Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Could a Sikeston-Scott Central matchup be ahead?

There was plenty of talk before and after the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament about a potential Sikeston vs. Scott County Central matchup, especially after the Braves picked apart Notre Dame for an 18-point win in Tuesday's championship.

The debate is fueled by the rankings of both teams (Scott County Central is No. 1 in our SEMO Top 25, and Sikeston is No. 2) and comments earlier this month from Sikeston administrators who say their program has nothing to gain by playing the 12-time state champion. Scott Central, on the other hand, appears to be chomping at the bit for its first matchup with Sikeston since 1971.

Now there's speculation that the Cape Girardeau tournament could lose one of its teams in the next two years for its first lineup change since Egyptian, Ill., dropped out in 1984 (then known by its original and less-corporate name, University High Christmas Tournament).

It's no secret Sikeston, Perryville and New Madrid County Central have been jostling in line for years for a spot in the tournament, with Sikeston said to be at the top of the list.

Sure, Sikeston all-stater Michael Porter could be gone by the time the matchup happens — even if it comes next year. And yes, any addition to the tournament would have to be approved by the remaining schools involved.

But at least there's added hope that a Sikeston-Scott Central matchup could happen sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The games to see Tuesday? It's not a short list

It won't matter what part of the region you're headed for tonight — if you're a basketball fan, you won't be far from a potentially good ballgame.
Finals are today for boys basketball teams at Bloomfield, Cabool, Cape Girardeau and Saxony Lutheran, and girls finals are today at Park Hills and North County.
That leaves a lineup of nearly 20 title games across the area today, along with semifinals in boys tournaments at Park Hills, Poplar Bluff and Rolla (for more than a dozen additional games).
The full schedule is on our Christmas tournament schedule page here. Until then, a few guesses on what to expect:


• At Bloomfield, Bernie (8-1) and Portageville (8-0) have a potential date later in the Class 2 postseason, but their only regular-season matchup comes today for a Christmas tournament title. Portageville turned back Twin Rivers in overtime Monday; Bernie coasted past Dexter. Bernie's good, but Portageville won't struggle for two days in a row. Today: Portageville by 6 points.
• At Cape Girardeau, Scott County Central (9-1) and Notre Dame (7-4) will play a regular-season game in late January, so today's championship pairing is a preview of what's to come in less than a month. Scott County Central hasn't been tested yet in the Christmas tournament and defeated Charleston by more than 30 points Monday; Notre Dame won its semifinal against Jackson by 11 points. Notre Dame could benefit by getting the Braves frustrated early, but that doesn't happen often. Today: Scott County Central by 12.
• At Cabool, Eminence (9-0) rides an unbeaten record into today's final against Thayer (7-1) in a preview of a regular-season meeting Jan. 13. It's the same scenario as last year when second-seeded Thayer and top-seeded Eminence met with a similar result. Today: Thayer by 8.


• At North County, the girls tournament ends with three title games today, including a championship matchup between Lesterville and St. Louis Miller Career Academy.
• At Park Hills, South Iron's early exit Monday leaves a pair of rivalries that double as semifinals: DeSoto faces Hillsboro, and Farmington plays North County. Finals are Wednesday.
• At Poplar Bluff, Southeast Missouri's three entries — Sikeston, NMCC and Poplar Bluff — all face consolation semifinal tests today, including a matchup between Poplar Bluff and NMCC at 7. Finals are Wednesday.
• At Rolla, Festus is in contention for a championship and has a semifinal date at 7:30 p.m.
• At Saxony Lutheran, the round-robin tournament ends with three finals today, including a championship between Saxony Lutheran and St. Louis Metro at 7:30.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Weather could be a factor in Day 2 tournament games

Weather — the strong storms and wind kind, not the snowy kind — could make headlines before today's high school tournament games are over.

The National Weather Service posted a tornado warning today for western parts of the region ahead of a strong line of thunderstorms. For tournament-goers, storms are expected at Cabool by early afternoon, Park Hills by mid-afternoon and by late afternoon and early evening in time for championship semifinals at Bloomfield and Cape Girardeau. Behind it: colder air a little more befitting Christmas tournament games.

After highs today near 70, Sunday's high is expected to be near 50.

Friday, December 26, 2008

After Day 1 of holiday tournaments, now it gets interesting

With the exception of one, upsets dotted the schedule at every high school boys basketball tournament that opened today across the area.

At Bloomfield, it was Puxico, Richland and Van Buren pulling off the surprises. At Cabool, Norwood and Plato. At Park Hills, it was Potosi.

And after a day of upsets at three sites, it could get even more interesting Saturday.

At Bloomfield, Dexter vs. Puxico (5:30 p.m.) and Twin Rivers vs. Van Buren (7 p.m.) highlight a day that features eight games starting at 9:30 a.m. Bernie faces Bloomfield at 4 and Richland meets Portageville at 8:30 in other championship semifinals.

At the Show Me Center, favored teams won Friday, setting up a pair of intriguing large school vs. small school matchups: Notre Dame plays Advance at 6, followed at 7:30 by Jackson's game against Leopold. Other championship semifinals are Charleston vs. Cape Girardeau Central and Scott County Central vs. Kelly.

At Park Hills, first-round games and consolation semifinals are Saturday, followed Monday by championship semifinals highlighted by DeSoto vs. Ste. Genevieve at 5:30 p.m., along with potential Farmington-Herculaneum and South Iron-North County matchups Monday night.

At Cabool, top-seeded Eminence earned a first-round bye and opens Saturday against Cabool. It'll be the first game for the Redwings without standout senior Austin Brewer, who's recovering from a hunting accident earlier in the week.

• Another team without one of its key players is East Prairie, which helps explain an unlikely 75-29 loss to Dexter in the first round at Bloomfield. The Eagles are without M.C. Williams, who has left the team. Williams became the first-ever East Prairie player to win the Carr Trophy — awarded by the Poplar Bluff Letter Club to the top football player in the SEMO Conference — back in November.

• Opening-day holiday tournament games are known for their lopsided scores, and with a few exceptions this year was no different.

Out of eight games at the Show Me Center, only one was decided by 10 points or less. At Bloomfield, two were decided by 10 points or less, and at Cabool, four were decided by 10 points or less.

But the day's closest boys games were at Park Hills #&151 out of four games scheduled, the margins were three points (twice), eight and 21.

On average, first-round margins were 30 points at Bloomfield, 27 at the Show Me Center, 21 at Cabool and 9 at Park Hills.

• Friday's upsets will keep the past three Bloomfield tournament winners — Hayti (last year), Malden (2006) and Doniphan (2005) — out of the finals. Dexter is the most recent champion still in the winner's bracket; the Bearcats won seven straight titles from 1998 to 2004.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

There's a story behind Sikeston's refusal to play Scott County Central

At least Sikeston High School has reasons for not putting Scott County Central on its boys basketball schedule.

None of them make much sense, but they're reasons.

The Standard-Democrat newspaper in Sikeston talked to several of the head honchos who have a hand in scheduling at Sikeston, ranked No. 2 in the SemoSportsWeb Top 25, and at Scott County Central, No. 1 in the poll. The story appears in today's edition.

First, the quick background in case you haven't heard: The teams haven't played since 1971 when Scott Central went to Sikeston and won in overtime. Sikeston officials say postgame violence — consisting of a fight in a women's bathroom and verbal taunts in the parking lot — were so bad that the rivalry would never resume. And it hasn't.

Sikeston athletic director Brent Keefer, superintendent Steve Borgsmiller and principal Tom Williams all recite similar lines and insist that the matchup won't happen under their watch, even saying that scheduling the 12-time state champions isn't much of a test.

According to the Sikeston schedule this season, Oran, a Class 1 program with one winning season in its past five seasons, is a better challenge. So are nearby small schools Kelly and Scott City. Both require more of a drive — and less of a workout — than the 9-mile trek south of Morley.

As for Scott County Central, coach Ronnie Cookson and superintendent Joby Holland want the game to happen. Granted, a Class 1 school playing a Class 4 program has little to lose and a lot to gain with the potential of a payday in gate receipts.

But Cookson likes a challenge, and a game at Sikeston is a playoff-caliber test for his team. And he's already tossed the bait at Sikeston — the Braves might have three open dates for Sikeston to choose from next season, and Cookson sounds eager to fill one of them with Sikeston.

Sikeston's old-guard excuses might have made sense in a 1971 environment, but they're not credible in 2008.

Let the game happen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You pick: What's the best rivalry game in Southeast Missouri?

Just mentioning Sikeston and Notre Dame in the same sentence stirs emotions among basketball fans. It's always been that way when it comes to other rivalries: Jackson vs. Cape Girardeau Central, Valle vs. Ste. Genevieve, Caruthersville vs. Hayti.

Our next poll next week will ask this question: "What's the best high school rivalry in Southeast Missouri?" Pick any rivalry among any of the 83 or so high schools in the region and leave a comment -- they might be included among the choices when our poll goes up in a few days.

• The first month of the high school basketball season hasn't seen many big surprises (Leopold's Woodland Invitational championship and Charleston's 1-4 start among them), but fifth-seeded Risco's defeat of top-seeded Gosnell, Ark., in the semifinal round of the Clarkton Holiday Tournament tonight might top the list.

At Risco, wins haven't been easy to come by over the past few seasons, but coach Brandon Blankenship has the Tigers off to a 6-1 start heading into Friday's championship game. Risco's matchup Jan. 9 at Leopold could be one of the better small-school matchups of the season.

And in case you haven't already seen the team in action, click here for the link to photographer Al Jones' gallery of more than two dozen photos from Risco's first-round game against Gideon earlier this week.

Talley Haines' new Balls-n-Strikes indoor baseball and softball facility in Cape Girardeau will hold its grand opening Sunday. Sikeston High grad and current Los Angeles Dodger Blake Dewitt will be there to sign autographs starting at 3 p.m.

