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.  



Sesser-Valier-Waltonville girls move to 9-0 with lopsided win over Johnston City

By Jim Muir

The Sesser-Valier-Waltonville Lady Devils ran their record to 9-0 Monday night with a 77-33 Black Diamond Conference West victory over Johnston City.

The Lady Devils raced out to an 18-6 first quarter lead and then put the game away in the second frame by outscoring Johnston City 31-8 to take a commanding 49-14 halftime lead.

S-V-W Coach Rick Metcalf went to his bench early and often in the lopsided contest with all 13 players seeing action in the first half.

“We shot the ball extremely well tonight,” said Metcalf. “I thought we shot particularly well from behind the arc.”

The Lady Devils hit 10 3-pointers in the road win, led by sophomore Jaice McCowen, who had four 3-pointers. McCowen led her team in scoring with 15 on the night.

Also scoring in double figures for the Lady Devils was Jada Hale with 14, including a pair of 3-pointers.

“I thought Jada and Jaice both played extremely well tonight,” Metcalf said. “We’re getting balanced scoring and that’s a big part of the success we’re having right now.”

Through nine games the Lady Devils have had seven different players lead the team in scoring. Rounding out the scoring from Monday’s win, Paige Tucker also had double figures with 12 points, Sami McCowen added nine points, Carlie Page added seven points, Peyton Wilderman scored six points, Ella Zahm had four points and Brooke Wilderman, Anna Kistner, Rylee Breeze, Jaycee Garner and Adrianna Fedderke all had two points.

The Lady Devils are back in action on Thursday night in a key conference matchup when they face Route 148 rival Christopher in a road game.


Red Devils close out DQ Tip Off with solid win over Massac County

By Jim Muir

Sometimes in sports it’s not as important how you start as it is how you finish.

After struggling throughout the week, the Sesser-Valier Red Devils finished the Du Quoin Tip Off Classic on a strong note by grabbing their first win of the season – a 72-44 victory over Massac County.

“We played pretty well,” said S-V Coach Shane Garner. “Our defense was pretty solid and forced some turnovers that we were able to capitalize on. Our shot selection was better which led to better offensive production.”

The Red Devils outscored the Patriots in every quarter but put the game away in the third frame. Leading only 31-26 at the intermission, S-V outscored Massac County 25-11 in the third quarter to take a commanding 56-47 lead into the final quarter.

Garner said the turnovers – a problem for his team in three losses this week at Du Quoin – improved on Saturday night.

“We still had some unforced turnovers in the first half but I thought we did a much better job in the second half,” Garner said. “It was good to get the first win under our belt.”

S-V’s Tyler Winchester grabbed game scoring honors as he tallied 25 points and hit five 3-pointers. Also in double figures for the Red Devils was Eli Gunter with 13 points and Lukas Gunter with 12. Rounding out the S-V scoring, Josh Gunter and Addison Page added seven points each, Preston Launius had six points and Peyton Rock added two points.

In a Saturday afternoon game the Red Devils were defeated by Carmi-White County by a score of 56-41. S-V has little time to rest after four games in the opening week of the season as they will host always tough Okawville in the home opener on Tuesday, December 5.



Red Devils drop 56-48 decision to Du Quoin

By Jim Muir

The Sesser-Valier Red Devils dropped a hard-fought 56-48 decision to the host Indians in Friday night hoops from the Du Quoin Tip-Off Classic.

Coach Shane Garner said turnovers were instrumental in the loss on Friday night.

“Turnovers were an issue on Monday against Cairo and they were again tonight,” said Garner. “I though we clicked early and executed very well. In the end they were able to put together some runs and we weren’t.”

Du Quoin led 19-16 at the end of one quarter and extended the lead to 34-27 at halftime.

Garner said rebounding was also a key to the loss.

“They really dominated us on the glass,” said Garner. “We would force them into missing a shot and then we couldn’t capitalize and get a rebound and gave them second chance opportunities.”

The Red Devils were led in scoring by Tyler Winchester with 19, the lone S-V player in double figures. Also scoring for the Red Devils was Preston Launius and Peyton Rock with nine points each, followed by Lukas Gunter with 8, Addison Page with 2 and Josh Gunter with one point.

The loss dropped S-V to 0-2 on the young season and 0-2 heading into a tough day of action on Saturday in the round robin tournament. The Red Devils face Carmi-White County at 12 noon and then will come back at 6 p.m. to meet Massac County.



S-V-W Lady Devils improve to 7-0 with road win at Woodlawn

By Jim Muir

WOODLAWN – The Sesser-Valier-Waltonville Lady Devils improved to 7-0 Wednesday night with a close 34-31 victory at Woodlawn.

Both teams got off to a slow start offensively with S-V-W trailing 6-3 at the end of the opening quarter.

“Our offense was stagnant all night,” said S-V-W Coach Rick Metcalf. “Our defense was really good all night that’s what got us by and got us the win.”

The Lady Devils put together a good second quarter outscoring Woodlawn by double digits 14-4 to take a 17-10 halftime advantage. The second frame actually was the difference in the game as Woodlawn outscored S-V-W 21-17 in the second half but still fell short.

“We hit some clutch free throws down the stretch that really contributed to the win,” Metcalf said. “I thought Sami McCowen and Paige Tucker both had outstanding games for us tonight.”

Tucker and McCowen led the Lady Devils in scoring with 14 and 8 points respectively. Sophomore Carlie Page added seven points, Jada Hale and Jaycee Garner scored two each and Jaice McCowen added one point.

