looks tough to call
Crab Orchard, Carrier Mills, look strong; Hardin County could surprise
Order Of Finish
NORRIS CITY-OMAHA-ENFIELD, 2. CRAB
GALLATIN COUNTY, 6. POPE
7. GALATIA, 8. THOMPSONVILLE.
Greater Egyptian Conference has had a very nice run with its top
teams doing quite well since four-class basketball hit home in
In fact since that time at least one team from the GEC captured
regional titles in boy's basketball in each of the seven seasons
of the split.
Granted that some of the regionals consisted all GEC teams, but
still some of those teams have went on to bigger things.
Gallatin County, for instance, made
it all the way to SIU Arena in 2013, only to lose a devastating
overtime game against Nokomis.
In 2009, Coach Mark Motsinger had his Carrier
Mills Wildcats in position to get to SIU, losing a close
game to Okawville at the Trico 1A Sectional final. CM repeated
as regional champs the following year and then lost a close game
to eventual state runner up Sesser-Valier at the Eldorado 1A Sectional.
Crab Orchard has won three regional
titles (2011, 2012 and 2014) in that run and made it to the Gallatin
County 1A Sectional title game before losing to then number one
ranked Mounds Meridian.
Speaking of the Hawk, Gallatin County won three-consecutive regional
titles from 2011-13.
So the success level in 1A, at least at the top of the standings
in this conference, has nothing to hang their heads about in competing
against the cream of the crop in Deep Southern Illinois.
Fast forwarding to 2014-15, it is going to be another competitive
season in the southeastern corner of this state.
Last season ABV went out on a limb and touted Norris
City-Omaha-Enfield as the favorites and this projection
nearly came about.
The Fighting Cardinals never quite put together any extended winning
streaks and finished second to Crab Orchard in the league race.
Those Trojans and head coach Jon Brown have have a great run in
this league in recent years and this club will continue to battle.
A very familiar coach from this league will take over at Gallatin
County as Doug Miller replaces Robert “Radar” Patton
as the general of the Hawks program after having served as an
assistant the last few years at the school.
Miller has head coaching stints at Thompsonville and NCOE so he
is a staple in this gathering of small schools.
Hardin County and head coach Rodney
Lane have built a quality small school program in the “Cougarland”
and his success has been like most others around the South. Lots
of time spent with the kids and hard work.
Thompsonville has a new head coach
in Pete Gordon and he inherits a team with deep graduation loses.
Pope County head coach Jim Simmons
and his kids continue to work hard in Golconda.
Galatia and mentor Kendall Hankins
continue to hang tough against the programs ahead of them in the
Denny Anderton takes over a program at Carrier Mills that was
led by a 600-win head coach that was let go controversially last
As for this season, it looks wide-open at the top end.
Head coach Bryon Graven saw his club be inconsistent in 2013-14
and that kept his club off a lot of the radars in southern Illinois
The Fighting Cardinals ended up at 15-11 on the season but 8-2 in
the GEC which was good enough for second place behind champion Crab
NCOE lost four seniors to graduation, including two of the top scorers
for the team.
Dakota Wheeler (9.4 p.p.g., 7.7 r.p.g.) and Cole Tucker (7.4 p.p.g.)
are missing from the Cards' club that lost to Carrier Mills at the
Hardin County 1A Regional opener last February.
Jacob Taylor and Tyler Lamb are also gone from the team from last
The ones back are good ones, led by Chase Sutton, a 6-foot junior
guard and 6-foot senior guard Blake Karnes.
Sutton was the only double-digit scorer for Coach Graven last season
at 12.4 points a contest.
Karnes was at 9.2 points a game for NCOE.
Six-foot-three senior Kyle Sell tossed in four points a game for
the club while being second on the team in rebounding last season
at 3.6 boards.
Add the names Nate Glad, Tyler Scroggins, Dakota Bond, Jacob Delap
and Brantley Neal to the possibles for the other two starting spots.
Glad is a 6-foot-3 senior while Delap adds more size to the roster
at 6-foot-4 and a junior.
Scroggins is a 6-foot senior and Bond is a 5-foot-10 junior.
All should see a lot of minutes, especially early in the season
when the Fighting Cardinals head to Grayville to open the season
at the annual Thanksgiving Tournament. This season they will be
trying to defend their title from last November.
“I believe every player on our team will play an important
role this season. Our seniors are going to have to really step up
to fill our leadership roles. We are going to have the luxury of
depth this year, with our returners and some younger players developing
their game over the summer,” said Coach Graven, an Auburn
High School grad and all-state selection in 2003 “Our WE>ME
mentality has started to become contagious within our program, and
we are starting to see evidence to prove that. We are hoping to
build off the foundation of a program that is starting to take off.