• Thanks to coaches, fans and others who have contributed scores in the first month of the season — it's helped us put together the most thorough list of boys basketball results in the region. As always, scores from regular-season games and tournament games are appreciated; e-mail them to, or send a text message from your cell phone any time to 573-979-5929.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday events called off -- are there others?

It looks like much of the schedule tonight will be wiped out because of the lingering ice and snow.

So far, at least a dozen games are officially called off, including Poplar Bluff-Blytheville, Sikeston-Perryville, Bernie-Woodland, South Iron-Arcadia Valley, DeSoto-Potosi, and St. Vincent-North County, along with games at the Ellington Invitational.

Do you know of others? What games or tournaments are still on for tonight?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Who's No. 1 in Southeast Missouri now?

It stands to reason that any tournament featuring six of the top 10 teams in Southeast Missouri could shake up the boys basketball rankings. After Thursday, we have a somewhat better idea of how it might turn out.

Poplar Bluff, No. 1 the past two weeks, is almost certain to drop after a loss Thursday to No. 4 New Madrid County Central in the semifinals of the SEMO Conference tournament. In the other game, No. 3 Sikeston defeated No. 5 Notre Dame by double digits.

So now the question: Will Southeast Missouri's new No. 1 team come from Friday's championship game (8:30 p.m. at Sikeston High School, for those who want to see it unfold live)?

Or does Scott County Central, the preseason No. 1 and currently No. 2, climb back to the top?

Look for the new Top 25 on Monday. But if it's your call, who do you pick?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Williams brings EP its first Carr Trophy

M.C. Williams was awarded the Carr Trophy on Wednesday as the best football athlete from the SEMO Conference, a first for East Prairie in the award's 30 years.

Williams led the SEMO Conference in rushing yards with 2,116, second only to Brandon Bourbon of Potosi, who led Southeast Missouri with 2,411 yards.

It's a strong finish for Williams after the team's unlikely loss to Malden in Week 10 nixed a shot at the playoffs.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More tournaments schedules are up, along with the Top 25

It's probably little surprise that Scott County Central is No. 1 among more than 80 high school boys basketball teams in Southeast Missouri. The Braves lead the list in our annual preseason Top 25 poll, which is determined with input from coaches and others across the region.

The Braves finished strong last season with the program's first trip to the state final four in more than a decade; they finished third with a defeat of Fair Play.

The complete poll is in our high school area of the site. Click here for the whole 25-team list.

Also added to the site this week are schedules for several basketball events next week, including tournaments at Potosi, Farmington, Crystal City, Valley and more. We'll add tournament schedules in our forum as they come in, so click here to see the list so far.

And more from the high school scene: Individual team pages are updated to include the latest records from boys basketball and football teams, and more sports will be added in the coming weeks.

A final note: The voting for Southeast Missouri's football MVP includes almost 10,000 votes so far with Brandon Bourbon of Potosi and Michael Greminger of Valle still in a close race. The voting will close at the end of the day Friday (which is the day the season formally ends for Southeast Missouri teams), and we'll post the final totals on the site Saturday.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Early hoops focus turns to Van Buren, NMCC, Cape

The schedules are posted in our forum for the season-opening high school basketbal events across the region, including the Current River Challenge at Van Buren, the Riverbend Classic at New Madrid County Central, the Pepsi Shootout at Cape Girardeau, and the Farmington Invitational at the Farmington Civic Center.

The schedule is also up for the Heartland Hoopfest and a boys basketball tournament at Crystal City, both in December. Check back for schedules from upcoming events at Woodland, Oran and South Pemiscot and more in the next few days.

Among next weekend's events, the Van Buren schedule has grown by two games and features an eight-game lineup on Saturday. It's set to make a busy afternoon and night, joining five games at the Show Me Center's annual event and four games at NMCC on the day's schedule.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

As he won a state title, Potosi runner lost his home

Jacob Swearingen was still catching his breath after winning a state high school cross country championship when he found out his home was gone.
His family's house in Potosi was destroyed in an afternoon fire just hours before he crossed the finish line.

"It was as if someone had pulled the rug out from under him," Jacob's stepfather, Tim Busse, told the Daily Journal for a story Tuesday. "Five minutes after he won the state championship for the second time in a row, Nick’s sister got a call from people down the road."

Swearingen, a back-to-back winner of the Class 2 state title, and family members are looking to rebuild with the help of community members. Two funds have been set up to help the effort; the small home shared by Jacob, his parents and two brothers wasn't insured.

The funds:

  • Belgrade State Bank, 306 North Missouri Street, Potosi, 63664. Make checks to Belgrade State Bank or the Jacob Busse family.

  • Unico Bank, P.O. Box 398, Potosi, 63664. Make checks to Unico Bank or Swearingen-Busse Relief Fund.

  • Amid the rubble, the family found only a few of Jacob's medals from a string of cross country wins since the first grade, but all of them were either melted or destroyed.

    The family welcomes household items, furniture or other items to help rebuild. To help, call 573-637-2664.

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    It was a tough semifinal round for Southeast Missouri

    The fate of a Southeast Missouri football championship rides with just two teams after a weekend of mostly lopsided results cut four local teams out of the mix.

    Caruthersville, Farmington, New Madrid County Central and Valle all lost Saturday in quarterfinal games, leaving just Jackson (Class 5) and Thayer (Class 1) with hopes of bringing a title back to the 23-county Southeast Missouri region.

    Both teams will play Saturday: Jackson goes to Hazelwood East, and Thayer goes to Tipton. Saturday's winners land at the Edward Jones Dome the following week for a state title shot.

    And with the state championship chase down to its final two weeks (or less), time's running out to determine Southeast Missouri's football MVP. The poll on the home page has produced almost 10,000 unique votes (after a few votes from duplicate addresses were deleted) with a neck-and-neck race between Brandon Bourbon of Potosi and Michael Greminger of Valle.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Football notes heading into the regionals, plus more

    Thirteen football games are set to kick off tonight for Southeast Missouri teams. Click here to see tonight's full schedule, and check back for live scoring updates throughout the night.

    SemoSportsWeb photographers will be at sites across the region, including at Farmington and Valle, so check back Thursday for photos from those two showdowns.

    Winners of tonight's games advance to Monday's regional round. Quarterfinal games are Saturday, Nov. 15.

    A few other notes:

  • Kory Faulkner on Friday became the first-ever Ste. Genevieve High School quarterback to pass for more than 3,000 yards in a season. He threw for 412 yards and completed 45 of 51 attempts.

  • Brandon Bourbon of Potosi took over the spot as the region's top rusher Friday in a win over Park Hills Central. Bourbon has 2,182 rushing yards this season and could pile on more tonight against New Madrid County Central.

  • More than 7,000 votes have been cast so far in our poll for Southeast Missouri's football MVP title. The lead has gone back and forth among several players, although Bourbon holds the spot now over Michael Greminger of Valle. The poll will stay open until each area team has finished its postseason schedule.

    And, in response to concerns that some voters found a way to hack the system and vote more than once: Yes, a few did, but the IP address of each voter was recorded, and multiple votes from the same IP address have been deleted.

  • Tickets are on sale now for the high school basketball game between Cooter and South Pemiscot at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. The game is at 1 p.m. Jan. 24. Tickets are available from both schools for $20 apiece, which includes admission to the Grizzlies' NBA game that night.

  • The all-district volleyball team for the Class 1 District 2 tournament featured Kristin Eaves of Bernie, Whitney McClung of Richland, Chelsea Bledsoe of Campbell, and Sherilyn Long, Jasmine Johnson and Codie Lancaster of Bell City.

    Second-team picks were Taylor Irwin of Oran, Mallory Dockins of Bell City, and Sami Palmer, Leslie Kean, Kristen Armbruster and Sarah Deason of Bernie.

  • Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    A new leader takes over in the SEMO MVP race (plus a new incentive)

    For the third time, there's a new No. 1 in the chase for Southeast Missouri's football MVP title.

    And, for the first time, there's even more incentive for the person who wins (besides just a title).

    Michael Greminger of Valle picked up steam this week with an avalanche of votes over the past three days and slid past former poll leader Brandon Bourbon of Potosi for the lead. More than 800 votes have come in (which are all one-time voters, since the poll doesn't allow visitors to the site to vote twice). Kory Faulkner of Ste. Genevieve has gained ground and is third.

    And, starting today, there's a new reward for Southeast Missouri's football MVP. Actually, there are three rewards.

    First, the winner of the poll will receive a free professionally built Web site with a customized address, complete profile information, photos, statistics and more, all of it designed to appeal to college recruiters and fans. The site will be updated regularly throughout his high school and college career.

    Second, the winner will receive a custom plaque engraved with his name and school, along with the title of 2008 Southeast Missouri Football MVP.

    And third, the winner will receive a $100 gift card to Sports Authority (or, which has store locations throughout St. Louis and Memphis.

    Getting the most votes in a poll is one feat, but winning a free Web site, a plaque and cash isn't so bad, either.

    We'll keep the poll open until every team in Southeast Missouri has completed its season. That means that if you haven't voted, there's time.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Making sense of football playoff scenarios

    Until this season, playoff scenarios were pretty easy to follow. But the new MSHSAA rule that allows the top two teams to advance from each four-team district means that well over half of Southeast Missouri's 33 football teams are in contention for regional playoff spots.

    It's a doozy (and not always easy to decipher), but here's a list of potential scenarios for what could happen after games Thursday and Friday:

    Class 5, District 1

    Plain and simple: If Eureka and Jackson both win, they're in the playoffs. On the other hand, either team could be eliminated based on an unlikely series of point differentials if both lose. Expect Eureka and Jackson to advance.

