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High school basketball

Area game reports

[FEB. 19, 2002]   


At Normal

Lincoln New Wine         14  28  35  44

Calvary Baptist                9  28  37  47


Class A Regionals

[FEB. 19, 2002]   


At Eureka

Olympia                      15  24  37  46  57

Roanoke                       6  15  31  46  54


At Glasford

Hartsburg-Emden         10  16  29       35

Delavan                        14  28  40       50


At Williamsville

Mount Pulaski                8  21  38        58

Riverton                        11 29  38        60

College basketball

Pre-game notes: Illini vs. Penn State  (men)

[FEB. 19, 2002]   

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Pre-game notes: Illinois State vs. Wichita State  (men)

[FEB. 19, 2002]   

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Pre-game notes: Illinois State vs. SMS, Wichita State

[FEB. 19, 2002]   

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High school basketball

Area game reports

[FEB. 18, 2002]   


Jacksonville       7  19  25  35

Lincoln              8  15  37  58

Farmer 2-2-7, Komnick 2-0-5, Schonauer 3-1-9, Schrader 5-0-12, Welch 5-1-12, Young 4-2-10, Blast 0-1-1, Wilder 1-0-2

Three-point field goals: Schonauer 2, Schrader 2, Farmer, Komnick, Welch

College basketball

LCC vs. St. Louis Pharmacy

[FEB. 18, 2002]   


Lincoln Christian         57  53 — 110

St. Louis Pharmacy     38  56 —  94

Clark 16-6-42, Raymer 2-6-10, Johnson 1-0-2, Below 6-6-19, Turney 1-4-6, Okusami 4-0-8, Grooms 0-2-2, Searby 8-5-21

Three-point field goals: Clark 4, Below

Lincoln College vs. Parkland

[FEB. 18, 2002]   


Lincoln College         36  42 — 78

Parkland                   40  53 — 93

Roberson 7-2-19, Clark 1-0-2, Turner 6-5-18, Sams 7-0-14, Major 1-2-5, Hollyfield 7-2-18, Bowen 1-0-2

Three-point field goals: Roberson 3, Hollyfield 2, Turner, Major


Redbirds upend Southern Illinois

[FEB. 18, 2002]   NORMAL — Shawn Jeppson, with 22 points, led a balanced attack that took Illinois State past Southern Illinois 84-70 in a battle of two first-division teams in the Missouri Valley Conference Saturday at Redbird Arena.

Jeppson’s play was backed by Gregg Alexander and Shedrick Ford with 17 points each and by Baboucarrr Bojang with 13 and a team-high nine rebounds. Kent Williams led the Salukis with 27 points and Rolan Roberts had 22, but the Salukis had to battle an energized Illinois State team that scored a season-high 84 points and made 27 of 33 free throws, plus an active crowd of 9,451, largest of the year at Redbird Arena, celebrating a tribute to state Sen. John Maitland.

The Redbirds, 14-12 overall, 10-5 in the Valley, won for the eighth time in their last nine games and avenged a 79-58 drubbing Jan. 5 in Carbondale. Southern Illinois, 21-6 overall, 11-4 in the Valley, has lost back-to-back games for the first time this season. The Salukis now trail league-leader Creighton by two games. The two teams meet Wednesday in Carbondale.

Illinois State shot 61 percent from the field in the first half, as Jeppson made all five of his field goals to help the ’Birds to a 43-30 halftime lead. ISU held that lead at 47-34 when Southern Illinois made its move, going on a 14-2 run to cut the margin to 49-48 on Kent Williams’ layup with 12:56 left.

“We knew they would come out with a lot of energy in the second half,” said Jeppson. “They hit a lot of shots, and Rolan Roberts got going. We knew we didn’t see their best in the first half. We knew they would come up on us, but I think we loosened them up and a lot of guys got good looks at the hoop and knocked them in.”


[to top of second column in this article]

Richardson thought it could have been Illinois State’s best game.

“It might be (our best),” said Richardson. “We’ll have to look at the tape, but from right now, it looks pretty good.”

He agreed with Jeppson that responding to SIU’s run was a key.

“I was hoping the toughness we’ve built up over recent weeks would take us through,” said Richardson. “That was gut-check time. We knew they would fight back. We bent, but we didn’t break and sustained their drive and slowly pulled away from there. It’s a confidence-booster for your team when you can hold them off and take the lead again.”