We are looking forward to an exciting year of basketball.”
OUTLOOK -This coach has strengthened
the schedule as much as he can and the program seems headed in the
right direction. This group should be in the race for this conference
championship and, depending on where they get placed, a regional
title. Having good guards with experience is a plus and this team
doubts there has every been a high school basketball player that
was offensive minded that wouldn't like to play for Coach Jon
This mentor likes to see the shots fly into the air and in the
recent past this coach has seen his kids be very proficient on
The Trojans went 26-6 last season, 7-0 in the regular season GEC
and won another regional crown. They took Cairo to the final minutes
before losing at the NCOE Sectional.
Coach Brown saw one of the top scorers in the South depart as
Caleb Perry left the building after averaging 25.3 points a game.
This 5-foot-10 all-around player was first team ABV last spring.
His 811 points and 32 percent 3-point shooting were standout numbers
for a very good varsity career.
Two other senior starters (Tyler Deaton and Josh Emery) are missing
from a team that won the regular season GEC crown and was runner
up in the league tournament.
Other highlights include winning their own Thanksgiving event
and finishing second at the Wayne City Holiday Tournament.
Two returning starters are 6-foot-1 senior Gunnar Galloway and
6-foot-2 sophomore McKager Ferrell.
Galloway is over 900-points for his career and it shouldn't take
him long to reach 1,000.
This senior forward averaged 14.5 points and 7.1 rebounds a game
for the Trojans as a junior.
Look for those numbers to expand in 2014-15.
Ferrell showed a lot of skill as a freshman last season (7.6 p.p.g.,
6.8 r.p.g.) as he learned on the fly in varsity air-space.
Those two will be tough to deal with in the lane at both ends
of the floor.
The backcourt will be new but this coach knows how to coach perimeter
Most over the years have had the green light from beyond the arc
and this year should be no different then any in the past.
Lane Hutson, a 5-foot-9 junior guard, got into 28 varsity contests
as a sophomore (2.3 p.p.g.) while 5-foot-10 senior forward Travis
Tarlton (1.5 p.p.g.) got into 20-games.
Senior forward Jon Stephens is a 5-foot-11 forward while 6-foot-3
sophomore Amos Beasley should add some additional size to the
line up should Coach Brown decide to “beef up” the
“Galloway has worked hard during the off season to add strength
in an attempt to fare better against physical opponents. Ferrell
will once again be looked to for a physical presence near the
basket,” said Coach Brown, a former ABV 1A “Coach
of the Year” (2012) and winner of over 300-games in his
coaching career. “Hutson and Tarlton will be looked upon
for perimeter defense. Beasley is a much improved player and should
add toughness inside.”
OUTLOOK – It seems to ABV that
this program always seems to have kids that will work hard and
be able to play this game the way the coach wants. The Trojans
have always been a team that will “shoot first and ask questions
later.” If the shots are falling, which they have for this
program for a long time, the Trojans shouldn't be counted out.
With an inside game to help set up the long range bombs, it will
be another enjoyable season for this fan base to take in this
The consensus around the league is that the Wildcats are the ones
to beat in the GEC this season and it is hard to argue this poll.
With a new coach in place, CM will try to improve on a 10-18 mark
that wasn't quite up to the previous seasons at this school.
As a result there is a new head coach running things as Denny
Anderton takes over for a team that has nearly all of the kids
back that took the defeats in 2013-14.
Darren Betz, a 6-foot senior guard, is back as is 5-foot-10 senior
Six-foot seniors Loren Whiting and Jonah Crowder return as well
as 5-foot-7 senior Anthony Kalodner and 5-foot-9 senior Jordan
Anderton, a Carmi native who has coached at many different levels,
has over 30-years experience in coaching basketball.
“I will put our non conference schedule against any school
our size,” said Anderton. “I just want us to get better
every time we step on the floor.”
OUTLOOK – Having a group of
battle-tested seniors to start with is a huge advantage over most
small schools. It remains to be seen how they fair to begin the
year as they are playing in the tough Vienna Tournament to begin
the season, an event that features powers Meridian, Massac County
and what looks like an improved Vienna squad. One thing about
veteran teams. You can leave the excuses at the door when you
walk onto the court.
The Cougars should be right in this race to the top of the standings
with the players returning for Coach Lane.