    Class 4, District 1

    Farmington is in no matter what happens Thursday against Sikeston. Sikeston can lose and still advance, but only if Poplar Bluff's winning margin over West Plains is the same or more than Sikeston's losing margin to Farmington. Otherwise, West Plains advances.

    Class 4, District 2

    DeSoto and Festus both clinched playoff spots at 2-0 and play Friday.

    Class 3, District 1

    New Madrid County Central and Perryville both are locks for the playoffs and meet Thursday.

    Class 3, District 2

    Ste. Genevieve is locked in the playoffs and will play Fredericktown on Thursday. Potosi and Fredericktown both are in contention for the second playoff spot based largely on Potosi's outcome against Park Hills Central. Central still has a slim hope that relies on a Central win and a Fredericktown loss, then comes down to a point totals.

    Class 3, District 3

    Priory is a lock in the playoffs. If Herculaneum and Priory win, Herculaneum will earn the second spot. If Herculaneum and Lutheran South both win or both lose, they must beat the other’s margin to get the final slot.

    Class 2, District 1

    East Prairie has sealed a playoff spot regardless of what happens Thursday against Malden. Caruthersville and Malden are in contention for the No. 2 spot based on Thursday's outcomes, which could come down to point totals.

    Class 2, District 2

    Scott City is a lock, and St. Pius X will advance as the runnerup unless St. Pius loses and Crystal City wins by a margin wide enough to impact point totals.

    Class 1, District 1

    Hayti and St. Vincent are in the playoffs and will play Thursday. Both teams are 2-0.

    Class 1, District 2

    Valle and Paris are 2-0 and will play Friday for the title.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Kicking off a big week (and the final game) for several teams

    Check back throughout the week for more updates, including a look ahead to Week 10 games, regional matchups and updated local stats.

    For now, a quick look at what's new in the past two days: Check the high school football photo index for five exclusive photo galleries from area football games Friday. Photographers were at Hayti vs. Chaffee, North County vs. DeSoto, Sikeston vs. Poplar Bluff, St. Pius X vs. Grandview, and Farmington vs. West Plains.

    And don't forget to vote for Southeast Missouri's high school football MVP on our home page. It's the only MVP award that includes every team in the region, and almost 500 votes have already been cast so far. Brandon Bourbon of Potosi leads the pack with 49 percent, leaving Michael Greminger of Valle second and Joey Lewandowski of Fredericktown third.

    We'll leave the voting open until the end of football season, so the clock is ticking to make your choice.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Changes at the top among SEMO football stat leaders

    M.C. Williams has taken over as the region's leader among high school football running backs, but Joey Lewandowski is pulling away in the race to be MVP among Southeast Missouri football players.

    Williams' big game Friday in East Prairie's win over Portageville pulled him ahead in the rushing category among area teams. He has 1,449 yards through seven games, ahead of Lewandowski of Fredericktown (1,403) and Brandon Bourbon of Potosi (1,360 yards). Williams' 207-yard game Friday was tops among running backs in the area.

    But after a week of voting for Southeast Missouri's football MVP, Lewandowki leads with 29 percent compared to Williams' 17 percent. Eli Jackson of Sikeston sits in third. A list of 12 players was picked for the final vote, which will stay open until the end of the season.

    Among quarterbacks in the region, Kory Faulkner of Ste. Genevieve leads all passers with 2,042 yards after a 400-yard game Saturday at Westminster. Blake Parr of Kennett is second with 1,890 yards.

    Dustin Noll of Ste. Genevieve leads the receivers category with 801 yards, ahead of Jarvis Finley of Kennett.

    See the top three in each category on the right side of our home page, and click here to see a list of the top games in the region week by week all season.

    Photos were posted earlier in the week from four games across the 33-county area: Al Jones' images from Sikeston's win over Kennett are here; Amy Amsden's gallery from St. Vincent's win at Grandview are here; Diane Wilson's photos from New Madrid County Central's win at Park Hills Central are here; and Andrew Amsden's gallery from the matchup between Potosi and Festus is here.

    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    Edgar's suspension has a familiar ring to it at Southeast

    At some point, somebody with an enterprising spirit should roll out a line of T-shirts that read, "I survived an NCAA investigation at SEMO."

    It's just too bad that the school is running out of coaches who could honestly wear them.

    Southeast showed athletic director Don Kaverman the door Thursday and put men's basketball coach Scott Edgar on indefinite leave for their part in shenanigans that might have helped land SEMO in a heavy-duty NCAA investigation.

    Edgar issued a short statement Thursday afternoon that pleaded ignorance of any wrongdoing, Kaverman has shied away from the media, and school president Ken Dobbins issued his own statement of shock and dismay.

    And no, for the record, SEMO hasn't changed its letterhead to "SEM-uh-oh" just yet.

    With Kaverman sent packing and with Edgar one step closer to a high school coaching job, Dobbins' biggest worry now is the NCAA, which on Monday told the school of several allegations that implicate the men's basketball staff, all since Edgar's arrival in 2006:

    • Members of the men's basketball coaching staff observed players in summer strength and conditioning activities and out-of-season games.

    • Edgar and an unnamed assistant coach twice arranged extra financial benefits for players in 2006 and '07.

    • Edgar and an unnamed assistant coach lied to the school and the NCAA during questioning about allegations.

    Edgar says he's confident he will be the team's coach once the smoke clears. It could be a while, because the school has until January to reply to the NCAA's findings, and an appeals hearing might not come until February. The school says Edgar won't return until he's cleared of the NCAA's charges.

    Southeast, for its part, moved swiftly in cleaning house and, unlike its handling of the firing of B.J. Smith two years ago, was forthcoming in its actions, even though it told its coaches and athletes in a meeting Thursday to keep silent.

    And to his credit, Edgar remains optimistic, vowing a fight to the finish.

    But at some point, Smith probably had confidence that he'd return as women's basketball coach after going on "personal leave" in October 2006. Instead, he was fired amid an NCAA investigation.

    And at some point, Ron Shumate probably had confidence that he'd stick around as men's basketball coach. But he was fired in April 1998, also in the thick of an NCAA investigation.

    It might be time for Edgar to join that list.

    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    Who's the 2008 high school MVP? It's your call

    It was about this time last year that Southeast Missouri's title of high school football MVP was put to a vote. The winner: Perryville senior Waylon Sparkman, who finished the season as one of the region's top defensive athletes. Ryan Sawyer of Fredericktown finished a close second.

    This year, there's an all new list of names and an all new debate, and the poll is up on the

    The list is a mix of offensive, defensive and all-around specialists on the field.

    On offense are four quarterbacks who have already passed for more than 1,000 yards this season: Kory Faulkner of Ste. Genevieve, Michael Greminger of Valle, Zach Hibbits of Farmington and Blake Parr of Kennett. Parr's favorite receiver, Jarvis Finley, likely will pass 1,000 yards before season's end.

    Joining them are a handful of running backs, all with big numbers: Brandon Bourbon of Potosi, Joey Lewandowski of Fredericktown and M.C. Williams of East Prairie are in the chase for the area's top rushing mark with more than 1,200 yards apiece, and lightning-fast Eli Jackson of Sikeston is close behind.

    Defensively, Kalieb Armbruster of DeSoto and Blake Peiffer of Jackson lead the region in tackles, and G'Darius Stevenson of New Madrid County Central ranks among the area's top two-way starters.

    Together they make up a bold 12-man roster, but which one will rise to the top?

    We'll leave the polling open until the end of the season, then pick Southeast Missouri's football MVP based on your votes.

    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    Five high school players clear the 1,000-yard mark

    The standing as top rusher and top passer of 2008 is turning into anybody's ballgame among Southeast Missouri high school football athletes.

    Among running backs, two from the area have cleared the 1,000-yard hurdle after five weeks: Joey Lewandowski of Fredericktown leads all rushers with 1,084 yards, just ahead of M.C. Williams of East Prairie, who has 1,038.

    The two seniors faced off Friday at East Prairie in a statistical matchup won by Lewandowski (Lewondowski had 307 yards, Williams had 233).

    Three area quarterbacks are also over 1,000 yards: Blake Parr of Kennett leads with 1,531 yards; Kory Faulkner of Ste. Genevieve has 1,252; and Mike Greminger of Valle has 1,001.

    Check out a list of week-by-week leaders here.

    Sunday, September 21, 2008

    Samuel made the wrong choice, and he got burned

    It can't feel good to be Tony Samuel today.

    But why should it? The Southeast football coach faced the decision Saturday whether to start Houston Lillard after the quarterback's arrest five days earlier, his second since July 4.

    Samuel chose to put pride over principle, and Lillard's response? He threw three interceptions, got yanked before halftime and was replaced by a freshman against Missouri State. Southeast went on to lose its third game in a row.

    Southeast, by way of Samuel, had an opportunity to tell the community and the team that character matters more than winning a game. But Samuel blew it. The signal that beamed out of Houck Stadium on Saturday is that anything goes in Southeast football, because already, it has.

    Lillard, 22, was arrested Monday in Cape Girardeau for failure to appear in court to face charges of public urination, for which he was first arrested July 4. Lillard's excuse: He was so focused on football that he forgot his court date.

    Such a flimsy excuse doesn't pass muster in the U.S. legal system, and it wouldn't hold up anywhere else where logic outweighs selfish priorities. But at Southeast, that excuse was enough for Samuel.

    Sure, Southeast can counter that they handled the matter internally, the standard line when college athletes go wild and the punishment is a slap on the wrist. And sure, supporters can claim that Lillard is an all-around nice guy who just made a mistake.

    But nice guys don't merit a free pass when they break the law, and forcing Lillard to run extra laps after practice doesn't count as punishment for betraying his team with two arrests in a little over three months.

    Lillard shouldn't have started Saturday. Period.

