Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The points point to a local school as basketball's best

You already knew Scott County Central's basketball program was good, but now there are point standings to back it up.

Using a format patterned after our annual SEMO All-Sports Award, the folks over at OzarksSports.net have applied that formula to list the 25 best boys and girls basketball teams in Missouri since playoffs began.

The results: Scott County Central is No. 1 in the girls list, and the school is No. 2 on the state boys list.

The girls top five: Scott County Central, St. Joseph's Academy, Visitation Academy, Northeast Nodaway and Marshfield.

The boys top five: Vashon, Scott County Central, Charleston, DeSmet and SLUH.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

All-star games are a big statement for SEMO baseball talent

How good was high school baseball in the eastern half of Missouri this year?

Good enough that all four games in the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association's senior all-star games over the weekend were won by the East Team. Good enough that 20 seniors from Southeast Missouri earned spots on the East rosters — and good enough that one of them was picked as MVP.

The annual games featuring seniors from across the state were played in St. Louis and featured the region's top seniors chosen by coaches. East teams won all four decisions over the West: 22-21 in Class 1, 4-3 in C2, 12-5 in C3, and 11-3 in C4.

Garrett Stockton of Twin Rivers was picked as MVP of the C2 game.

Southeast Missouri seniors on the East rosters:

C1: Cory Kovach of Naylor, Mike Duncon and Zach Ricker of Van Buren, Kyle Wakefield of South Iron, and Austin Fisher, Jake Hilton and Brett Atkins of Winona.

C2: Stockton and Cole McBroom of Twin Rivers, Andrew Dooley of Chaffee, Joe Campbell of Campbell, Ethan Browning and James Naile of Charleston, Spencer Sander of Saxony Lutheran, and Logan Jett and Gary Doyle of Crystal City.

C3: Dylan Eye of Potosi and Jacob Farmer of Fredericktown.

C4: Logan Bartels and Bobby Clark of Jackson.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

A new champion emerges for the annual All-Sports Award

A private school has again won Southeast Missouri's All-Sports Award for high school athletic programs, but for the first time it wasn't Notre Dame.

Valle Catholic won the annual competition among high schools in a 23-county area in convincing style — state championships in football, volleyball and track helped the school overtake 47 other local high schools that earned points in MSHSAA postseason events.

The annual award is tabulated by SemoSportsWeb using a system that awards teams points based on playoff performance. A team championship is worth 10 points, with eight points for second place and so on. Events used in the standings are baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball and wrestling.

It's the first time Valle Catholic has won the title since it began in the 2007-'08 school year. Notre Dame has won the past three awards.

Valle's 37 total postseason points bettered runnerup Notre Dame, which had 25 points. Festus was the highest-finishing public school in third with 20.5 points, Herculaneum was fourth with 20, and Farmington was fifth with 19. Click here for the full list of schools and final points.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Three years after flood, local track under water again

A new name and new ownership couldn't keep floodwater from once again overcoming a local racetrack this week.

Along with the playing fields, golf courses and sports venues under water this week, two popular racetracks in the 23-county region are under several feet of water. One of them - Black River Racepark near Poplar Bluff - just reopened three weeks ago after it was devastated by floods in 2008.

It's the second time the track (top photo) has been overcome by floods since it was built in 2004. Operating under its original owners as Poplar Bluff Speedway in 2008, the track was devastated by floods that left it closed for three years.

Parts of Malden Speedway (second photo) also are under several feet of water, most of it in the infield of the oval track. Parking and pit areas also are soaked with standing water.

Both tracks already have called off events for this weekend.

At Doe Run Raceway in St. Francis County, the track has cancelled its preseason practice day set for Friday because of damage it received from this week's storms. Its opening night has been moved to May 6.

Owners of Thunder City Speedway near in Ripley County are optimistic for weekend racing April 30. Roads leading to the track were under almost 6 feet of water Wednesday but are expected to be passable by the weekend.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

An emotional weekend on the track for a Sikeston racer

On a busy weekend for Southeast Missouri racetracks, the biggest win of all happened out of state.

Austin Rettig of Sikeston won his first career event on the Comp Cams Super Dirt Series, seven years to the day after the death of his older brother Nathan.