Illinois State had a 42-37 rebounding advantage and shot 48 percent for the game to SIU’s 44 percent. The Redbirds were able to put the game away by hitting 21 of 25 free throws in the second half.

SIU coach Bruce Weber saluted Illinois State’s effort.

[ISU news release]

Illini upend Seton Hall 75-65

[FEB. 18, 2002]   For a report on the Illini mens basketball game on Saturday, see

Redbirds stunned by Southern Illinois

[FEB. 18, 2002]   NORMAL — Molly McDowell scored 16 points in the first half to help Southern Illinois build a 13-point halftime lead, as the Salukis downed Illinois State 64-51 in a Missouri Valley Conference matchup.

Southern Illinois 5-18, 1-13 in the Valley, out-shot the Redbirds .448 to .327 for the game and had just 14 turnovers to 19 for the Redbirds while earning their first Valley victory of the year, spoiling Senior Day for Kristi Larson, Illinois State’s lone senior. Larson had four blocked shots, putting her at 38 for the season, No. 4 all-time for a single season at ISU. Larson’s 80 career are No. 4 on the career block list.

“I think this victory was a great team effort,” said head coach Lori Opp. “Our team really needed a win to get their confidence back, and hopefully this will continue for the next few games.”

Molly McDowell led Southern Illinois with 22 points and three assists. Also playing well for the Salukis were Jodi Heiden, who had 13 points, and Holly Teague, who chipped in 12 points.

“Molly McDowell came out and played a great game today,” said head coach Jenny Yopp. “I think Southern Illinois really deserved the win today. Our team is young and we didn’t seem to handle the emotion of Senior Day as well as we could have. We let that affect our play.”

McDowell thought SIU played like the pressure was off, since the Salukis already are out of contention for the State Farm-Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

“Finally, we came out and played like we had nothing to lose,” said McDowell, “and we got our first conference win.”

Illinois State 6-18, 4-11 in the Valley, was led by Stacey White and Steph Reichle, who both had 12 points. Beth Huston added 11 points, including three 3-point field goals. Reichle led ISU with eight rebounds.


[to top of second column in this article]

McDowell sank her first six field goals and a pair of free throws to collect 14 points in the first 10 minutes as Southern Illinois sprinted to a 20-11 lead. That lead stretched to as many as 14 as McDowell finished the half with 16 points and the Salukis took a 35-22 lead into the locker room. SIU had just four turnovers in the first 20 minutes and out-rebounded ISU 21-13 in the half. Illinois State scored its last basket of the period with 5:42 left in the half.

“I felt like our team was a little too caught up with all the emotions surrounding this game,” said Yopp. “It really didn’t seem like our focus was on executing the game plan.”

“Kristi is a senior that every head coach wants to work with,” said Yopp. “When we do turn things around, Kristi will get a lot of credit for it.”

Saluki coach Lori Opp, whose team had been victimized by one good half and one bad half many times this season, thought her team played well from start to finish.

“The kids played hard, they played together and they played the full 40 minutes,” said Opp.

Illinois State goes on the road to play Friday at Southwest Missouri State. The ’Birds likely will need two wins in their final three games to get the final Valley tournament spot.

[ISU news release]

Redbirds fall to Evansville in overtime

[FEB. 18, 2002]   NORMAL — Stacey White scored 16 of her career-high 19 points in the second half to lead a furious rally that fell just short as Evansville beat the Redbirds 77-71 in overtime in a Missouri Valley Conference basketball game Friday at Redbird Arena.

Besides White, three other Redbirds scored in double figures. Kristi Larson finished with 16 points, while Steph Reichle and Katie Donovan each chipped in 11. Donovan also had a game-high nine rebounds.

Evansville was led by Latasha Austin with 24 points and eight rebounds. Tami Masterson and Jenna Hayes each contributed 14 points to the winning effort. The Aces had a Redbird Arena record 44 trips to the free-throw line in the game off 29 Illinois State fouls.

“We have to handle our composure a little better,” said Illinois State head coach Jenny Yopp. “There have been plenty of games this season where we have handled it just fine. This just wasn’t one of those games.”