    And for Samuel, a third-year coach still trying to prove he's the right man to rebuild the Southeast football program, his decision Saturday leaves a lot of doubt.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Southeast coach faces a gut check with his QB

    Houston Lillard remembers to show up for Southeast football practice. He doesn't remember to show up for a criminal hearing in front of a judge.

    Puzzling, sure. But try to overlook Lillard's lack of priorities long enough to ask the more pressing question: What will his coach do about it?

    To recap the story that broke on this site Tuesday and then in the local media Wednesday, Southeast's starting quarterback was arrested Monday and charged with skipping a court date Aug. 12. The original charge was public indecency, but now he adds the charge of failing to appear in court, both of which he'll address — provided he remembers the date — in front of a judge Oct. 14.

    Lillard says he simply forgot the date, that it was an honest mistake because he was wrapped up in preseason practice. Even for a 22-year-old college student with a world of distractions, it's a flimsy cop-out.

    And now as a result of his QB's oversight, third-year coach Tony Samuel, staring at the potential of a 1-3 start if the Redhawks lose Saturday to Missouri State, faces the embarrassing decision of whether to bench Lillard for Saturday's game. He refused to address it in a story published Wednesday, but his other options at quarterback include a trio of obscure names that have seen little to no playing time: junior college transfer Dustin Powell, freshman Bobby Hoffman and freshman Matt Scheible. Of the four, only Lillard has ever started a game at Southeast.

    Whoever walks onto the field Saturday and lines up behind center will speak volumes about the character of Samuel and the state of Southeast football.

    A start by Powell or even Hoffman or Scheible tells Southeast teammates, fans and students that Samuel puts principle above winning, and that doing the right thing comes before winning a home game.

    And a start by Lillard? That sends a message, too: that athletes can pee on a downtown sidewalk, get taken to jail and even forget a court date, because that's the Southeast way.

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Faulkner, Parr race toward 1,000 yards

    Kory Faulkner and Blake Parr are on a quick course to hit a huge number just three weeks into the high school football season.

    Parr has thrown for 813 yards for Kennett, leaving him less than 200 yards away from reaching 1,000 yards. He threw for a career-high 341 yards against Hayti on Friday, and this week his 3-0 Indians host East Prairie.

    Faulkner, meanwhile, has thrown for 789 yards for Ste. Genevieve. He threw for 284 yards against Perryville, and this week he leads the Dragons into a home game against Crystal City. The game was moved from Crystal City to Ste. Genevieve by the schools earlier this week.

    At least two more area QBs also have triple digits on the horizon: Dexter's Ben Mills has thrown for 661 yards over three games, and Michael Greminger has passed for 608 yards at Valle.

    See a full list of the region's top performances from Friday's game in our week-by-week list here, and check here to see a list of Friday's games throughout the 23-county area.

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    After No. 1 and No. 2 lose, who rises to the top?

    What happens when the No. 1 and No. 2 football teams in Southeast Missouri lose on the road? That happened with the top two teams in the region over the weekend when No. 1 Farmingon lost at Helias on Saturday, less than 24 hours after No. 2 Jackson lost at Gateway Tech.

    We'll post the latest rankings of all 33 teams in the region later today after getting a little more feedback from folks who have seen both teams. If you have a thought, drop me a note here or at

    Also on today, look for photo galleries from a variety of events over the weekend: football games at Festus and Poplar Bluff, along with auto racing at Malden Speedway and a triathlon at Trail of Tears State Park in Cape Girardeau County.

    Later today, check back for an updated schedule of this week's top events, plus photos from the Valle-St. Vincent football game and the Kennett-Hayti game and updated results from weekend motorsports events at Malden and Farmington.

    On Tuesday, look for a list of the weekend's top performances from all 33 teams in the region.

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Southeast Missouri football leaders list is online

    A new high school football feature on will list every passer, rusher and receiver with more than 100 yards in any given week among our region's 33 teams — to take a look at the updated list, click here.

    We're working on the updated list of area leaders, which will be posted before Week 3 games Friday night. But at the top of two of the lists are seniors from the MAFC and upcoming Class district rivals: Kory Faulkner of Ste. Genevieve leads area passers with 512 yards, and Joey Lewondowski of Fredericktown leads rushers with 438 yards.

    And on the subject of Faulkner, his status remains day-to-day this week leading up to Friday's game at Perryville. Faulkner took a hard hit on a scoring drive in the fourth quarter in Friday's loss at Valle; in fact, the hit was so hard that it left a long-lasting imprint of a Valle player's helmet on his chest. He left the game with bruised ribs, and the Dragons lost to Valle for the first time in 10 years.

    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    SEMO, Tennessee Tech put positive spin on lopsided weekend

    Coaches and the media are doing their best to find highlights from the beatdowns that Southeast and Tennessee Tech endured heading into their Thursday matchup at Houck Stadium.

    Both teams will have had just five days to let the bruises heal after a pair of losses Saturday to FBS teams: Southeast lost 52-3 to Missouri, and Tech lost 51-10 to Louisville.

    At Tech, coach Watson Brown's Golden Eagles walked away with a fat check and a bruised ego, but Brown found the bright side: "I like the positive of doing this and letting them see what they have to do to get better. I think playing someone better than you always brings that out. When you play somebody who you're better than, you don't always find that out until it's too late."

    And SEMO, coach Tony Samuel found enthuasiasm in an offense that was held to three points: "I thought offensively we held our own against them," he said. "You could see we executed better."

    Even Southeast Missouri's print media chimed in with fervor under headlines that included "SEMO didn't look all that bad at Mizzou."

    One person who might not agree: Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel, who benched most of his team's starters for good shortly before halftime.

    Wednesday, September 03, 2008

    A look at area football leaders after Week 1

    Five questions heading into Week 2 of the high school football season:

    1. Was Jackson's one-point loss Friday a fluke? Its opponent, Riverview Gardens, was a woeful 1-9 last season and not expected to do much this year either, but the hosts blistered Jackson on offense behind quarterback Joe Williams (355 passing yards, 128 rushing yards). Jackson, ranked No. 4 in Southeast Missouri, goes back to St. Louis this week to face Parkway South.

    2. Will Sikeston and Charleston play a game for the ages to celebrate their 100th year of football? The 100th game in the series came more than 20 years ago, but because the teams played twice a year early in the series, Friday's rivalry marks 100 calendar years of competition. Both teams are 0-1 after losses last week.

    3. Will Kory Faulkner and Michael Greminger completely light up the scoreboard with big passing games Friday? The Ste. Genevieve and Valle quarterbacks combined for more than 600 yards with mixed results last week (Ste. Genevieve defeated Dexter, but Valle lost to Herculaneum). The Dragons have won the past 10 games in the series.

    4. Will anybody on the Thayer or Mountain Grove sidelines have to be reminded their teams are state-ranked heading into Friday's game? Thayer is No. 2 in Class 2, and Mountain Grove is No. 4 in Class 1. The winner gets a huge shot of confidence heading into the final eight weeks of the regular season.

    5. Is Poplar Bluff really a contender? The Mules looked good against New Madrid County Central, but it's a whole new challenge Friday at Union, the state's No. 4-ranked Class 4 team. Poplar Bluff QB Todd Bullington knows the challenge that awaits him — Union sacked Summit's quarterback seven times and intercepted him twice Friday.

    • After one week of games, three names have risen to the top of offensive charts — Faulkner at Ste. Genevieve, Brandon Bourbon at Potosi, and Jarvis Finley at Kennett. The leaders in passing, rushing and receiving, based on statistics reported so far:


    Kory Faulkner, Ste. Genevieve — 31-40, 415 yards
    Ben Mills, Dexter — 17-28, 275 yards
    Blake Parr, Kennett — 13-31, 274 yards
    Michael Greminger, Valle — 24-40, 230 yards
    Charlie Bohannon, Sikeston, 4-6, 103 yards


    Brandon Bourbon, Potosi — 21-252
    Tony Martin, Park Hills Central — 26-243
    Malcolm Smith, Herculaneum — 30-238
    Joey Lewondowski, Fredericktown — 27-183
    Josh Huckabee, Thayer — 20-171


    Jarvis Finley, Kennett — 7-179
    Josh Meyer, Ste. Genevieve — 10-131
    Dustin Noll, Ste. Genevieve — 10-106
    Cody Schmelzle, Ste. Genevieve — 4-104
    Seth McBride, Dexter — 5-86

    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    Unfortunately, Mizzou looks healthy for SEMO matchup

    The good news for Missouri is bad news for Southeast: Jeremy Maclin looks healthy and might play Saturday against SEMO.

    Maclin is MU's All-American who set an NCAA freshman record for all-purpose yards last season. He went down in the fourth quarter of Missouri's 52-42 win Saturday over Illinois, and early indications were that he broke his left ankle.

    "I want to play," Maclin said in a published story today. "I think I’ll be ready to play at 100 per­cent, if not really close."

    An MRI exam showed a strained tendon, and coach Gary Pinkel said Maclin was probable for this week's 6 p.m. home game. Maclin is likely to practice today.

    Maclin's return to the lineup adds another hurdle for Southeast, which last week had its own mettle tested in overtime against Division II Southwest Baptist.

    Southeast has played at least one Division I program each year since 2000 and has a 1-11 record to show for it (its one win in that stretch was in 2002 over Middle Tennessee State, itself a relative new kid on the Division I block).

    • A final thought: Does it seem odd that Southeast players were surprisingly celebratory after rallying to beat long-suffering Southwest Baptist, while Missouri players, by contrast, were almost morose after defeating Top 25 program Illinois?

    • Another local line: William Moore of Hayti and MU teammate Carl Gettis each led the team with 12 tackles Saturday. Moore sprained his foot in Saturday's game, but he's expected to play in the SEMO game.