Austin, 16, won the event at Riverside Speedway in West Memphis, Ark., late Saturday. A day earlier, his dad — a longtime racer himself — made the right call.

"Dad told me yesterday that I was going to win on Saturday night, but to actually do it just means so much," Austin said. "I just know that Nathan was just there with me the whole way."

Nathan, the first to follow his father Allan's path as a late model competitor across the region, was killed April 9, 2004, from injuries he suffered in an ATV accident near his Sikeston home. He was 13.

On Saturday, Austin raced side-by-side with another of dirt racing's rising stars, Arkansas' Billy Moyer Jr. Austin's lead at the finish was 0.04 seconds.

"This one is definitely for Nathan," Austin said in victory lane.

AROUND THE REGION: Short-track racing continued at St. Francois County Raceway near Farmington and at Malden Speedway, and the weekly schedules began for Thunder City Speedway near Doniphan and Black River Racepark near Poplar Bluff.

Click here to follow results this season and from previous seasons.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New York Times puts spotlight on star SEMO pitcher

The New York Times detailed the amazing rise of Southeast pitcher Jordan Underwood in its weekend edition.

Underwood, who pitches at Southeast, lost his left eye after he was hit in the face by a line drive two years ago in Oklahoma, but he's emerged as one of the Redhawks' top pitchers. From the story:

"Three weeks after a line drive crashed into his face and destroyed his left eye, Jordan Underwood sat at Logan’s Roadhouse in Oklahoma City and decided his tea needed some sweetener. He opened a packet, extended his arm to the glass and proceeded to pour sugar all over the table.

"Losing an eye — and with it conventional depth perception — might seem devastating to an athlete, like a pianist developing Parkinson’s disease. But less than two years after being fitted with an acrylic left eye, Underwood has emerged as the ace pitcher at Southeast Missouri State, a Division I program."

It's a truly remarkable story. Click the link to read it in its entirety.

Southeast hosts Saint Louis at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Southeast fires its women's basketball coach

John Ishee's fifth season will be his last as Southeast women's basketball coach. The school said in a brief statement Tuesday afternoon that Ishee's contract will not be renewed when it expires in April.

Ishee was Southeast's coach for five seasons, and although his overall record was 77-74, recent campaigns have been disappointing. Southeast just completed an 8-21 season that included a 4-14 record in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Southeast won OVC championships in 2007 and '08 under Ishee, and he was picked as the OVC's coach of the year in 2007. That season's team reached the NCAA Tournament, and the Redhawks were picked for the WNIT Tournament in 2008.

Marcus Payne was picked Tuesday as acting head coach, and the school said a national search will begin immediately.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hayti looking for a football coach after David Gilmore resigns

The coach that took Hayti to six playoff appearances in his seven years on the job is leaving.

David Gilmore will take an administrative position at Kennett for the next school year, leaving a position at Hayti in which playoff appearances became the standard. In seven seasons as head coach, Gilmore's teams twice went 10-0 during the regular season, reached the state championship once (a 35-22 loss to Adrian in 2002) and twice reached the quarterfinal round.

Hayti's 2010 team was 7-4 and lost to eventual state champion Valle Catholic in the regional.

Hayti has not announced its new coach.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kennett, Oak Ridge return to state rankings

Kennett and Oak Ridge are back in the state polls after both made brief appearances there earlier in the season.

The new state rankings Wednesday from state newspaper and radio stations included 14 Southeast Missouri teams, one more than a week earlier. Kennett and Oak Ridge joined the list, while Zalma dropped out.

Among boys teams in Class 1, Scott County Central remained No. 1, Summersville held at No. 6, Leopold held at No. 8, and Oak Ridge debuted at No. 10.

In Class 2, Bernie remained No. 5.

In Class 3, Charleston is still No. 8, and Kennett joined the list at No. 10.

In Class 4, Sikeston remained No. 1.

In girls rankings, Couch remained No. 3 in Class 2, followed by No. 4 Meadow Heights (down from No. 3 last week), No. 9 St. Vincent (up one spot), and No. 10 Neelyville (down one spot).

In Class 3, Kennett held at No. 9.

In Class 4, Farmington remained No. 9.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Three SEMO teams debut, four drop out in new state polls

Leopold, Zalma and St. Vincent joined the rankings in the latest state newspaper rankings released Wednesday, while four Southeast Missouri teams dropped out.

