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 MoSports.com 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.