    • On the high school level, three galleries are up from Friday's high school football, with at least another one likely to be posted by the end of today. Click here to see Diane Wilson's images from Ste. Genevieve vs. Dexter; click here for Andrew Amsden's photos from the Farmington vs. North County game; and click here to see photos by Keith Hente from the Scott City vs. Malden game.

    The Southeast Missouri football poll is also up and features every team in the region ranked No. 1 to 33. Click here for this week's version.

    • And finally, thanks to everybody who helped mark another small achievement Monday — our site turned 2 years old. Thanks to everybody who has played a role in helping SemoSportsWeb grow.

    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    Farmington is region's football team to beat

    Farmington finished No. 4 in Southeast Missouri last season, and the Knights were No. 1 a year earlier. And heading into Week 1, they're the team to beat this year in the football poll.

    Jackson, New Madrid County Central and Ste. Genevieve all got recommendations as the No. 1 team in our preseason poll this week, but Farmington was mentioned as the best of the best more than any other team in our 23-county region. That lands the Knights at No. 1 ahead of Jackson, NMCC, Ste. Genevieve and Poplar Bluff. Click here to check out the full 33-team poll.

    Jackson did earn a No. 1 nod this week in's top-5 poll, which doesn't include Farmington in its coverage area. Poplar Bluff is No. 2 and NMCC is No. 3.

    In the Associated Press media poll released Wednesday, Jackson is No. 2 in Class 5 (behind Lee's Summit West). Festus is No. 10 in Class 4, and Farmington was among teams that received votes. Ste. Genevieve (fourth) and NMCC (10th) were ranked in Class 3 by AP voters, while Thayer (second) and Hayti (seventh) are ranked in Class 1.

    Looking ahead to Friday's openers, a few intriguing matchups stand out, and check back Friday night for updated scores and then again over the weekend for photo galleries from at least four games.

    At Ste. Genevieve, the Dragons and heavily recruited quarterback Kory Faulkner host Dexter and returning quarterback Ben Mills in what could turn into a high-scoring matchup.

    At Fredericktown, the Blackcats host Sikeston and former coach Kent Gibbs, who left Fredericktown for the Sikeston job after the 2006 season.

    Just up the road, top-ranked Farmington goes to North County in what was for years a conference rivalry; Farmington left its old league for the SEMO Conference North Division this season.

    Also Friday, Scott City hosts Malden in one of the SEMO South's most competitive and long-running rivalries.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    Football teams count down the days to Friday jamborees

    Several fields across Southeast Missouri will host high school football Friday, the first real glimpse into what the next several weeks might hold in store.

    Formats vary slightly from one location to the next depending on how many teams are involved, but look for each squad to get in at least 15 to 20 offensive and defensive plays Friday.

    A twist this year: Teams will have had just two weeks of organized practice when they hit the field Friday. The preseason was shortened by a week because of an extra round of games added to the postseason, and that could mean a less polished look for several teams that still might become playoff contenders in October.

    Friday's schedule:

    At Dexter: Dexter, Kennett, Portageville, Scott City

    At East Prairie: East Prairie, NMCC, Perryville, Sikeston

    At Farmington, 6 p.m.: Cape Girardeau Central, Poplar Bluff, St. Clair

    At Farmington, 7:30: Farmington, Jackson, Union

    At Festus: Festus, Lutheran North, Maplewood-Richmond Heights

    At Hillsboro, 6: Lafayette, Northwest, Rockwood Summit, Vianney

    At Hillsboro, 7:30: Affton, Hillsboro, Lutheran South

    At Malden: Chaffee, Charleston, Fredericktown, Malden

    At Ste. Genevieve, 6: DeSoto, Park Hills Central, Ste. Genevieve, Valle

    At Ste. Genevieve, 8: Crystal City, Grandview, St. Pius X, St. Vincent

    At Sullivan: Houston, North County, Pacific, Salem, Sullivan, Warrenton

    At Thayer: Cabool, Liberty, Thayer, Willow Springs

    Saturday, July 26, 2008

    What are the top football teams in Southeast Missouri this season?

    High school football opens with preseason jamborees in just a month, and speculation about Southeast Missouri's top teams is already in full swing.

    There's plenty of talk about Farmington, Poplar Bluff and New Madrid County Central being among the teams to beat this season, but who's your pick? Give me your feedback over the next three weeks while we put together our annual preseason poll of Southeast Missouri's 33 football programs, which we'll post in time for the first games of the season Aug. 29 (click here for a full 2008 schedule for all 33 area teams).

    It's definitely interesting to revisit last season's rankings and see how the preseason poll, which featured Farmington at No. 1, compared to the final poll of the season, which put Jackson at No. 1.

    And while we're talking about last season, here's a look back at the week-by-week scores for the region's 33 teams, along with the list of photo galleries from 25 games across Southeast Missouri.

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Who's going where? We've got the lists

    It doesn't take long to lose track of coaches and athletes coming and going from one school to another this time of year. Coaches are shuffling from one school to another, and dozens of high school athletes in the area already have committed to colleges just in the past few weeks.

    That's why we're putting together what likely will be the most comprehensive list of names online. On our home page, under the HighSchoolHQ logo, are links to extensive lists of high school coaching changes, along with college signings among local athletes.

    It's an ongoing process, and we'll update the list almost daily as names come in and paperwork is signed. If you know of a coach or athlete who's made a move that we've missed, and he or she is from any of the schools in Southeast Missouri's 23-county area, drop me an e-mail ( or post it here.

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Would you hire B.J. Smith to coach your basketball team?

    It's a not-so-rare dilemma facing Casper College's search committee this week.

    They want a coach that wins. They want a coach that plays by the rules. They want a coach the community and team can root for, cheer for and play for.

    But do they want B.J. Smith?

    The former SEMO women's basketball coach interviewed for the vacant job Monday at the Wyoming junior college. The school is a proven winner just like Smith, who showed his junior college abilities in Oklahoma, then took SEMO to its first NCAA Tournament appearance.

    But it wasn't long before the bottom fell out for Smith and, in turn, Southeast. The school trudged through a lengthy NCAA investigation that turned up a laundry list of violations that, barring a successful appeal, will wipe out all 79 wins under Smith, along with that NCAA Tournament trip.

    And now it's gut-check time for those with the hiring power at Casper, including athletic director Bill Landen, whose comments to the Casper Star-Tribune were complimentary of Smith, but short of glowing.

    "No question, B.J.'s resume just pops out," Landen said. "He's obviously coached at a very high level."

    True on both points, but not entirely in a good way.

    By the time the NCAA is finished with Smith and SEMO, there could be more asterisks than wins on Smith's resume. They'll have to buy Bic Wite-Out by the gallon to cover up all the wins and accomplishments over that four-year stretch. He'll join Ron Shumate in the "Let's Just Pretend He Was Never Here" section of the media guide.

    If you're Landen, and if you're looking down the road at making the best choice for Casper College and its women's basketball program, is Smith your man?

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    The week that was: Rain, rain and more rain

    Here's a word of advice: If the sun's out, get to an outdoor event and enjoy it today and Tuesday. That hasn't happened often lately, and there's more rain in the forecast this week.

    It was so wet last week that SemoSportsWeb photogs were set to photograph five different events ranging from high school baseball to track to local auto racing. Our plans were wiped out by rain each time.

    We'll try again this week with district baseball tournaments set to wrap up with finals Wednesday and Thursday at several area sites (check the calendar on our home page for the locations and times).

    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    Local small schools shine in final regular-season baseball poll

    Four schools from Southeast Missouri are among the top 10 in the state in Class 2, according to the new MHSBCA poll released Saturday.

    The rankings were released by the coaches' group less than 24 hours before many schools across the state begin district tournaments Saturday.

    In Class 2, West County (fourth), Clearwater (fifth), Twin Rivers (ninth) and Scott City (10th) fill spots.

    Southeast Missouri teams also fare well in Class 1: Oran is No. 4 and Valle No. 6, while Cooter, Saxony Lutheran and Winona all received votes and finished outside the top 10.

    No teams ranked in the Class 3 or Class 4 top 10, although Festus received votes in Class 3.

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    Freeman, Jiminez, Walker leave Poplar Bluff with AFC titles

    Three championships were decided Saturday in Absolute Fighting Challenge's mixed martial arts event in Poplar Bluff.
    Jeremy Freeman (135 lbs.), Chris Walker (145) and Justin Jiminez (205) all walked out with titles from the event, the group's first in the area since appearing two months ago in Cape Girardeau. It's the final AFC event before the group returns June 28 at the Kennett American Legion building.
    Photos from the event will be posted at photographer Tom Kitchen's personal site here, or look back at Keith Hente's photos from January's event at A.C. Brase arena on SemoSportsWeb here.

    Saturday's full rundown:
    • Freeman defeated Levi Young at 135.
    • Jiminez of Reapers MMA defeated Jason Aldridge of Team Evolution in the first round of the 205 match.
    • Walker of Team Beatdown defeated Brian Raymond of Caruthersville MMA via knockout in Round 2 in 145.
    Jonathan Day of Joiner, Ark., defeated Jeremy Sailing of Team Rick Hufford after Sailing was disqualified.
    Gary Freeman of Team Beatdown defeated Tom Taylor of Joiner, Ark., in a first-round knockout in 205.
    James Evans of Team Pitbull defeated Kyle Jones of Team Beatdown after verbal tapout in the second round of their heavyweight fight.
    Jeremy Larkin of Team Devastation beat T.J. Kitchen of Team Xtreme after their fight was stopped because of successive blows in 155.
    Jamell Austin of Cape Girardeau won by unanimous decision over Chris Gregory of Poplar Bluff in 170.
    Tim Smith of Caruthersville MMA won by tapout over Dustin Brace of Team Punishment in 185.
    Robert Gloyd of Team Evolution defeated Eric Ainsworth of Joiner, Ark., in 200.
    Dillon Goodman of Team Rick Hufford defeated Danny Andrews of Team Evolution at 165.
    • Heavyweight Nick Tucker of Caruthersville MMA defeated Shannon Chandler of Team Evolution.
    Michael Foster of Team Devastation defeated Dave Brown of Reapers MMA in 155.
    Dexter Anderson of Team Xtreme defeated Jimmy Sanchez of Team Gladiator after a stoppage because of strikes in 155.
    Dale Minner of Hit Squad defeated Joseph Asano of Team Xtreme in a first-round knockout in 185.
    Brant Bristow of Team Beatdown defeated Ryan Walker in a first-round TKO in a 185-pound grudge fight.