The Aces, 12-11, 7-6, moved out to a 12-point lead in the first nine minutes of the second half, thanks to Evansville’s huge advantage at the free-throw line. The Aces went to the free-throw line nine times, and ISU had nine fouls in the first nine minutes and trailed 48-36.

The Redbirds, 6-17, 4-10, started slicing into that lead when Steph Reichle converted a layup and foul shot for a 3-point play to start an 11-4 Redbird run that included six points by Stacey White and another hoop by Reichle, whose steal and layup closed the gap to 52-49 with 6:45 left. Austin, Shinko Ono and Jenna Hayes got UE back on top by nine with 4:35 left.

A pair of Kristi Larson free throws and a White trey sliced that lead to 58-54 with 3:21 left, but Ono’s 3 just under the two-minute mark gave UE a seven-point cushion. But the ’Birds battled back, outscoring the Aces 9-3 in the final two minutes, capped by White’s 23-foot, bounce-off-the-rim, nudge-the-backboard 3-pointer to tie the score at 65-65 with 11 seconds left.



[to top of second column in this article]

“I thought it had a chance to go in,” said White, describing her 3-point shot. “I guess it is better to be lucky than good.”

UE had a chance to win it in overtime, but Reichle stole the ball from Latasha Austin with four seconds left and her 42-footer at the buzzer for the win rimmed out.

Austin scored the first seven points of the overtime as Illinois State didn’t score in the first 3:40 of the extra period. The ’Birds came no closer than four points.

Sharon Blade, who has missed eight games with a foot injury, entered the game for the first time at the 14-minute mark of the first half. ISU’s defense frustrated Evansville’s offense through the midsection of the first half. The Aces went seven minutes without a field goal as ISU came from down 11-9 to ahead 22-17 on Stacey Nickerson’s bucket-and-free throw with 4:29 left.

The ’Birds led 25-20 on White’s 3-point shot with 3:46 left in the half, but the Aces went on an 8-0 run to take a 28-25 halftime lead as Illinois State missed its last seven shots before the intermission. Donovan had eight points and seven rebounds at halftime as ISU had 25-18 edge on the boards.

[ISU news release]


Redbirds honor Larson

[FEB. 18, 2002]   NORMAL — Kristi Larson, the only senior on the Illinois State squad, was honored following Sunday’s 2:05 p.m. game against Southern Illinois.

Larson, who ranks No. 4 on the all-time Illinois State career field goal percentage list, has been scoring better than any other time in her injury-filled career in recent games. The 6-foot-4 Cashton, Wis., native averaged 11.9 points over the previous 11 games and shot 52 percent from the field during that time.

Redbird coach Jenny Yopp appreciates what Larson has contributed during her career.

"She always takes ownership, always believes in her teammates," said Yopp, whose team faces an SIU squad Sunday searching for its first league win (4-18, 0-13 in the Valley). "When younger players came into the program, she has always embraced them."

The tallest Redbird player in a decade, Larson has overcome chronic and persistent foot problems to contribute at both ends of the floor for Illinois State. Her 76 career blocked shots make her one of just four players in Illinois State history with 70 or more. She has 34 blocks (1.48 per game) with at least four games remaining. With five more blocks, she would move from No. 6 to No. 4 on the single-season list at Illinois State.

But mostly, Larson would love to take her first trip to the Valley tournament. It’s going to take at least one more win and probably two. Normally, five wins have been enough to finish in the top eight in the 10-team Valley. In 18 previous years of regular-season play, 12 of the 13 teams to win five games (all but the 1997 Northern Iowa team) have finished in the top eight.

If the ’Birds, 6-17 overall, 4-10 in the Valley, win one more game, somebody with at least five wins will be out. Wichita State and Bradley already have five, and Indiana State has six. The ’Birds were one play from earning their fifth league win in regulation time Friday against Evansville, but the Aces emerged 77-71 in overtime.


[to top of second column in this article]

"The schedule is winding down," said Yopp, whose team has more than a half-dozen shots spin out of the basket when it looked like they wanted to go in. "I think we’re playing well right now, but I think we may have been a little tight at the start of that (UE) game. As we get older, we’ll learn to play more relaxed."

The other Redbird problem recently is free throws — the other team’s. Evansville broke a Redbird Arena record by attempting 44, to just 17 by Illinois State. The Aces made 14 more than ISU’s 12 makes — well beyond the difference in the final score.

