in a BDC match while the Lady Red Devils will travel to Vienna on the same night.






Goreville wins the SVHT: Round two will take place on Jan. 9th at Sesser-Valier

By Steve Dunford 

SESSER – It was a match-up that lived up to its billing.  The overflowing crowd ad Sesser-Valier High School, sure received their five dollars worth.  The Goreville Blackcats cut the nets down last night, in a 65-63 win over the Sesser-Valier Red Devils.

Sesser-Valier Coach Shane Garner with his Devils during a timeout in the semi-final win against Woodlawn. (Thank you Dana Laur)

With time elapsing under the :15, Peyton Geyman picked up the biggest rebound of his high school career to hit Tanner Dunn with a baseball pass with a wide open layup to put Goreville up 65-63.

Tyler Winchester, who hit a buzzer beater the night before against Woodlawn, had a good look and it rimmed in and out to give the Blackcats the win.

Sesser-Valier rushes out to a 10-3 lead. Lucas Gunter hits two threes during this stretch. Goreville goes on a 11-3 run to end the quarter.  Braden Webb hits two free throws in the closing seconds of the quarter to put the Blackcats up 14-13.

To start the second quarter there were three ties and four lead changes.  During that stretch Webb picked up two big assists, finding Cole Tosh wide open underneath the bucket.  The third time he was sent to the foul line, and he drained both of them.

The Devils go up by six when Preston Launius drains his second three of the quarter to give them a 30-24 lead,  Peyton Massey answers back with a three of his own.   The lead see-saws back between six and four.  Eli Gunter picks up a bucket in the closing seconds of the first half to put the Devils up 35-29.

In the third the Devils extend the lead to nine points.  Through this stretch Webb put the team on his back.  He rattled off six points and he found Tosh in the paint again twice.  Through this stretch, Winchester is fouled by Webb to pick up his third foul.  Lukas Gunter drives the lane two possessions later to pick up Webb’s fourth foul.  

Instead of the Red Devils taking advantage of the situation, Morgan Bishop came up with a big three, as the momentum started to swing, then Massey hits a big thee to tie it at 47.  The third quarter ends with the score 50-49.

The Devils take a four point lead, then Tanner Dunn takes the deuce and the abuse.  If Darren Kinnard was in the house, that definitely would have been on Channel 3.

Coach Todd Tripp goes back to Webb after this at the five minute mark.  He did not last long as he fouled out at the 2:52 mark on a player control foul.  It was one of those block/charge calls that could have went either way.

You never want to see anyone get injured, but Webb hurt his ankle in the Goreville Invitational.  He did not play against Hardin County and missed the following game after the tournament against Z-R.  They had ten days off then.  In his first game back he scores 33 against West Frankfort.

Geyman throws his first long pass and hits Massey to put Goreville up 62-61.  The Blackcats run :45 seconds before the Devils foul Massey.

Massey hits 1-2 to as Goreville goes up 63-61.  Addsion Page hits two free throws to knot it up at 63.  Then I shared what happened in the last 15 seconds.

Braden Webb and Peyton Massey share the all time scores at 16,  Cole Tosh 13, and Tanner Dunn added 11 on the night for Goreville.

Even though they picked up sixteen points each, Preston Launius, Lukas Gunter, Tyler Winchester, and Joshua Gunter did a great job guarding Massey and Dunn, whether if they were their man, or help side defense.

Goreville Coach Todd Tripp had this to say about last night’s win.  . Our kids did not quit.  I am  super proud of the way we responded all night!   It is a big win for my kids and happy they get a chance to enjoy this championship.

For the Red Devils Lukas Gunter, and Preston Launius lead with 13 each, twelve for Tyler Winchester, and ten for Addison Page had ten.

Goreville improves to 10-2 on the season.  They make the long trip to Campbell Hill to face to Trico Pioneers Friday, January 5th.

Sesser-Valier falls to 8-5 on the season.  They host Trico on the 6th.

Round two will take place on the on January 9th at Sesser.  Round three will take place February 9th at Goreville.  I would not be surprised if a round four takes place at the at the Hardin County Sectional.