Metcalf said he is pleasantly surprised to be heading into December with an unblemished mark.

“We have played really well as a team, “said the longtime coach. “We have had six different leading scorers in seven games and that is great balance.”

The Lady Devils are back in action on Saturday afternoon when they will host Chester in a Black Diamond Conference West matchup. The JV game will begin at 1 p.m.


High School Basketball around the region tonight

Benton (0-1) vs Hardin County (0-1)  

The Rangers fell in a 67-65 overtime loss to the Anna-Jonesboro Wildcats last night to open their season at the Goreville Invitational Tournament.

Here is a link to the story from last night’s game from Jim Muir.

Rangers drop season opener to AJ in overtime

Hardin County out of the Greater Egyptian Conference is featured by 6′ 6″ three year starter Jamison Hicks in the middle, 6′ 1″ G-F Hunter Cullom, 5′ 10″ PG Jaron Austin, and 6′ 2″ forward Gabe Fowler.  There could be a cast of four that will fill the fifth slot in the starting lineup for the Cougars tonight.

Hardin County Coach Rodney Lane stated that, “This is not the most athletic bunch that I’ve had but this is my favorite bunch.”

The Cougars, by far, play the toughest schedule in the GEC.  Along with this week at Goreville, they play in the Eldorado Holiday Tournament, have a home and home with Crittenden County KY, and also face Kentucky schools Union County and Webster County.  Webster Co., two years back, decimated the field at Eldorado.

I have the Cougars finishing third in the GEC, and Jack Bullock has the Cougars slated to finish fourth.

Here is the link to the box score from last night’s  35-25 loss by the Cougars to the Hamilton County Foxes from Jack Bullock of A Baseline view.

Thompsonville (1-2) at Pope County (3-2)  

After the Tigers pulled off a barn burner win against New Athens, their fortunes were not very good last week at Christopher as they were blown out by Webber Township and Wayne City.

The Pirates had a good week at Crab Orchard with a nice 18 point win over Elverado, and took the hosts down to the wire for a two point loss.

Both teams open Greater Egyptian Conference play tonight in Golconda.

Coach Bill Simmons will be going with 6′ 6″ Josh Floyd in the middle.  Floyd has been a three year starter since he transferred from Massac County.  In the paint with Floyd will be 6′ 3″ Cole Blankenship, and 6′ 1″ Nick Walker.

In the back-court will be three interchangeable guards that can pop the three in 5′ 11″ Sebastian Fasolo, and Matthew Davis and Jackson Eddington, both at 5′ 8″

When I asked Coach Simmons how he thought the season would go a couple of weeks ago, he said,  “I hope maybe we can win a conference game.  I know it is between us and Carrier Mills but Keil (Peebles) will out coach me.”  The veteran coach who came out of retirement to teach and coach at the Golconda school, always gives you the same song and dance that Joe Hosman gives and Bob Dallas used to by saying they would be lucky to win five ball games and ends up winning 15-20.

I was able to talk to Coach Simmons at halftime of the T’ville/Webber game.  He says, “If Pete (Gordon) comes out in that 3-2, we will have a tough time passing around 11 (Reed Raubach) and 21 (Anthoney Darge).   If we get the ball inside past them, I like our chances.”

Both Jack Bullock and I had Thompsonville finishing second in the GEC, and Pope County in the middle of the pack.


Harrisburg at West Frankfort

Herrin at Benton


Sesser-Valier drops season opener to Cairo

By Jim Muir

DU QUOIN — The Sesser-Valier Red Devils dropped a season-opening 71-64 decision to the Cairo Pilots Monday night in opening round action from the Du Quoin Tip Off Classic.

Playing without the services of senior veteran Lukas Gunter, S-V fell behind early, battled back but fell short against the up-tempo Pilots. Cairo jumped out to a 21-13 first quarter lead and led 41-35 at the intermission.

S-V Coach Shane Garner said the Cairo defensive pressure hurt the Red Devils in the early going.

“Cairo forced us into a ton of turnovers and we never could get into a good flow during the game,” Garner said. “We had 19 turnovers at the half and probably that many more in the second half.”

Peyton Rock, fresh off a stellar football season, drew high praise from his coach on his first outing on the hard court.

“I thought Peyton played a great game tonight,” said Garner.

Cairo outscored S-V in the third frame 18-12 and the six point swing gave the Pilots a double-digit lead 59-47 heading into the fourth quarter.

“After we got down we chipped away at the lead and got it to six points a couple of times but we just couldn’t seem to get over the hump,” said Garner. “If we control the ball and take care of it in the half court we’ve got a shot to win the game.”

Junior Tyler Winchester led the Red Devils in scoring with 23, followed by Rock who had 13. Rounding out the scoring for S-V Eli Gunter had nine points, Josh Gunter added eight, Preston Launius chipped in with six, Addison Page had three and Kadin Kiselewski had 2.

Malachi Brown and Damarius Taylor combined for 42 points in the victory that improved the Pilots to 1-2 on the young season. Brown matched S-V’s Winchester for game scoring honors with 23 and Taylor added 19 points.

In the five-team, four-game round robin Du Quoin Tip Off format each team gets a bye during one session. The Red Devils are not in action on Wednesday night but need to lace their tennis shoes up tight this weekend with three games (one on Friday and two on Saturday) in a 24-hour period. The Red Devils will face the host Du Quoin Indians in a 7:30 p.m. contest. On Saturday S-V faces Carmi-White County in a 12 noon matchup and then faces always tough Massac County at 6 p.m.



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.


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