"Foul trouble has hurt us," said Yopp, whose team was whistled for 29 on its own court against the Aces. "Some of our players have to sit out with foul trouble and have trouble getting back into the flow of the game."

Steph Reichle was in the flow against Evansville, with 11 points, eight rebounds, four assists and five steals. The last steal came after Stacey White tied the game on a 23-foot 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in regulation time. Reichle picked UE’s Latasha Austin clean, then launched a 42-foot attempt with a UE player bumping into her just ahead of the buzzer. It rimmed out, and Austin scored the first seven points in overtime for a UE win.

Reichle’s shot scared UE coach Tricia Cullop on two levels.

"It had a chance to go in, and I also thought they might have called a foul (on UE)," said Cullop.

In addition to Larson, the Redbirds will honor student manager Vance Catlin in post-game ceremonies. Catlin will earn a business degree this spring while completing his third season as a Redbird manager.

[ISU news release]

High school basketball

Area game results

[FEB. 16, 2002]   


At Fairbury

Olympia             17  33  35   40

Prairie Central      7  24  31   49

Sherman 2-1-6, Olson 0-2-2, Cheek 7-0-19, Dillenburg 3-0-7, Elliott 1-0-2, Schultz 1-0-2, Criswell 1-0-2, Thornton 0-0-0

Totals 15-3-40

Three-point field goals: Cheek, Sherman, Dillenburg

At Glasford

Mount Pulaski       17  39  51  75

Illini Bluffs             15   38  55  76

Miner 1-0-2, Coers 3-0-6, Dlements 4-8-16, Schilling 3-0-6, Olson 7-2-16, Blaum 0-2-2, Anderson 9-2-24, Waymire 0-0-0,
Erienbrush 1-0-3

Totals 28-14-75

Three-point field goals: Anderson, Erienbrush


At Springfield

Hartsburg-Emden    16  22  38  50 

Springfield Calvary  17  30   47  63

Ko. Leesman 2-0-4, Ke. Leesman 1-0-2, Fletcher 1-0-3, Anderson 4-0-9, Gleason 8-0-17, Jones 1-1-3, Wrage 6-0-12

Totals 23-1-50

Three-point field goals: Fletcher, Anderson, Gleason

At Springfield

Lincoln                    12   26   34   55
Springfield               13   26   43   57

Farmer 3-8-17, Komnick 5-0-13, Gallagher 0-0-0, Schonauer 2-0-5, Schrader 5-1-14, Welch 1-0-2, Young 0-2-2, Bunch 1-0-2

Totals 17-11-55

Three-point field goals: Farmer, Komnick Schrader, Schonauer


High school basketball

Area game results

[FEB. 15, 2002]   


Lincoln           7  11  17   29

Centennial    14  24  36   46

Bunch 1-0-2, Froschauer 4-0-10, Dawson 2-1-5, Ingram 2-1-6, Moore 0-2-2, Robbins 1-0-2, Carey 1-0-2

Three-point field goals: Froschauer 2, Ingram

College basketball

Lincoln Christian College vs. Moody Bible

[FEB. 15, 2002]   


Moody Bible          31  22 — 53

Lincoln Christian     49  38 — 87

Clark 8-4-24, Raymer 2-0-5, Gordon 2-0-4, Johnson 3-0-6, Below 1-0-2, Turney1-0-2, Okusami 2-0-4, Grooms6-0-12, Searby 13-0-28

Three-point field goals: Clark 4, Searby 2, Raymer


Moody Bible         23  22 — 45

Lincoln Christian    44  31 — 75

Szostek 1-0-2, Write 10-0- 20, Wertin 5-0-10, Robbins 9-0-21, O’Malley 4-0-8, DeVore 1-0-2, Jewell 3-0-6, Urton 1-1-3, Davis1-0-3

Three-point field goals: Robbins 3, Davis


Redbirds ready to control what they can

[FEB. 15, 2002]   NORMAL — In the five-team race for the final four spots in the 2002 State Farm-Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, Illinois State coach Jenny Yopp and her team won’t be "scoreboard watching" to check the progress of competitors. Yopp plans to have her team busy taking care of its own business.