Box Score

GOREVILLE (65)  Massey 2 2 6-7 16, Webb 5 1 3-5 16, Tosh 5 0 3-4 13, Dunn 5 0 3-4 13.  Geyman 2 0 0-0 4, Bishop 0 1 0-0 3,  Glidewell 1 0 0-0 2 Albright 0 0 0-0 0

SESSER-VALIER (63)  L. Gunter 2 2 3-6 13, Launius 3 2 1-2 13, Winchester 2 2 2-4 12, Page 2 1 3-4 10, J. Gunter 1 1 1-2 6,  Rock 2 0 1-1 5, E Gunter 1 0 0-0 2, Boles 0 0 2-2 2

Line Score

GOREVILLE (10-2)    14- 15 – 20 – 13  –  65

SESSER-VALIER (8-5)   13 – 22 – 15 – 16 – 63











Red Devils win on a buzzer beater

By Steve Dunford 

SESSER –  I have spent a lot of times watching game film. live streaming broadcasts this week, and I have loved every minute of it.  I have been finishing up before tip-off of every game.  To say the least I am running behind.

When something is meant to be, you hear something from multiple different places.  There has been different ones that said you can cover a game streaming, there is no reason why you could not write something listening to a radio broadcast.  Last night that is what I did.

I am going to give you the “Cliff Notes Version” of the game coverage.  Most of you have seen a lot of playing time since your sophomore year.  You were down 11 in the second quarter.  You could have folded up the tents and be content with playing Christopher at 3:00 p.m.

Three Seniors in. Lukas Gunter, Tyler Winchester, and Preston Launius, played like veterans down the stretch.  Winchester came up big.  Even though I was listening to Danny Czerwinski, there were several that had Winchester’s shot posted.

Tonight, there will be a Goreville Blackcat team, that has been slated by several to end up in Peoria this year.  There will be at least two more battles in the conference this year.  I would not be surprised one bit if there would be a fourth down in Elizabethtown in the sectionals.

Just from experience, there is a huge line outside.  The doors open at 6:00 p.m.  It will be sold out at 6:15.  There will be people in the commons watching on video.

Most of you taking the floor tonight, I watched you grow up, even though I have not been around the last few years.  I was actually pacing the floor in the last two minutes.  It is a blessing, I will get to watch you play on Goreville’s live stream.

I have a lot of respect for your coach and staff.  They to a lot of things right.  Most of all Coach Garner sets a Godly Example in front of you daily.

Across the way there will be another coach that has been very good to me since I have became a sportswriter  Coach Tripp will be clapping a lot to get your opponent going.   The coat will go off first.  Then the tie will, and sometimes the shirt tail.

There will be such a crowd there will be a soda cart brought out like at Busch Stadium.

I hope you will be cutting down some nets in about three hours.

Box Score from last night

SESSER-VALIER (65)  Winchester 3-2 6-7 18,  Launius 6 0 0-0 12, Boles 3 2 0-0 12, L. Gunter 6 0 0-0 12, Rock 4 0 0-0 8 Page 1 0 1-2 3,  J. Gunter 0 0 0-0 0, E. Gunter 0 0 0-0 0

WOODLAWN (64)  McKay 5 1 7-8 20, Fowkes, 4 2 0-3 13,  Rynski 3 1 3-3 13, Bennett 4 0 2-5 10, Hollenkamp 1 1 2-2 7, England 0 0 1-2 1

Line Score

SESSER-VALIER (8-4)    7 – 15 – 16 – 27  –  65

WOODLAWN (8-5*)     17 – 13 – 12 – 22 –  64

*Record includes this afternoon’s loss to Christopher.

Red Devils man-handle the Appleknockers last night

By Steve Dunford 

SESSER – In the opening minutes of the first quarter, it was Tyler Winchester 10 Devils 0.  Winchester had a game high 28. points as Sesser-Valier moves to a date with the Woodlawn Cardinals.  They knocked Cobden to the fifth place bracket with a 77-62 victory.

