Mid Winter Classic Pairings released




Saturday, January 13 6:30 Cairo vs. Marion

Monday, January 15

5:30 Carterville vs. Herrin

7:00 Eldorado vs. Anna-Jonesboro

8:30 West Frankfort vs. Christopher

Tuesday, January 16

8:30 Christopher vs. Eldorado

Wednesday, January 17

5:30 Herrin vs. Cairo

7:00 West Frankfort vs. Anna-Jonesboro

8:30 Carterville vs. Marion

Thursday, January 18

18 8:30 Cairo vs. Carterville

Friday, January 19

5:30 Anna-Jonesboro vs. Christopher

7:00 West Frankfort vs. Eldorado

8:30 Herrin vs. Marion

Saturday, January 20 Finals

3:30 4th Place Teams from Each Pool Play for 7th & 8th Place Overall

5:00 3rd Place Teams from Each Pool Play for 5th & 6th Place Overall

6:30 2nd Place Teams from Each Pool Play for 3rd & 4th Place Overall

8:00 1st Place Teams from Each Pool Play for 1st & 2nd Place Overall

Tie Breakers 1st tie breaker is the head-to-head play within your division 2nd tie breaker is each team’s free throw percentage.

The 30-point mercy rule will be in effect during the fourth quarter.

A Baseline View releases new rankings



The Sesser-Valier Red Devils are ranked fifth and the Christopher Bearcats sixth in the latest poll Class 1A released by Jack Bullock (ABV Jack) of the website abaselineview.com.

The Thompsonville Tigers crack the honorable mention slot in Class 1A, and  the West Frankfort Redbirds crack the 2A honorable mention slot.

Please click on the link below for the latest poll.


All Tournament Team: Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament

Cameron Bowby – Marissa-Coulterville

Matt Campbell –  Johnston City

Tanner Dunn – Goreville

Blake Fewkes – Woodlawn

Lukas Gunter – Sesser-Valier 

Gage Hawkins – Christopher 

Tyson Kessler – Thompsonville

Keith Kiener III – Chester

Preston Launius – Sesser-Valier 

Peyton Massey – Goreville

Blake McKay – Woodlawn

Chase Selby – Johnston City

Braden Webb – Goreville

Tyler Winchester – Sesser-Valier 

Bradley Young – Christopher 

Christopher defeated by Goreville in the SVHT semi finals

Bearcats will play in the third place game at 3 p.m. today

SESSER –  The Christopher Bearcats fall to their BDC rivals the Goreville Blackcats 59-52 in a semi-final game of the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament.

The Bearcats jump out to a 14-9 lead until the closing seconds of the first quarter.  Bradley Young had five points and a couple of assists to Gage Hawkins, they had five points each for the quarter.  At the end of the quarter, Tanner Dunn hits a buzzer beating three to cut the deficit 14-12.

That was a momentum change going into the second quarter.  Starting with Dunn’s three, Goreville goes on a 16-2 run to take a 25-16 lead.  Bradley Young picked up his second foul through that stretch.  When they went down nine, Coach Stallman went back to Young when they found themselves down nine.

Christopher was in deep foul trouble, because Bryce Pratt and Gabriel Motsinger picked up their third fouls on the next two possessions.  The Blackcats kept chipping away and They were up by 33-20 at the half.

Braden Webb comes out in the first possession of the second half, and Goreville was on the verge of blowing it wide open.  The Bearcats then go on a 15-4 run to 39-35 as Braden Webb fouls Bradley Young.,

The Bearcats could not capitalize with Webb on the bench, as Landon Albright had back to back stick backs to put Goreville up by eight.  On a day for buzzer beaters, young hit a three to cut it to five.

Dalton Saeger, who has been Mr. Fourth Quarter throughout the tournament picks up a bucket and hits two free throws, sandwiched in between a Tanner Dunn stick back.  Then Bryce Pratt hits young on a fast break to cut the lead to 45-44.