"We can only control what we can control," said Yopp, whose team is 6-16 overall, 4-9 in the Valley, entering Friday’s 7:05 p.m. game with Evansville in Redbird Arena. "We have plenty of people telling us ‘what if’ regarding the Valley race. But, right now, this team plays its best when we are focused on doing what we can do on the court, controlling what we can control."

Two of the Redbirds who have been controlling well lately have been sophomore forward Stacey White and freshman forward Katie Donovan. White made 7-of -10 3-pointers while averaging 15.5 points per game on the recent trip to Creighton and Drake. Donovan has improved her offensive performance, continues to lead the ’Birds in rebounds (she had nine at Drake), and has been using her 6-foot height, long arms and quick feet to effectively guard opposing point guards.

"Stacey has come out of a little scoring slump better equipped to handle defensive pressure," said Yopp. "Katie has been excelling at both ends of the floor. She looks more confident in our offense and we know she is a rebounder and strong defender. It’s great to see that, at this time of the year, she’s advancing her game to a higher level."

In the battle for the final four spots in the Valley tournament, five teams have four, five or six wins, with still nearly one-third of the season remaining. Evansville 11-11 overall, 6-6 in the Missouri Valley, is one of those teams ahead of the ’Birds. The others are Bradley, Wichita State and Indiana State, all with five wins.


[to top of second column in this article]

The Aces also are one of four league teams with better conference road records (3-2) than home (3-4). Evansville coach Tricia Cullop is bothered by Illinois State’s offensive improvement since the teams last met. The Redbirds, averaging below 55 points per game before facing Evansville, have averaged 62 points per game since.

"Illinois State is a team that drives the ball to the basket really well," said Cullop. "I saw where they made eight 3-pointers at Drake. Being able to hit the 3 and drive as well as they do makes them dangerous."

Cullop believes her team has created its own problems, particularly in recent home losses to Southwest Missouri State and Wichita State. Evansville might be as glad to get out of town as the Redbirds are to be back home.

"We missed 13 free throws (on our own court) in one game," said Cullop. "We got into foul trouble in the other game. We need to control our emotions, limit our fouls and stay focused. For some reason, when we get away from home, we get focused on what we need to take care of."

Like the Redbirds, the Aces won’t be watching the scoreboard for other scores.

[ISU news release]

Redbirds ‘through the worst’ of injuries and illnesses

[FEB. 15, 2002]  NORMAL — Redbird women’s basketball athletic trainer Yvonne Logan has had her hands full lately with injuries and illnesses rummaging through players and staff. But Logan had good news to report on the progress of sophomore guard Jaci McCormack and freshman forward Sophie Tirtiaux, both sitting out the season with injuries.

Logan, herself battling the chest congestion and cough which has slowed several players and head coach Jenny Yopp the past two weeks, was all smiles when talking about McCormack’s ankle and Tirtiaux’s upper leg.

"Jaci’s progress is awesome," said Logan, in her fifth season with Redbird basketball. "Within two weeks, we feel she could begin getting involved in practice."

McCormack, ISU’s No. 2 scorer last year, had ankle surgery in November. Tirtiaux, a Belgium native who led Urbana High School to a team record for wins last season, was sidelined by a stress fracture in her upper leg after appearing in just one game.

"A bone scan showed the stress fracture is healed," said Logan. "Sophie has started bicycle workouts for the first time since November with limited pain. Toward the end of the season, we believe she can begin to practice with the team."

The news on sophomore center Sharon Blade, who has missed eight games with a foot problem, was not quite as promising as hoped earlier in the week. Blade saw podiatrist Dr. Gerald Paul at midweek, and it was decided she wouldn’t be able to play Friday against Evansville or Sunday against Southern Illinois.

"Her foot is still painful," said Logan. "She isn’t able to run properly. Sharon will see Dr. Paul again next Tuesday and we’ll go from there. For now, she’s doing light work during practice."


[to top of second column in this article]

The Redbirds also could be without freshman Chris Kutschinski this weekend. Kutschinski missed the most recent game against Drake because of a tendon injury in her leg. Starting with Friday’s shooting practice before the Evansville game, Kutschinski’s status will be day-to-day, according to Logan.

"Chris’ injury is to a tendon which attaches muscle to the leg bone," said Logan. "It’s an inflammation, so you can’t predict how it will feel from one day to the next."