    Monday, April 28, 2008

    West County, Oran, Valle among region's top-ranked baseball teams

    The latest Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association poll includes only two teams that moved up: Saxony Lutheran and Valle.

    Saxony moved into the Class 1 rankings released Friday. The Crusaders sit at No. 9 behind Oran and Valle, which are tied at No. 4. Oran was No. 3 in the previous poll two weeks earlier, while Valle was No. 5.

    Both Cooter and Winona dropped out of the top 10.

    In Class 2, West County is highest among area teams at No. 4 (down from No. 3), Clearwater is No. 6 (down from No. 5), Scott City is No. 8 (down from No. 7) and Twin Rivers is No. 9 (down from No. 6).

    In Class 3, Festus is No. 10, just as it was two weeks ago.

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    DeWitt likely staying on the Dodgers roster for a while

    Sikeston High School grad Blake DeWitt is expected to stay on the roster for a while despite the return of Nomar Garciaparra, the all-star DeWitt replaced.

    DeWitt was called up to the major league team for the first time in his career at the start of this season when Garciaparra and another third-baseman, Andy LaRoche, were injured. DeWitt has started every game since then.

    But Garciaparra's nagging injury to his right wrist means that he will see limited playing time, leaving DeWitt a spot on the team. Garciaparra is expected to be activated for a five-game trip that starts Friday.

    Manager Joe Torre said a short-term solution to create the roster space for Garciaparra would be to go from 12 to 11 pitchers, according to a Los Angeles Times story.

    Asked if Garciaparra could share time with DeWitt, Torre told the Times: "I think we have to see what (Garciaparra) can do physically."

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Good luck keeping up with the Hansbroughs

    Who would have guessed that brothers Ben and Tyler Hansbrough both would have us watching and waiting their next move in the very same week?

    But with Ben weighing his options after an unhappy exit from Mississippi State, and with Tyler weighing his options after an unsatisfying exit from the NCAA Tournament last week, there's plenty of discussion about where the two basketball-playing Poplar Bluff High grads will land and why.

    From the Asheville Citizen-Times comes news that Hansbrough met with North Carolina coach Roy Williams about a potential leap into the NBA. Click here for that story, and then click here to read an observation from the Raleigh News & Observer listing the reasons Hansbrough should come back for his final season as a Tar Heel.

    And on the Ben front, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal writer Greg Ellis wonders about the growing list of defections from the Mississippi State program, including that of Hansbrough (who curiously cited as one of his reasons the lack of practice time at Humphrey Coliseum, which is often booked with other non-sports events).

    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    Diving into the first edition of the SemoSportsWeb all-sports standings

    Two of its teams won state championships. Two more reached the state semifinals. Another won a district trophy.

    All things considered, it's no wonder Notre Dame leads the first installment of our SemoSportsWeb all-sports standings.

    Using a formula put together years ago by the Des Moines Register newspaper for its own all-sports standings, we combed through 2007-'08 playoff results from every sport sanctioned by the MSHSAA and awarded points to each of the 85 schools in our region.

    The formula awards 10 points to a state champion, 8 to a runnerup, etc., all the way down to 2 points for a sectional qualifier and 1 for a regional qualifier. The system also takes into account sports such as wrestling and golf, which use team point standings instead of brackets.

    The result: Notre Dame leads with 34 points based on sports completed so far, with baseball, girls soccer, boys and girls track, boys tennis and boys golf still to go.

    Herculaneum is second with 20 (thanks to its sweep of the boys and girls cross country meet), and Farmington is third with 12.

    Crystal City, Jackson, Potosi and St. Vincent are tied at fourth with 10 points each. Festus is next with 9. Nine schools (Delta, Hayti, NMCC, Ste. Genevieve, Saxony Lutheran, Scott County Central, South Iron, Thayer and Winona) have 8 points each.

    Thirty-nine schools have scored points so far based on playoff appearances.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    Notre Dame's title is a sure thing, but not everybody is convinced

    Asking for input in the final SEMO Top 25 basketball poll of the season led to comments that ran from one extreme to the other.

    So, when you're looking at the poll dated March 17 keep in mind that some people I've talked to say that the Class 4 state champion Bulldogs ended the season as, hands down, the best team out of about 85 boys programs in our region.

    On the other hand, others counter and say that even at its best, Notre Dame wouldn't have beaten Jackson, so Jackson should be the default No. 1. Or maybe there's an argument that Scott County Central would have beaten them all, given the opportunity. Then there's South Iron, the only team in the region that won 30 games this season.

    Coming up with the final Top 25 was a chore, but it wound up as a pretty good look at which teams ended strong, which ones didn't, and which ones have momentum when the time comes to do this all again in November.

    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    Updates from Bell City: The head coach is ...

    Brian Brandtner is still the boys basketball coach at Bell City. I've had no luck reaching Brandtner on his cell phone since the rumor first started, but principal Matt Asher confirmed that Brandtner's job status has not changed. Brandtner also is the athletic director at Bell City.

    The speculation that Brandtner was fired appeared to begin on a message board at earlier this week.

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Is it Hale's final day as Notre Dame's coach?

    Notre Dame boys basketball coach Paul Hale will step up to a microphone Wednesday afternoon and confirm that he will retire.

    The school scheduled a news conference at 3 p.m. Wednesday to address rumors that have circulated for much of the season. Hale is expected to formally announce he's leaving the job he held for four seasons; he won his first state championship as a coach last week in Notre Dame's win over St. Charles West, and he'll finish his career just short of 600 wins.

    Assistant coach Kevin Roberts is expected to be introduced as Hale's replacement.

    Also drawing attention late Tuesday was speculation of Brian Brandtner's departure as Bell City's boys basketball coach. Brandtner just finished his third season at the school and led the Cubs deep into the Class 1 playoffs his two three seasons, although Bell City lost to Jefferson each year (both times in the championship). The Cubs lost to Scott County Central in this season's sectional round.

    A message left on Brandtner's cell phone Tuesday hasn't been returned, and high school principal Matt Asher couldn't be reached at his home Tuesday night to confirm Brandtner's status.

    Interestingly, Brandtner is a former assistant coach at Notre Dame. There's talk that his rumored departure from Bell City would make him a candidate at Notre Dame, although that doesn't appear likely.

    Look for updates here on both the Bell City and Notre Dame coaching jobs tomorrow.

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    High marks for Arcadia Valley, memories for South Iron

    Arcadia Valley's girls basketball season ended in the sectional round last week, but its list of accomplishments this season were impressive.

    First, the Tigers were 10-0 in the MAAA's small division. Its 23-5 overall record landed it as high as No. 3 in the state rankings.

    And a standout individual accomplishment: Senior Kassie Walker became the first girls basketball player from the MAAA in 18 years to score 2,000points in her high school career.

    Walker reached the mark on a layup just before halftime against Grandview in the district tournament.

    • A story in Saturday's Daily Journal spotlighted South Iron's inspired drive to its first Class 2 final four since 1995. If you see a "42" stitched into players' socks, ironed onto fans' shirts or painted onto faces, it's part of the dedication to teammate Ethan Riggs, who died in a car crash Sept. 22. Read the Journal's full story here, and see 40 game and celebration photos from the Panthers' win Saturday on our photo page here.

    • With South Iron and Scott County Central still going strong in the boys state playoffs, we'll post Southeast Missouri's season-ending Top 25 poll Monday, March 17. We'll also end a great season for area girls teams (Delta is the region's final team still competing for a title) with our first girls basketball rankings, which will continue regularly next season.

    And on the subject of polls, look for our first-ever SEMO high school baseball rankings next week. The spring sports season will start Monday across the region, weather permitting.

    Wednesday, March 05, 2008

    Predicting tonight's boys sectional round

    Scott County Central's boys are in. Delta's girls are in.

    But the biggest questions about the sectional success of Southeast Missouri teams will be answered tonight when 12 teams from the area shoot for a spot in the quarterfinal round.

    The most intriguing matchups are on the boys side, where two games pit local teams in head-to-head meetings. At Poplar Bluff, Doniphan and New Madrid County Central meet in Class 3, and just up the road at TRCC, Hayti and South Iron meet in Class 2.

    Both sites feature similar matchups, but expect different outcomes. NMCC has developed into a disciplined team with confidence. Hayti hasn't been able to consistently get the most from its talent down the stretch, and it's been costly in key games. Tonight is one of those key games.

    NMCC and Hayti might not even be the biggest physical tests for Doniphan or South Iron, but there's never been more pressure on any of those four teams than right now, and South Iron's spot at No. 1 in the Class 2 state poll adds to its expectations.

    In Class 3 at Poplar Bluff: NMCC by 3 over Doniphan. In Class 2 at TRCC, South Iron by 6 over Hayti.

    Also in Class 3, Crystal City coasted through its district to earn a spot against Maplewood coach Corey Frazier, a '94 Charleston alum, in a game at Jefferson College. The game pits Maplewood's blistering offense against Crystal City's stout defense, and both teams ride solid winning streaks. The winner gets another SEMO challenge with either NMCC or Doniphan on Saturday.