Dunn then goes to the line to hit two free throws.  Bradley young hits a bucket. Goreville sinks two more free throws on the next possession.  Bryce Pratt hits a three to make it 49-49.

Morgan Bishop on the next possession knocks down a three to make it 52-49.  The air went out of the Bearcats sails then.  Goreville goes down and scores on the next three trips down the floor.

Pratt hits another three with eight seconds on the clock.  A Goreville free throw ices the victory to make it a three possession game.

Goreville improves to (9-2) 0n the season.  They will play in the championship game against the Sesser-Valier Red Devils tonight at 7:00 p.m.

Christopher falls to (8-3) on the season.  They will face the Woodlawn Cardinals in the third place game at 3:00 p.m. this  afternoon.

Box Score

GOREVILLE (59)  Webb 5 2 0-1 16, Dunn 3 1 2-2 11, Bishop 2 1 2-2 9, Massey 1 1 3-4 8, Albright 3 0 0-1 8, Tosh 1 0 2-2 8, Geyman 0 0 3-4 3, Glidewell, 0 0 2-2 2,  Fassaro 0 0 0-0 0

CHRISTOPHER (52)  Young 6 0 5-6 17, Hawkins 5 0 3-7 13, Saeger 3 0 4-4 10, Pratt 1 2 0-0 8, Motsinger 2 0 0-0 4,  Garver 0 0 0-0 0, Flowers 0 0 0-0 0

Line Score

GOREVILLE (9-2)    12 – 21 – 10 – 16  –  59

CHRISTOPHER (8-3)  14 – 6 – 18 – 14  –  52

Gage Hawkins explodes for 27 as Christopher beats Galatia 67-60

By Steve Dunford 

SESSER –  When Jared Curry went down with a knee injury, 6′ 4″ inch junior Gage Hawkins stepped into the starting lineup for Coach Eric Stallman and he has played very well so far.

Galatia Coach Rodney Wallace called for his team to double and triple Bradley Young.   Keying on Young allowed him to dish it off to Hawkins several times in the paint, for his game high 27 points.  Young was able to break loose to add 20 for Christopher.

Christopher races out to a 6-0 lead this morning.  Galatia then chips away throughout the first quarter mainly pounding into the paint to Will Pulliam as he picks up his six of ten points in the first quarter.

Galatia ties it up at 13, then Christopher goes on a 8-0 run capped off by a three pointer at the buzzer by Gabe Motsinger to put the Bearcats up 21-13 at the end of the first quarter.

In the middle of the second quarter Christopher goes up 29-18 after Young hits a pair of free throws.  Galatia goes on a tear then outscoring Christopher 15-4 throughout the rest of the quarter.

Galatia became red hot behind the arc, hitting four of their eight three pointers in the closing minutes of the first half.  Austin Stevens came up with two big ones, as he had five on the afternoon, for his team high 22 points.  Both teams go to the locker room with Christopher clinging onto a 33-31 lead.

Both teams came out of the locker room cold and playing sloppy, as Christopher was up 46-41 after three.

Christopher and Galatia started the fourth quarter trading buckets.  Young and Dalton Saeger picked up back to back “duces and abuses.”  I heard that Darren Kinnard was in the house, so you will probably see at least one of them on Channel 3 this evening.

An additional bucket by Saeger and Hawkins increases the lead to 13.  Christopher looked like they were going to blow it open with a 59-46 lead.

Galatia had one last run in them, Stevens hits a three to cut it to the lead down to four, 61-57 at 1:45 left to go.  Galatia kept sending the wrong man to the line, as they kept sending Sager to the line.  He went a perfect 6-6 to ice away the victory for Christopher.

Christopher improves to (7-2) on the season.  They will play their BDC West rivals, the Chester Yellow Jackets (8-3), who were 60-42 winners over the New Athens Yellow Jackets at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Christopher Coach Eric Stallman had this to say about this morning’s victory.  “We started pretty sluggish but that’s part of a Morning game the day after Christmas. Hawkins played very well for us today. Young had a solid game for us also. We hope play a little better tomorrow. Chester is a very good team and we will have our hands full.” 