According to Logan, sophomore forward Stacey White continues to play major minutes despite painful shin splints in both legs. The legs are wrapped in braces before each practice and each game. Junior guard Steph Reichle, from Lincoln, and sophomore guard Taren O’Brien both are playing through knee problems.

But the ‘bugs’ — the players’ name for two recent viruses to hit the team — are all but gone, according to Logan. At the same time, a stomach virus and the chest virus affecting Logan herself were crisscrossing the team. The chest problem hit Yopp especially hard, with the coughing and congestion affecting her voice. Logan said some players continued to have a cough, but most are feeling better than they did last week. Yopp admitted Wednesday she felt better than she had in two weeks.

"It has been tough on them," said Logan, "but I think we’re through the worst of it."

[ISU news release]

Grade school basketball

Olympia boys in Class 8AA tournament

[FEB. 14, 2002]   At Downs:


Olympia                       12  22  27   35

Bolingbrook Addams   11  22  35   46

Olympia stats:

Frantz 3, Strubhar 2, Stappenbeck 2, Burnette 22, Boudeman 6

College basketball

Lincoln College vs. Lewis & Clark

[FEB. 14, 2002]   At Lincoln:


Lewis & Clark       35  33 — 68

Lincoln College      33  49 — 82

Lincoln stats:

Roberson 3-0-7, Clark 1-0-3, Fowler 2-1-7, Turner 5-3-14, Sams 6-4-16, Major 5-4-15, Hollyfield 7-3-18, Bowen 1-0-2

Three-point goals: Fowler 2, Hollyfield, Major, Turner, Clark, Roberson


Lewis & Clark       26  45 — 71

Lincoln College      43  39 — 82

Lincoln stats:

Bausley 0-3-3, Scott 1-1-3, McLaughlin 2-0-5, Bossingham 2-0-4, Beebe 8-10-26, Calhoun 2-1-5, Sims 4-2-10, Dullard 7-2-16, Harper 5-0-10

Three-point goals: McLaughlin

Illinois State cruises past Evansville 73-55

[FEB. 14, 2002]   EVANVILLE, Ind. — Five Redbird players scored in double digits, including 14 each by Baboucarr Bojang and Gregg Alexander, as the Illinois State men’s basketball team defeated Evansville 73-55 in Valley action in Evansville, Ind., Tuesday night.

With the win, Illinois State (13-12, 9-5) moved above the .500 mark and won its seventh in the last eight games. Evansville fell to 5-18, 2-12.

Vince Greene and Shedrick Ford contributed 13 points each while Shawn Jeppson had 11. Bojang, who also posted 12 boards, notched his eighth double-double on the year.

Jumping out to a quick start, the ’Birds were 4-for-5 before the 16-minute mark and took an early 10-point lead, 12-2. Still up by 10 with 10 minutes to play in the first, Illinois State continued to dominate and held a 41-27 lead at halftime.


[to top of second column in this article]


The Redbirds did not falter in the second, never losing the edge, and were up by as many as 13, 66-51, with 3:26 to play. With an 18-point advantage with 1:40 left in the game, Evansville could not muster any more points.

The Redbirds face the Salukis of Southern Illinois on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. at Redbird Arena. It is designated Senator John Maitland Day, and Sen. Maitland will be honored at halftime of the game.

[ISU news release]

Illini edge Michigan State 63-61

[FEB. 14, 2002]   For a report on the Illini basketball game Tuesday night at East Lansing, Mich., see

College basketball

Lincoln Christian vs. St. Louis Christian

[FEB. 13, 2002]   


Lincoln Christian        33  49 — 82

St. Louis Christian     28  33 — 61

Clark 5-2-14, Raymer 5-2-14, Below 6-1-14, Brodfuehrer 0-1-1, Turney 1-2-5, O’Connor 2-2-7, Okusami 3-2-10, Grooms 3-0-6, Searby 4-2-11

Three-point field goals: Clark 2, Raymer 2, Okusami 2, Below, Turney, O’Connor, Searby

Mayfield’s Mutterings…

Weekend wild cards come up aces

By Jeff Mayfield

[FEB. 18, 2002]   Sometimes you have great sports weekends; other times you come up empty.  We here at the LDN always hope things come up rosy for your local teams and for the college and pro teams that you’re rooting for too.  This weekend seemed to be another example of just that.