Hardin County has had some recent success and the Cougars nearly
crawled over the .500 mark at the end but finished at 13-15 overall,
3-7 in the GEC as they fell to Thompsonville at the Hardin County
Returning for the Cougars is B.J. Austin, who seems like he has
been playing for Hardin County since birth.
Thius 6-foot-1 senior is a four-year varsity player and had one
of the top scoring averages in the South at 18.6 points a night.
He also ruled the boards for HC with 6.5 rebounds a contest.
He has 901 career points and with another good beginning he should
surpass 1,000 before Christmas.
Look for Logan Conn, a 5-foot-10 senior guard to also step it
up a notch. Look for this senior vet to add to his five points
a night he provided as a junior.
Five-foot-eleven senior Tanner Dutton pitched in 5.2 points and
with three rebounds.
In this league and with their non-league schedule some size in
the lane will help out and this mentor has Austin Marler, a 6-foot-3
sophomore, who this coach believes will give the Cougars some
Coach Lane talked about three other sophomores to take note of.
Tyler Winters is a 5-foot-9 guard who added 5.3 p.p.g. in limited
duty while showing improvement. According to Coach Lane, his improvement
on the defensive end will help out the club in the backcourt.
Austin Seavers is a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward who added 4.6 points
and 4.2 rebounds.
Lane believes this one could step up for a big season.
Look for 5-foot-9 sophomore Cameron Shaw to get more minutes this
season for the Cougars while a pair of seniors could be in the
Five-foot-ten senior Darrien Robinson and 5-foot-8 senior Colton
Winters should help out.
Robinson sat out his junior year while Winters played a lot of
Hardin County should also have help coming from juniors Taze Paskon
and John Rose.
Paskon is a 6-foot-2 frontcourt players while Rose could help
out in the backcourt.
The JV squad went 14-1 according to this coach so the talent is
there for a step forward at the varsity level.
“These seniors have logged a lot of varsity min the last
couple of years, and gained a lot of experience. The sophomore
class gave us a big push the second half of the season and will
play a huge role in the success of this team,” said Coach
Lane, a native son of this county and heading into his fifth season
at the helm. “We have good competition in practice and a
lot of spots open for grabs. This is probably the best overall
talent I have put on the court in my four years I have been at
Hardin County. We should be fairly deep and have some guys that
can score the ball. With Austin getting to 1,000-points very early
in this season and some sophomores who put up a lot of points
toward the end of last season, this group has potential to play
well. With good senior leadership and some young talent this could
be the cougars best season in a while!!”
OUTLOOK – The Cougars are
“the sleeper” team here in the GEC. Depth is the key
and the younger kids have won some games at the lower levels.
Austin is one of the top players in the conference and HC appears
to have some size to match up with the schedule. Five games in
the first week of the season for Hardin County at the Crab Orchard
Thanksgiving Tournament will be a good barometer of how well this
team could fare in 2014-15.
Coach Doug Miller gets control of the program and he will have
talent to work with as he tries to build upon the recent success
of his predecessor.
The Hawks, picked by ABV to finish fifth last season, end up third
behind Crab Orchard and NCOE.
GC went 23-6 nd 5-2 in the league.
They played very well at times and beat some good teams.
They upended Crab Orchard to win the GEC Tournament and gave the
Trojans a scare in the regional title game a few weeks later.
This season the Hawks will be missing 4/5ths of the teams points
from a season ago
Five seniors are gone; Mitchell Ramsey, Jared Jackson, Zach McGuire,
Austin Russell and Marcus Wargel who will need to be replaced.
Coach Miller will turn to two returning players, one of whom was
a double-digit contributor in points a year ago.
Seth Ramsey, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, produced 12.4 points a game
as a freshman in 2013-14.
One other player; 6-foot-1 senior Chandler Scates, added 5.1 points
a game for the Hawks.
From the understudies, look for seniors Hank Oldham, a 5-foot-7
senior, 6-foot-1 senior Tyler Oldham, and junior Patrick Clark
should start while 5-foot-8 Thomas York to have a shot at playing
time. Senior Brody Watts will also come off the bench.
“I have big shoes to fill after the job Radar (Coach Patton)
has done the last four years here. We were 50-10 the last two
seasons,” said Coach Miller, a McLeansboro native and long
time GEC coach. “We know we have to work extremely hard
and teach a lot of basketball in not a lot of time when practice
begins. Gallatin County is a great place to be and a great school
to work for. This has been a great move for me. Our goals for
this season is to get better every day and to have fun along the
OUTLOOK – The Hawks program
is in good hands with Coach Miller and he will build around his
two returning players with experience. The jobs for the other
three starting slots appear to be up for grabs.