    At Jefferson College: Maplewood by 10.

    At Park Hills Central, Saxony Lutheran expected to face Wellston, but unlikely New Haven escaped from that district in an upset. Sure, this isn't the same Saxony team of the past, proven by its first-ever district championship last week. This version of the Crusaders has a sting, but on a statewide level, it's still the new kid on the block. At Park Hills: New Haven by 12.

    Tonight's girls games have potential for a pair of surprises, but don't look for a shocker in the bunch. OK, maybe one.

    In Class 3 at Jefferson College, defending state champ Metro has faced a season of large-school tests and, aside from a new nicks and scrapes, fared well. Arcadia Valley has had a season to remember and a lofty state ranking, but good things come to an end. At Jefferson College: Metro by 18.

    Down the road at Park Hills, St. Vincent and Clopton meet in Class 2. We saw this same matchup a year ago when St. Vincent lost by more than 20 points. This time at Park Hills: Clopton by 16.

    Two girls games feature matchups of local teams, both of them at Poplar Bluff. In Class 2 at TRCC: Naylor by 15 over Van Buren. In Class 3 at Poplar Bluff: Portageville by 5 over Greenville.

    Monday, February 25, 2008

    The final hurdle before our all-sport standings are ready

    I gave a quick mention of it in one of Mark Unterreiner's blog replies, but I'm looking for your opinion on how to fine-tune our new all-sports standings, which we'll post for the first time as soon as the winter sports season wraps up.

    The purpose is, much like in the OVC, to reward schools with a set number of points based on finishes in state team sports. That means a team that wins a state title gets 10 points, a team that finishes second gets 9 points, and so on. A school's point total is then divided by the number of sports teams it has. Make sense?

    We'll probably break it into small-school and large-school divisions to try and keep schools matched up with similar-sized programs.

    Now, the question: The MSHSAA sanctions a variety of competitions, from speech and debate to music and cheerleading. Do those count as part of our all-sport standings?

    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    Snow and ice set up a busy day Saturday

    The official word came around noon that district games tonight at Farmington and Perryville are off. That sets up Class 4 district semifinals for girls teams are at 6 and 7:30 p.m. Friday night at both sites.

    Championships are now set for Saturday at Farmington (boys at 1 p.m., girls at 2:30) and at Perryville (girls at 2, boys at 6), along with Class 5 district finals Friday night at Jackson (boys at 6, girls at 7:30).

    That's a schedule based on the assumption that the snow and ice will begin to taper off early Friday as predicted. If roads are still slick late Friday, all bets are off.

    As it stands, the lineup for Saturday includes championships at Farmington and Perryville, along with district openers for Southeast Missouri teams in Classes 1 to 3 at Chaffee, Greenville, Holcomb, Mansfield, Portageville, Van Buren and Zalma.

    The new opponent in local district tournaments: Snow and ice

    So much for a smooth week of district basketball tournaments.

    The ice and snow that moved in earlier this morning has juggled today's schedule of games and threatens to affect more games. The longer the icy weather lingers, the messier the schedule could get.

    The status of Class 4 District 1 games at Perryville should be known around noon, according to a spokesperson at the Perry Park Center. Tentatively, girls semifinals are tonight at 6 and 7:30.

    At Jackson, semifinals were completed Wednesday, so it was an easy call to move tonight's boys championship to Friday and set up a boys and girls doubleheader at 6 and 7:30 p.m.

    At Farmington, a spokesman at the Farmington Civic Center said at 11:15 a.m. that there's been no change to the schedule of the Class 4 District 2 tournament today, so that means girls semifinals are (so far) still on for tonight with finals Friday.

    The forecast doesn't look encouraging, though: It calls for ice and snow across the area through early Friday.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008

    Finally, the countdown to what everybody's talked about

    I like the odds of Notre Dame and Sikeston facing off for a Class 4 district championship Friday, but Monday's first-round games should start the week on a competitive high note.

    Perry Park Center hosts two boys basketball games Monday, the first day of district tournaments for Class 4 and 5 teams. A Sikeston-Notre Dame rematch for the district championship has been written on schedules almost since Notre Dame won last year's title in a two-point finish, and a loss by either team before Friday's championship game would qualify as possibly the biggest surprise of the basketball season.

    But first, two games are Monday: Ste. Genevieve vs. Dexter at 6 p.m., and Fredericktown vs. Perryville at 7.

    Down the road, Jackson hosts the Class 5 District 1 tournament that starts Monday. Opening-day games: Cape Girardeau Central plays Fox at 5:30, and Hillsboro plays Seckman at 7.

    More games are lined up each day through the week, including first-round girls games Tuesday.

    Rather than duplicate every bracket involving more than 80 teams across our area, check out this link for several brackets already posted at Rivals' site.

    Check back for scores all week, which are posted as soon as possible after the games. If you're at the game, you can send scores from your cell phone via text message to (573) 979-5929, or e-mail them to

    • Also coming this week are dozens of images from the three-day state high school wrestling finals in Columbia, which ended Saturday. We'll be adding photos by photographer Kirby Laws of several competitors from across the region, including our area's two state champs: Jake Vonderbruegge of Hillsboro and Craig Wilson of Farmington.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Should women be allowed to officiate boys games?

    A story on today's cover of the Kansas City Star raises a question that probably hasn't come up in years.

    Should women be permitted to officiate boys events?

    It seems like a silly question in an age when girls compete in boys sports, women coach boys events, and men coach girls events. In the classroom, men and women stand at the head of classes often made up evenly of male and female students.

    But according to the Star, a female basketball official was removed from a basketball game just minutes before tip-off a few days ago. The reason: It was a boys game, and she's a woman.

    The Kansas State High School Activities Association is still looking into the reasons behind the host school's decision to pull her from the game. The school is St. Mary's Academy, a private religion-based school northwest of Topeka. And according to the school official that essentially fired the referee before the game started, the school doesn't believe women should hold positions of authority over boys.

    The Star said school officials wouldn't comment to the newspaper. One question that begs to be asked: Is it OK, under the school's policy, for women to instruct male students in the classroom? According to the Star, it must be, because some St. Mary's classes that feature boys are taught by women.

    The referee, Michelle Campbell, has plenty of support. The game's other referee — a man — walked off the court with her, and a backup referee — also male — declined to work the game because of the school's action.

    It's startling to see a school cling to a belief system that prevents women from holding positions of authority over men, but it's good to see that not everybody buys into their lack of logic.

    Sunday, February 10, 2008

    Dozens from Southeast Missouri head to state wrestling finals

    More than four dozen wrestlers will go to Columbia this week to compete for state championships after they advanced from district meets Saturday.

    Events at the Mizzou Arena start Thursday with two sessions consisting of 336 matches in each session. Class 1 and 2 wrestlebacks starts at 10 a.m., and the opening round for Classes 3 and 4 starts at 5.

    Events continue all day Friday and Saturday. Catch finals Saturday on the MSHSAA's live video feed at

    Farmington and Ste. Genevieve each will send 10 wrestlers to the final meet of the season, followed by Jackson with seven. In all, 13 area schools are represented in the three-day finale.

    Here are the Southeast Missouri wrestlers who earned shots at next weekend championships, listed by school:

    Cape Girardeau Central: Zach Wilson (160), Trey Grovener (285).

    DeSoto: Gerald Fields (103), Josh Newbury (140), Neal Finch (171), Jeremy Elless (189), Dakota Smith (215), Chris Casey (285).

    Dexter: Brittney Waldner (103), Mikey Henley (119).

    Farmington: Todd Brackett (103), Bradley Wisdom (125), Josh Kelleher (130), Branden McDowell (135), Nicholas Hoehn (140), Craig Wilson (145), Kyle Sullivan (152), Derek Smallen (160), Jon Gurule (171), Kendall May (215).

    Herculaneum: Josh Lott (171), Dan Bunch (189).

    Hillsboro: Craig Chiles (119), Jake Vonderbruegge (152), Josh Sheppard (189), Matt Atley (285).

    Jackson: Levi Rayburn (103), Doug Froemsdorf (125), Jamie Schumacher (145), Justin Miller (152), Michael Riney (171), Justin Darnell (189), Blake Peiffer (215).

    New Madrid County Central: Patrick Goforth (160).

    North County: Brock Harrison (112), Seth Revelle (119), Cody Compton (152), Tayler Decker (160).

    Park Hills Central: Mike King (119), Tyler Friend (215).

    Poplar Bluff: Zach Surque (112), Brandon Bounds (125), Paul Swesey (189), Kelton Thompson (215), Dylan Janes (285).

    Ste. Genevieve: Jesse Martinelli (103), Jordan Ritter (112), Kevin Leclere (119), Matt Kraenzle (125), Gary Schenz (130), Aaron Wehner (140), Chris Petty (152), John Vogt (160), Tyler Thomure (171), Jake Gegg (189).

    Sikeston: Jacob Murphy (112), Gavilan Bland (171).

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008

    As the weather goes, so goes basketball

    Less than a week ago it was snow. Today, it's severe thunderstorms. And both times, high school basketball games in surrounding states have been called off.

    In particular, schools across western Tennessee are serious about the National Weather Service's advisory that strong storms might produce tornadoes in Missouri and several surrounding states. The Memphis Commercial-Appeal and Jackson (Tenn.) Sun both have lists of tonight's games that were called off early in the day because of potential storms (and that's in addition to schools and even the University of Memphis that released early because of the threat).

    So far, there's no word of Southeast Missouri games being called off tonight, but it raises a question: Should schools call off indoor events when there's a threat of severe thunderstorms?

    Sunday, February 03, 2008

    Bell City is on a roll through its '08 schedule

    Contender or pretender?