Local college teams continue to roll on toward good seeds in the upcoming postseason.  The Railers and other scholastic teams are having great seasons.  At least one area wrestler, Jacob Fatheree of Clinton, came away with a state championship in Champaign-Urbana.  Locals Brian Cook and Gregg Alexander put Lincoln on the map Saturday, as both of them had monster games for their respective teams.  The weather continues to impress, and that means we can start thinking and talking about golf and other spring sports as well. And of course it was another wild week at Daytona, and we haven’t even mentioned the Olympics yet, have we.

Olympic controversy

We don’t know anything about figure skating.  We are glad that the skating judges won’t be giving the marks for the Illini basketball, or the French judge may have already have our team out of the running in the Big Ten.  We do know that it seems strange to change the outcome of an event so long after that actual event was over.  I am sure that the funky scoring that occurred in the pairs skating was not the first time that has ever happened in that sport.  Even an untrained eye like ours knows when somebody hits a jump or not or whether the skaters are in sync or not.  It’s almost a slap in the face of us fans the way they’ve gone about righting this wrong.

We mean, we guess it’s nice that a second gold was awarded to a pair that some experts said was jilted, but what about the other pairs?  What about the Americans?  Who, really now, should own the silver and bronze?  And if at least two pairs were affected, wasn’t every pair affected in some way?  And, hasn’t this shameful situation put in place the fact that probably the rest of the skating events will be affected in some way?

Maybe it’s just us, but we’re leery of any sport that uses a group of so-called impartial judges to determine the final outcome.

We bet Maryland is glad that Amaker, Hurley or Laettner or any other assembled group of former college greats now linked with a federation, won’t be allowed to decide if the Terps get the gold and Duke gets the silver!

Or, how ’bout the Raiders?  Don’t you think they’d like to have a team of judges ruling on whether Tom Brady fumbled or not?

For that matter, we’re sure a team of judges could tell you how many times the ball bounced before Franco Harris rumbled for a very undeserved score several years ago.

You Illini fans might be interested in a team of judges looking at how many times Dicky Beal traveled in the regional on Kentucky’s home court, and they might even want to look at how a game of that magnitude could have ever been played to someone’s home court advantage.

And Cardinal fans, no doubt, would take their chances with even the French and Russian judges over Don Deckinger in the ’85 debacle in Kansas City!

If you want in on this debate, give us a call on the radio show tonight!

Why is there so much corruption in amateur sports anyway?  We thought it was supposed to be the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat — NOT the thrill of making a voting deal in exchange for putting a gold medal in your pocket; and the agony of the rest of us having to watch their stinking pious faces every four years!

We just wish Jim Thorpe were alive today.  We think we could help put together a heck of a gang to rule the sports empire.

Oh well, let’s get back to professional sports; at least we expect greed, crime and corruption there!!!


Daytona 500

Ward Burton in the No. 22 car wins the Daytona 500; that is, if it’s OK with the skating judges?  Somebody who’s familiar with NASCAR, please call in tonight and enlighten those of us whose sports knowledge is weak in racing … please?

Railers split weekend set

While we’re sure that the Railers are not one bit happy about losing to Southeast, we did like the way they came out in the second half versus Jacksonville Saturday night.  There’s been a lot of history with the Crimsons over the years, so we were even more happy than the casual observers to win this one going away.

Hats off to our three seniors, Brandon Welch, Adam Schonauer and Ryan Bast, for going out in style with a win and with all three of them in the scoring column.  We’ve known these three for a few years and appreciate their efforts on behalf of our team and our community.  Good luck in the playoffs, and good luck in your college and other future plans.

Next up for the Railers is a road tilt with the No. 2-ranked team in the state, the undefeated Lions of Lanphier High School.  While Railer coach Neil Alexander did not say that the Lions would be impossible to beat, he made it quite clear that it would take a near perfect performance for Lincoln to come away with the upset.  Win or lose, we hope they come out of the game with enough info that, should the two combatants meet again at the PCCC, the Railers could avenge the spectacular three-overtime game played there a few years ago!

Lincoln will host a very difficult opponent in Rantoul at Roy S. Anderson on Tuesday, Feb. 26.  That is the same night the Illini will host Indiana.