Among boys teams, Leopold and Zalma debuted in Class 1. Scott County Central remains No. 1, with Summersville No. 6, Leopold No. 8, and Zalma No. 10.

In Class 2, Bernie is No. 5. In Class 3, Charleston is No. 8. And in Class 4, Sikeston is No. 1.

Among girls teams, six from the region are ranked. In Class 2, Meadow Heights is No. 3, Couch No. 4, Neelyville No. 9 and St. Vincent No. 10. In Class 3, Kennett is No. 9. And in Class 4, Farmington is No. 6.

Four area teams dropped from the rankings this week: Cape Girardeau Central, North Pemiscot and Oak Ridge in boys, along with Crystal City in girls.

The poll is conducted by the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. SemoSportsWeb.com does not participate in the voting.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

New state rankings are out, but expect changes

The problem with state rankings that are voted on each Monday and released Wednesday? There are those pesky games Tuesday.

Meadow Heights' girls team remained No. 2 in the new Class 2 rankings released Wednesday by the state newspapers, but the Panthers are likely to slip next week after a loss Tuesday to Dexter. That loss isn't reflected in the state rankings, which are determined earlier in the week.

Meadow Heights is among six Southeast Missouri girls teams in the new poll. Farmington is No. 6 in Class 4; Crystal City (ninth) and Kennett (10th) are in Class 3; and Couch (fourth) and Neelyville (ninth) join Meadow Heights in Class 2.

Among boys teams, eight from the area are ranked statewide.

In Class 5, Cape Girardeau Central sits at No. 8; Sikeston is No. 1 in Class 4; Charleston is No. 8 in Class 3; Bernie is No. 5 in Class 2; and in Class 1, Scott County Central is No. 1, Summersville No. 6, North Pemiscot No. 8, and Oak Ridge No. 10.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Southeast's revelation: Not quite ready for the big leagues

Tony Samuel played hardball with a school that was out of practice.

Samuel got the best deal a Southeast sports coach could expect late Monday when he signed a five-year deal that included revenue sharing from games along with a salary increase of more than $25,000 annually.

Southeast, in return, got just enough time to wipe egg off its face before stepping to a podium in a hastily called news conference Tuesday morning.

After leading the revived Redhawks to a 9-3 season, a conference title and a playoff berth in 2010, Samuel was in prime position to make demands. And he did. His contract ran out Monday, and Southeast made no indication that Samuel would or would not return.

Boosters waited. Fans waited. Recruits waited. Southeast snoozed.

Score: Samuel 1, Southeast 0.

In his final compromise with a school lackluster in its football tradition, Samuel came out a winner. He gets a better salary, more control and five more years to potentially make a run back into the FBS ranks as an assistant or even head coach at a major college. He gets more time to show his ability to recruit and pull crowds into a historically quiet Houck Stadium.

Samuel 2, Southeast 0.

Left in the dark during contract talks were the fans. The school's inability to seal the deal immediately after the 2010 is a glaring indication that Southeast wasn't fully prepared to keep the coach that removed the "LOL" from its football program. The school knew Samuel's value would soar after a 9-3 season, but it let the process drag while fans — paying customers — were ignored.

Later this week, Southeast will introduce its football recruiting class. Later this summer, the focus will be on the Redhawks' OVC title defense. And later in the fall, the Redhawks could be in the thick of the playoffs.

Ultimately, with Samuel back on the sidelines, the fans win. But they never forget.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hansbrough comes up big in ND's upset over Pitt

Credit Ben Hansbrough for lifting Notre Dame to one of its basketball program's biggest wins.

Hansbrough, a Poplar Bluff grad, scored a team-high 19 points, and the 15th-ranked Irish won 56-51 at No. 2 Pittsburgh on Monday. The win snapped Pitt's 20-game home win streak. The Panthers had won 51 of their previous 52 home games.

"This was the first time we committed to an all-out 'burn,' and we beat Pitt doing it two times last year," Hansbrough said in an Associated Press story. "This is probably the best win I've had ... maybe ever."

Notre Dame is 17-4 and is off until Feb. 3.

Monday, January 17, 2011

At NMSU, Tony Samuel is the coach that got away

Just days after winning the Eddie Robinson Award as the FCS coach of the year, Tony Samuel was a hot topic in New Mexico.