The Pirates went 2-24 last season and didn't register a conference
win while bowing out quickly in the Hardin County 1A Regional
to Gallatin County.
Coach Jim Simmons lost some seniors last year to graduation (Xavier
Bramlett and J. D. Ward) but there are some kids returning with
But there are three starters returning for this coach as they
Douglass Ferguson, a 6-foot-3 center, is a senior and experienced
for the Pirates.
Zach Fasolo, a 5-foot-10 junior, also returns as does junior guard
Cody Harris, who is a 6-foot guard.
The rest of the roster looks to be mostly underclassmen who are
Jabrayle Lumpkin, a 6-foot-2 senior, played some varsity last
season as did 5-foot-11 sophomore Dylan Worthen.
The rest will be up to Coach Simmons, who is 31-53 in his stint
at Pope County.
OUTLOOK – The Pirates look
to be in the same sort of spot they were a year ago. Play hard,
play the game right and see what happens. Single-digit wins and
some fun in Golconda is the likely outcome for 2014-15.
The Bearcats and head coach Kendall Hankins managed a respectable
9-17 mark last season, which was the most wins for this coach
in his four years at the controls.
Galatia finished 2-5 in the league and lost to Gallatin County
in the first game at Hardin County in the regional.
The bad news is that six seniors graduated. Five of which started
nearly all the games.
However Coach Hankins has some kids returning that saw action
under the lights.
Austin Stricklin, a 6-foot-1 junior, was part of the rotation
a season ago, as was Luke Lawrence and Sean Mondino.
Lawrence is a 5-foot-11 sophomore while Mondino is a 6-foot-1
Six-foot-one junior Hayden Mitchell is also part of the preseason
plan as is three other sophomores; Kody Mathews, Devon Verbech
and Ethan Patterson.
Mathews is a 5-foot-7 guard while Verbech is a 5-foot-6 guard.
Patterson is a 5-foot-11 forward.
Those were the kids likely to get the bulk of the early season
“This will be a rebuilding year for us, but we have been
looking forward to this point in the program since my tenure started,”
said Coach Hankins. “The young guys are very exciting to
watch and play tough. They play real well as a team and will be
tough to guard as on any night any two or three of them can score
and score big.”
OUTLOOK – This coach seems
excited about this season and ABV hopes his kids respond the the
excitement level. Hard work never hurt any team and this group
could pick up some quality wins along the way as they head toward
a two-year plan with all of the kids mentioned being underclassmen.
A new coach and no visible meaningful varsity minutes returning
is the storyline of the 2014-15 edition of Tigers' basketball.
Seven seniors hogged a lot of the A-game minutes last winter and
one guard transferred away to a different school, leaving a void
in the middle of the program.
The good news is there are uniforms and minutes to be earned for
Coach Pete Gordon, who is the latest of coaches at this school,
as this program will now have its third coach in as many seasons.
Coach Gordon will have virtually no contributors to last seasons'
13-15 team that lost to Crab Orchard in the Hardin County Regional
According to this coach, he has five seniors who are ready to
accept the challenge of rebuilding from scratch.
Five-foot-ten William Costello, 6-foot-2 Jaret Murphy, 6-foot-1
Kyle Shimkus, 6-foot-3 Hudson Garrison and 6-foot-1 Coy Harmon
are in the race for some PT.
Six-foot-four junior Jessie Darnell is the only junior on the
The sophomore contingent features Cory Wilce; a 5-10 guard, and
6-foot Jared Payne.
Four freshman, according to Gordon, will also get a preseason
Five-foot-ten Zack Kirkman; 6-foot-1 Trenton Cardwell, 5-foot-10
Hunter Woodring and 5-foot-11 Nick Scro.
Another freshman, 6-foot-4 Jacob Dixon, will give the Tigers some
size if all goes well.
“The program graduated seven seniors and all of those seniors
played the majority of the minutes last season. We are returning
zero varsity experience,” said Coach Gordon. “Thompsonville
only has 33 male students in the entire high school. Three of
the 13 players have not played High School Basketball before.
If our kids will buy into playing hard, and develop a passion
for playing and practicing basketball, we will have fun together
this year. I do think that the conference will have some parity
night in and night out. I really don't know how things will play
out. We will have to play hard to find success.”
OUTLOOK – The Tigers will have a rough go of it early but
they should be okay by the end of season. What the coach said
is true about playing hard. There are some potential wins on the
schedule if the effort is there.