Friday, May 29, 2009

A good week for local baseball (and basketball, too)

Southeast Missouri will have at least three teams in the state baseball tournament, and there's a chance two more can join the list today when Notre Dame and Salem each host Class 3 quarterfinals.

Already, Cooter (Class 1), DeSoto (Class 4) and Valle (Class 2) will represent the region in next week's semifinals at Meador Field in Springfield. Both Cooter and Valle rank among the top 10 in Southeast Missouri, but DeSoto's postseason march might be the most surprising — the Dragons were just below .500 as the fifth seed heading into the district tournament, but put together a string of upsets that included wins over the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the state coaches poll.

• 20 Southeast Missouri high school seniors will get one final taste of high school competition this weekend in Columbia as part of a state all-star game.

The Missouri Basketball Coaches Association picked 10-player rosters for eight regional teams that will play a tournament format starting today. Each roster included five alternates, all of them seniors. Finals are Saturday, and all games are at Columbia College.

The game replaces the the former MOBCA all-star game that was played each year in Springfield.

Southeast Missouri's boys team, coached by Sikeston Greg Holifield, features Austin Brewer of Eminence, Zach Curry of Bernie, Donald Dixon of Charleston, Lance Miller of Farmington, Austin Greer of Notre Dame, Josh Minner of NMCC, Michael Porter of Sikeston, Riley Raulston of Poplar Bluff, Drew Thomas of Scott County Central, and Byron Wright of Portageville.

The girls team, coached by Sheila Midgett of Jackson, consists of Molly Barnes of Farmington, Jeleea Drake of Portageville, Alex Fowler of Notre Dame, Debra Hall of Kelly, Katelyn Heil of Dexter, Cheslea Knight of Meadow Heights, Taylor Jansen of Farmington, Jodi Menz of Delta, Jill Temples of Dexter, and Brittany Walker of Portageville.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

How do you rile up a conference? Bring back David Heeb

He's proven he's a great coach and has the state championships to back it up. But David Heeb's return to Southeast Missouri is sure to stir up dust that took a long time to settle.

Heeb will return to Southeast Missouri in the fall as the boys basketball coach at Caruthersville, a program that's struggled with coaching changes and plenty of setbacks. The news of Heeb's hiring first appeared on late Sunday, and it didn't take long to circulate on message boards and stir talk of Heeb's days at Bell City and Scott County Central.

He arrived at both schools during a time when their programs were stuck in mediocrity, and both turned around not long after he walked in the door. At Bell City, the Cubs hadn't won 20 games in a season since 1981, but Heeb turned out 29 wins in his second season. At Scott Central, the Braves never really found their rhythm since Ronnie Cookson's first retirement in 1995, but credit Heeb for getting the program back on solid footing.

But at both stops, Heeb was accused of recruiting athletes. He was suspended by the MSHSAA for half a season as a result.

Now Heeb heads into a familiar situation at Caruthersville, where five coaches have led the team in the past five seasons, all with disappointing results. The Tigers haven't had a winning season since Brian Brandtner left for Bell City (to replace Heeb) in early 2005.

Already this week, coaches in the Bootheel Conference have made recruiting jokes — they're only jokes, but rival coaches are surely wondering what to expect now that Heeb has joined their club.

If the Tigers start winning again — not unlikely, considering the team's freshman class is among the region's best — how long before the recruiting charges start? How long before the fingers point and the tongues wag?

And how long before a state championship?