Not as a potential coach, but as the coach who got away.

Samuel was fired after serving as New Mexico State's football coach from 1997 to 2004. His team went 5-6 in 2004, and the school decided to not renew his contract. He landed at Southeast, where his team set school records in its 9-3 season in 2010. He won the Eddie Robinson Award earlier this month.

A story last week in the Las Cruces Sun-News asks a popular question these days at NMSU: Did the Aggies let Samuel go too soon?

Consider: New Mexico State has struggled since Samuel left, even after hiring well-traveled coach Hal Mumme as Samuel's replacement. Mumme went 11-38 before he was fired after the 2008 season, and the Aggies have gone 5-20 since.

As one fan told the Sun-News: "You don't fire a coach with five wins (in his final season) at New Mexico State. You carry him off on your shoulders."

Click here to read the full article.

Samuel, by the way, is under contract for just two more weeks at Southeast. His current deal expires Jan. 31, and the school has not announced an extension.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Southeast Missouri loses one of its racing legends

One of the most well-known families in Southeast Missouri short-track racing has lost its patriarch.

Troy "Durell" Fowler, a longtime competitor at some of the region's earliest oval dirt tracks and whose sons later carried on the racing tradition, died Sunday at Pemiscot Memorial Hospital in Hayti. He was 79.

Mr. Fowler was among the region's pioneers of the sport at a grassroots level, drawing fans to once-thriving oval tracks, including those in Charleston and Cape Girardeau's Arena Park.

He passed on his passion for the sport to sons Gene, James and Paul, who introduced the Fowler name to new fans — and added dozens of wins to the family legacy — at newer tracks in Benton, Caruthersville and Sikeston.

Mr. Fowler is survived by his wife Helen, his daughter Deborah, and his sons Gene, James, Paul and Stephen, all of Portageville.

Visitation is from 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at DeLisle Funeral Home in Portageville. Services are at 2 p.m. Wednesday at First Assembly of God Church.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

If you're Tony Samuel, what do you do now?

Get inside Tony Samuel's mind just for a minute.

Your football team recently set school records for its 9-3 finish. You've finally gotten the attention of a football-loving community after four seasons of frustration. Top it off with the biggest award of your career — the Eddie Robinson Award as the nation's top coach in the FCS.

And now you've got until Jan. 31 to decide whether to sign a new contract with Southeast or head back into the big leagues.

If you're Samuel, the choice could be one of the biggest in your life.

Samuel knows that as a coach, a career isn't built on the empty promises for tomorrow, but instead on what you've done lately. And if Samuel wants to land back in college's major level — he was, after all, once a head coach at New Mexico State and an assistant at Purdue — now's the time. His resume looks sharp on the heels of a 9-3 season, especially at a program that's seen more failures than successes since it moved up from Division II in 1991.

Samuel's other option: Sign a new deal with Southeast by Jan. 31, risk a return to mediocrity next season when Southeast loses much of its talent to graduation, then watch his mid-major college value all but disappear.

Publicly, Samuel has had no offers to take or accept. But head coaching vacancies abound, and at major colleges coast to coast, newly hired head coaches are advertising several very appealing assistant jobs right now.

For a coach with no ties to Southeast Missouri and whose heart has always been at the major-college level, Samuel's decision to not come back for Year No. 6 would surprise no one.

Southeast, welcome back to the coaching carousel.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

How's this for a quick rematch? It's just the start in a packed week

DeSoto and Farmington barely had time to change their calendars before they had to start thinking about a quick boys basketball rematch.

The same teams that played to a one-point finish in Friday's Central Christmas Tournament championship will play again Monday (Jan. 3), this time at DeSoto. It's one of a few high-intensity games that help kick off basketball in 2011.

After Monday's showdown, another pair of teams with big Christmas tournament runs — Bernie and Twin Rivers — face off Tuesday.

Two days later, Dexter — coming off a 3-1 run through the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament — gets its second shot this season at district opponent Notre Dame.

And on Friday, a pair of Top 25 showdowns pit Sikeston against Charleston and Kennett against Poplar Bluff.

Toss in a few local rivalries and small-school showdowns, and the unofficial start to the second half of basketball season is off to a fast start. Check back all week for the latest scores and updates.