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Former Railers make good

What can you say about Gregg Alexander and his Illinois State Redbirds?  While we have covered some of their games and mentioned them a little bit here, they were left for dead earlier this season.  At one time ISU was four or five games under .500 and going nowhere fast.  Now they have won seven of the their last eight, are 10-5 and solidly in third place in the Missouri Valley Conference, and are looking more and more like a team with postseason aspirations.

We had been talking NIT here and at FIX 96, but one local fan said, “how ’bout an NCAA bid?”  We said, “How ’bout one?”  We would be tickled to death with an NCAA bid.  But we’re not greedy!

Other Redbirds contributing to the huge 84-70 upset over SIU on Saturday afternoon were Shawn Jeppson, Shedrick Ford, Boo Bojang and Andy Strandmark with another huge performance.  If Strandmark can bring a consistent effort to the court game after game, that may very well dictate how far this Redbird team goes.

Tough road games loom on the horizon for ISU, as they still need to go to Wichita State and to Northern Iowa.  They will also play one more home contest against Evansville.

Illinois on the mend

We wonder how much the physical health of the Illini corresponds to the team’s recent four-game winning streak, which includes three road victories. And will people still bash Cook, Williams, Self, Mayfield or the cowboy that sells tickets in the parking lot every time things don’t go Illinois’ way?

One wonders how much perspective the Illini received on the importance or unimportance of college basketball in the grand scheme of life after visiting ground zero on Friday. One also wonders what effect that road trip will have as far as team chemistry and bonding are concerned the rest of the way.

Illinois is set to host Penn State at the Hall Wednesday night.  Illinois now stands at 19-7 and 7-5 in the Big Ten and would still like to secure a high seed for the conference tourney.

...Although as tough as our league is, doesn’t it really matter what you’re seeded?  The Big Ten bashers have been all over us saying that we are so weak this year.  They point to the very flawed RPI ranking to support their claims.  We’ve got a little somethum-somethum for them.  Don’t be surprised to see the Big Ten advance at least one team to the Final Four — and yes, we have one team in mind that we would really like to see in Atlanta!  Our league from top to bottom is the best in the nation once again this year — and yes, we do have some stats to back that position.

Baseball breakfast

My son and I attended the Railer baseball fund-raiser Sunday morning on our way to church.  Glad to see the diamond boys working to improve their lot.  Coach Hake has done a great job with this program, and here’s hoping that they will have a wonderful season!  We intend to get some 411 to you loyal LDN readers soon in this column and hopefully on the FIX 96 call-in show!

Lincoln swimmers

The Lincoln High School swimmers participated in the sectional at Pekin on Saturday. No info was available when we went to post.

Shameless promotion

Please join Greg Taylor and some other joker on the new FIX 96 sports call-in show every Monday night starting at 6!  We want your calls and we want to talk about the stuff you want to talk about.  Hopefully, we’ll have some more giveaways and a few surprises for you along the way.

Shameless promotion Part 2

We want to let you know that Lincoln Christian College will be dedicating their new sports arena and fitness center next Saturday, Feb. 23, at 10 a.m.  We’re sure that LCC would love to see dozens of community people come out and join us for this truly historic event.

And is there a better Lincoln resident that a building should be named for than Lynn Laughlin?  We think not!

Eight-time Boston Marathon champion Jean Driscoll will be the keynote speaker for the event.  LCC’s women’s basketball team will officially open the facility with a 1 p.m. game, followed by a men’s game at 3 featuring Matt Clark, who still has a chance to become the all-time leading scorer in Illinois small-college history!

The LDN sports staff would be happy to give you a personal tour of the facility or of our campus. Come and join us!



We’re ramblin’ guys, so how ’bout some ramblins…

•  Was it just us or was this one of the best years ever for area junior high basketball?

•  I sure hope the Illini don’t have to face Duke, Maryland or Georgia until the NCAA championship game.

•  Did you happen to catch that Southeast went to Quincy on Saturday night and won for the first time there in over 20 years?

•  Notice how many people are sheepishly climbing back on the Illini bandwagon?

•  We would really like to see the Railers advance to the sectional level and see how good all these teams really are.

Hope you all have a great sports week and an even better week in the classroom and as a citizen!!!  See you all tonight on FIX 96 at 6!!!

[Jeff Mayfield]


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