After Winchester picked apart the Appleknocker defense, Cobden goes on an 8-o run to cut it to 10-8.  The Red Devils spread the wealth, and Coach Garner goes deep into his bench, which in my view, is the deepest in Southern Illinois 1A basketball, to take a 19-12 lead.

The Devils go on several runs in the second quarter. Preston Launius was the key to several of the runs as he had seven points in the quarter.  You might see him on the all tournament team.  The Appleknockers were in deep foul trouble.  One thing that grabbed my attention is was post player Seth Boles stepping out and hitting his first of two threes. The Red Devils let at the half 44-29

Sesser ends up taking a 65-36 lead before Cobden goes on a seven point run.  When they faced continuous  clock in the fourth quarter it seems like they would go on a run.  After three quarters, the score was 70-46.

The Devils take a 77-51 lead, when Coach Garner begins to substitute freely, and run time off the clock.  Cobden goes on a 11-0 at the end of the game for a 77-62 finaL

As mentioned above, Winchester’s 28 and Launius’ 13 led the Devils scoring in double figures.

Dylan Lewey, Clayton Eck,  and John Russell all had eight points for the Appleknockers.

Sesser Valier improves to 7-4 on the season.  They play the Woodlawn Cardinals in a semi-final game at 8:00 p.m. this evening. If they win, they will play the Goreville Blackcats in the championship game at 7;00 p.m. tomorrow night.  If they lose, they will face off against their rivals, the Christopher Bearcats at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Cobden fell to 9-7 on the year.   They play the Johnston City Indians at 6:30 this evening in the fifth place bracket at 6:30 this evening.

Box Score

SESSER-VALIER (77) Basso 0 0 0-0 0, L. Gunter 2 0 4-5 8, Winchester 5 3 9-9 28, E. Gunter 0 0 0-0 0, Launius 6 0 1-2 13, Pates 0 0 0-1 0, Rock 2 0 1-2 5, Kiselewski 0 0 0-0 0, Boles 3 2 1-1 13, Page 4 0 2-6 10.
2FG-22, 3FG-5, FT-18-26, PF-18.

Fouled Out:  Page

COBDEN (62) Franklin 1 0 3-6 5, Nance 0 2 1-2 7, Allen 1 0 1-1 3, Lewey 3 0 2-4 8, Russell 2 1 1-2 8, Britt 2 0 0-2 4, Eck 4 0 0-0 8, West 0 0 0-0 0, Inman 0 0 0-0 0, Flamm 1 1 0-0 5, Brumleve 4 0 6-7 14.
2FG-18, 3FG-4, FT-14-24

Technical Fouls:  Franklin

Line Score

SESSER-VALIER (7-4)    19 – 25 – 26 – 7  –  77

COBDEN (9-7)    12 – 17 – 16 – 16  –  62

50 Influencers of Rend Lake College: Randall Crocker Leading into the Future

By Reece Rutland 

NOTE:  This is a series that featured the Rend Lake College Board as a whole.  I decided to break it down individually.  Today, Randall Crocker of Sesser will be featured. sd

Randall Crocker is a two-time board of trustees member, having served from 1997-2009 before being reappointed to the board in 2013 to fill a vacant seat. In 2015, he was elected to an additional four-year term on the board.

“We are glad to welcome Randall back to our board. He brings plenty of experience from his earlier service, and he continues to be a strong supporter of Rend Lake College,” said President Wilkerson at the time of the appointment.

Crocker is a long-time member and chair of the Franklin County Board and owns and operates Crocker Insurance Agency in Sesser with his son Brett.

“I’m very pleased with the way the college is being run. I don’t have any specific goals in mind, but I want to support the administration, because I think they’re doing a great job,” said Crocker.

A former RLC student himself, Crocker is now tied for fourth-longest tenured trustee. He will have sat on the board for a total of 18 years when he completes his current term. Only Marvin Scott (35 years), Dr. Richard Simpson (23 years) and Dr. Allan Patton (22 years) have served longer. David Edmison also served as a trustee for 18 years.

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