    On a cold, starry night in Annapolis, the one thing South Iron proved was that Bell City was 12 points better.

    Once Bell City went ahead early in the second quarter, South Iron looked like a team playing from behind, not a good sign for a team that had won 18 straight games heading into its biggest test of the season.

    But Saturday's game could be one that puts both teams on track for a late-season push into the playoffs. South Iron won't see many teams this season with the intensity and the confidence that Bell City showed Saturday, and Bell City needed a win like this one to beef up its nine-game winning streak (which follows a 1-2 showing in its Christmas tournament).

    And with South Iron's first loss in the books, and a decisive loss by No. 1 Jackson at Charleston last week, we're back to square one looking for Southeast Missouri's best boys basketball team.

    Jackson's claim is a lopsided win Jan. 22 against Sikeston. But that doesn't help the memory of losses to Salem, Holt and Jefferson City (plus two to Charleston) go away.

    South Iron, No. 2 last week, owns cornerstone wins over St. Clair and Farmington on the way to winning its Christmas tournament at Farmington. A loss to Bell City already has doubters standing in line to say its schedule lacks a punch and puts it a notch below teams with more losses, including SEMO Conference leaders Charleston, Notre Dame and Sikeston.

    Sikeston, No. 3 last week, lost to Jackson by 25 points just two weeks ago. Wins over Kelly, Portageville and Poplar Bluff in the days since have put the Bulldogs back on a winning streak.

    Notre Dame, No. 4 last week, hasn't lost since a two-point defeat to Jackson on Jan. 11. Among its January wins was a 25-point defeat of Charleston, plus a squeaker over Cape Girardeau Central.

    Scott County Central, No. 5 last week, has had a more consistent January than any team in the region, but its only test since its Christmas tournament was a nine-point game against Scott City. A game Friday against NMCC was postponed.

    The rest? No. 6 Charleston is unpredictable, while No. 7 Thayer is on a roll and turned a potential showdown with Salem into a blowout Friday. Doniphan and Bell City are next, and neither has lost in January. Hayti rounds out last week's top 10.

    We'll have our new poll posted by midday Monday. And so far, No. 1 is anybody's guess.

    Sunday, January 27, 2008

    How badly does Central want Carl Gross?

    How would Carl Gross look in an orange and black sweater on the Cape Girardeau Central sideline?

    The folks in charge of hiring Central's football coach would love to find out, and as sure as it's another cold Missouri day in January, they'd like to make it happen.

    Central needs a winner. Not a coach, but a winner. The football program that's been stuck in mediocrity mode on the field for a couple of decades is tired of being just anther checkmark on the schedule of its 10 opponents. Gross, whose roots go deep in Cape Girardeau and at Central, was mentioned more within minutes after nine-year Lawrence Brookins was given his door prize and told to close the door behind him just weeks ago.

    Gross told the local print media this weekend that his abrupt resignation as a coach and science teacher Thursday came after a couple of years of thought and planning. It was just time, he said. It was time to leave after 19 seasons and a list of district championships, SEMO Conference titles and statewide recognition. And, accoding to Gross, his resignation letter Thursday, January 24 was the result of two years of thought and planning.

    But coaches don't clean out their desks in the middle of the week in January on a whim. They don't leave without telling their team goodbye. They don't assign a science project on Thursday and decide to not show up the next day. Or ever.

    Even a minimum-wage restaurant employee is expected to give a two-week notice. Gross didn't just drive out of the Jackson High School parking lot. He left tire marks.

    Gross described to the media his image of a carefree life of hunting and fishing and taking long afternoon naps in a La-Z-Boy. But he knows Central is on the hunt for a winner. And he knows he's on Central's list.

    Central would love a chance to lure away Jackson's most prized coach and snub its nose at its conference rival across Interstate 55. It would be one of the biggest spitballs ever fired in the Central-Jackson history, and it would hit Indians fans square in the face.

    The question isn't whether Central wants Carl Gross. The question is whether Carl Gross wants Central.

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Ten games to see before the season ends

    Let's face it, Jackson vs. Sikeston Part II was a dud. Tuesday's other two big ones — Malden at Charleston and Lesterville at South Iron — were better, but hardly nail-biters.

    So now the question: What are the 10 boys basketball games to start looking forward to now?

    Get out your calendars. Here we go.

    January 29: North County at Fredericktown, Jackson at Charleston. We've seen both of these games already, both times in early-season tournaments on neutral courts. Fredericktown defeated North County by three points in Illinois, and Charleston knocked off Jackson at the SEMO Conference Tournament. Expect loud crowds and a packed house for these two.

    February 1: Thayer at Salem. They might not be competing for the lead in the South Central Association (where Willow Springs since in the top spot), but that won't diminish the stakes. Thayer's only loss was to state-ranked Willow Springs, and Salem has tournaments titles from Farmington and St. James to its credit.

    February 2: Bell City at South Iron. Both teams can move, both teams can run, so there's the potential for a high-scoring, small-school shootout in South Iron's final home game of the season. There's also a chance the two will be a combined 37-2 heading into this one.

    February 5: Clarkton at Malden, Cape Girardeau Central vs. Jackson. Both feature nearby rivals going head-to-head. Clarkton and Malden have spent the entire season in our Top 25 poll, and Central faces Jackson for the third time since late November (Jackson owns 58-54 and 58-38 wins so far), this time at the Show Me Center.

    February 12: Malden at Doniphan, Hayti at Bell City. It's the time of year for teams to gain momentum heading toward district playoffs. A wins in either of these games will be a big lift.

    February 15: Portageville at NMCC. Until the late '90s, these two rarely met on a basketball court. But this year's version of the annual game between the New Madrid County schools is likely to feature a pair of Top 25 teams, not to mention bragging rights.

    February 21: Kingston at Grandview.
    Futility? Just ask either one of these teams. Kingston ended a losing streak at 97 games when it defeated Grandview in December. Grandview, which hasn't won yet this season, will look for payback on its home court in the teams' second meeting of the season. It won't mean much in the standings, but this should be one of the most emotional games of the year.

    Sunday, January 20, 2008

    A chance for the real Jackson and Sikeston to step forward

    It doesn't get much better than a showdown featuring the No. 1 and No. 2 boys basketball teams in Southeast Missouri. It happens for the second time of the season Tuesday.

    No. 1 Sikeston goes to No. 2 Jackson in a rematch of Jackson's 74-69 overtime win in the SEMO Conference Tournament on Dec. 6 at Sikeston's field house. Sikeston was also part of this season's only other matchup of teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the SemoSportsWeb Top 25; in that one, No. 2 Sikeston rolled past No. 1 Notre Dame in the SEMO Conference third-place game.

    Sikeston has held mostly steady since a 2-1 run through the Poplar Bluff Showdown just after Christmas, with all of its wins coming against teams that have been in the Top 25 much of the season (Charleston, Fredericktown, Scott City and Farmington).

    Since winning its Christmas tournament, Jackson owns wins over Woodland, Notre Dame and Poplar Bluff, with a pair of blemishes to Jefferson City and Parkway South.

    A few other things to look for this week:

    • South Iron gets its unbeaten record tested Tuesday against Lesterville, then again Saturday against Potosi. The Panthers' matchup against Bell City on Feb. 2 has the potential to be one of the region's top small-school pairings of the season.

    And speaking of South Iron: If the Panthers keep winning, do they have a claim to the No. 2 spot in the next poll behind the winner of Tuesday's Sikeston-Jackson showdown?

    • The girls game of the week: Fredericktown and Farmington are unbeaten in the MAAA large-school division, and on Thursday the teams meet for the lead in the conference and the top seed in the upcoming league tournament. It's one of several big events on this week's schedule; check the full list on our home page.

    • Also on the home page, check out the latest (and exclusive) basketball galleries from SemoSportsWeb photographers. There are almost two dozen images from Saturday's West County-Park Hills Central game, plus more from Ste. Genevieve vs. North County, Bunker vs. Clearwater and Malden vs. Hayti. Click here so see the full list of sports and events photographed this season; we've posted images of 62 different area high school and college teams in 39 events so far since winter sports started in late November.

    This week, look for galleries from Tuesday's Sikeston-Jackson game and the South Iron-Lesterville matchup, along with Ste. Genevieve-Farmington wrestling Tuesday and more later in the week.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    From the mailbag comes these burning questions ...

    You noticed that handy box labeled "Feedback" on the left side of almost every page on our site? It leads to a lot of interesting comments from visitors to our site. Some of the best from the new year so far:

    Wow, it's not totally obvious that the people that make the top 25 are from ND ... the hate for Scott City is glaring ... they beat #12, owned #21, and have their only losses against #1, 2 & 6. Scott City has been one of the teams in the Top 25 that's been hard to guage all season. The Rams beat Bell City and Saxony Lutheran, but the lopsided losses to Jackson, Scott County Central and Sikeston raised red flags. As for anybody from Notre Dame affecting the poll: We get feedback and input from a lot of different people, whether it's fans, coaches or athletes. Nobody at Notre Dame has more say than anybody else. And as for me, I'm a Charleston grad.

    I think you should list JV scores. Good idea, although sometimes we have our hands full just tracking down varsity scores from more than 80 high schools in our region. Our next step is to make varsity girls basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball and other sports a bigger part of our site. Once we clear that hurdle, we'll move on to JV. Until then, it's easy for anybody to post scores and info from any sport, and any team, in our message board.

    You only cover SE Missouri? Come to St. Louis. That's where it's all at. As soon as they finish the work on U.S. 40.

    Get your head out of the sand. New Madrid is a top 25 team. Just wait and see in the playoffs. Check the new poll. The win over Charleston last week sealed their spot in the Top 25, at least for now.

    Do your monkeys that make your poll every week all have Notre Dame jerseys on? If only they made them in a chimpanzee size.