The Galatia Bearcats fall to (4-7) on the season.  They will face New Athens (4-5) to open things up in a 9:00 a.m. contest tomorrow.

Box Score

CHRISTOPHER (67)  Hawkins 10 0 7-8 27, Young  6 1 4-9 20, Seager 2 0 7-7 11, Motsinger 2 0 1-4 8, Pratt 1 0 0-0 2, Weeks 0 0 0-0 0, Flowers 0 0 0-0 0

GALATIA (60)  Stevens  2 5 1-2 22, Pulliam 5 0 0-0 10, Pritchett 2 0 4-5 8, Hankins 2 0 1-2 7, Glenn 2 1 0-5 7,  Mitchell 1 0 4-7 6,  Lane 0 0 0-0 0, Beers 0 0 0-0 0, Triplett 0 0 0-0 0, Reed 0 0 0-0 0

Score By Quarters

CHRISTOPHER (7-2)  21 – 12 – 13 – 21  –  67

GALATIA (4-7)  13 – 8 – 10 – 19 – 60


SVHT Preview: #3 Christopher (6-2) vs Galatia (4-6)

By Steve Dunford 

In the Battle of the Bearcats. the Christopher Bearcats will face the Galatia Bearcats at 10:30 a.m. today in first round action of the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament.

The only common opponent they have is the Cobden Appleknockers.  Christopher beat them 74-61 at home on Decmeber 2nd.  Galatia lost to them 74-63 in their season opener at the Vienna Classic.

I am going to introduce you to both teams.  For those from Christopher, I cover Galatia’s conference, the GEC.  For those from Galatia and the Southeastern part of the state, I cover Christopher as I keep an eye on all the Franklin County Schools.

Galatia is coached by Rod Wallace.  He is in his second year in his second tour of duty coaching the Bearcats.  They are led by 6′ 4 forward Will Pulliam,  6′ 7″ center Austin Pritchett, and six foot guard Austin Stevens.

Their biggest wins of the year were a 71-62 win at Crab Orchard and a 74-56 win at Joppa.

Galatia likes to get up and down the floor and run with it.  They press on made baskets.  Coach Wallace usually plays about nine or ten.

Christopher comes into today’s contest possibly without their point guard Jared Curry.  Curry is not your typical point guard because he is 6′ 5″.  He takes the ball down the floor, sets the offense, and posts up.

They feature one of the best 1A players in the south, Bradley Young who is a handful to deal with.  Bryce Pratt a 6′ 2″ sophomore has scored in double figures for the Bearcats.  He started last year as a freshman.  Sophomore guard Gabriel Motsinger is a scoring threat for Christopher as well.

With Curry down, coach Eric Stallman has used a hodge-podge of role players who has stepped up in Curry’s absence.

Curry’s health will be a big factor in today’s game.  If he is healthy, Christopher will be heavy favorites and has the capability to be repeat champions.

With or without Curry, this is the second best team Galatia has faced all year.  Eldorado took Chirstopher to the woodshed in the WF Midwinter Classic last January.  If they can neutralize Young, they might have a shot of staying around or pulling the upset.

Young has the potential to completely take over a ball game, on the other hand he gets in foul trouble in a lot of games.  This could be one of the better first round games today.




Wheelers and basketball: A family legacy

Robin Scholz/The News Gazette
Unity’s JT Wheeler (25) dunks in a prep game at Unity High School in Tolono on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017.

TOLONO — JT and TJ Wheeler don’t play basketball against one another in a 1-on-1 setting. They play a personalized version of HORSE.

Fittingly, it’s called ILLINI.

The “match this shot” game, in this household, pits JT, the current Unity boys’ basketball star, against TJ, the former hoops standout at both Christopher High School and the University of Illinois.

Please click to read the full story from Colin Likas of the Champaign News-Gazette.



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.  



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