Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

March 26, 2014

LIC, NTC set for Saturday showdown

18 local players to play in 30-man game

Ryan Czachorski
Effingham Daily News

TOLEDO — The area’s best basketball players will be on one court, representing the Little Illini and National Trail Conferences on Saturday.

Conference supremacy is at stake in the Central Illinois All-Star Basketball game in Toledo and the players continue to bring more competitiveness to the table, All-Star game director and Cumberland head coach Justin Roedl said.

“The kids didn’t take it real serious six years ago,” Roedl said. “In the past five or six years, the kids are competitive and want to win. They’re coming out and defending a little bit more.”

Players like Altamont’s Garrett Ziegler and Newton’s Luke Stone lead their respective conference teams, which are made up of 15 players apiece.

The coaches nominate their deserving seniors, then vote for the 15 best nominees. The 15 top vote-getters make the team, Roedl said.

South Central’s Rick Simmons and Windsor’s Silas Pogue will coach the NTC all-stars, while Flora’s Phil Leib and Curtis Leib head the LIC squad.

Altamont and St. Anthony lead the NTC team with three representatives apiece, while Casey-Westfield, Flora, Newton and Olney each have three on the LIC side.

“It’s always nice to get to see the kids not as your opponents, but your team,” Roedl said. “It’s neat to see conference rivals come together to work together, instead of trying to stop each other.”

Ziegler, an Associated Press All-State honorable mention and NTC most valuable player, leads his team, bringing along teammates Cole Borders and Derek Jahraus.

Neil Williams, Alex Hoelscher and John Goeckner made the squad from St. Anthony, while Dieterich, who shared the NTC regular season title with Altamont and St. Anthony, placed Tanner Traub on the team.

The Movin’ Maroons went further than any team represented at Saturday’s All-Star game. The Maroons lost to Sesser-Valier in the Class 1A Carbondale Super-Sectional.

Neoga landed Wyatt Krikie and Jake Baker on the team, joining Beecher City’s Brady Barnes. Alex Allen represents Windsor and is Pogue’s only player in the team.

Levi Maxey and Jacob Behrends represent St. Elmo/Brownstown, while Stew-Stras’ Brandon Helmuth and Jason Fry round out the NTC bunch.

Roedl said players like Casey-Westfield’s Brandon Wolfe and Zack Murphy stand out to him for the LIC side, as well as Newton’s Luke Stone and Oblong’s Koert Mehler.

Sam Huisinga joins his Casey-Westfield teammates, while Caleb Chesnut and Gunner Pickens will also represent Newton.

Ethan Leib, John Casolari and Pedro Mendoza are Flora’s three representatives, while Olney also lands three players on the all-star team – Chance Madden, Evan Eagleson and Alec St. Pierre.

Robinson’s Landon Hoagland and Michael Akande round out the LIC squad, which beat the NTC 80-55 in last year’s all-star game.

Saturday’s game is set to tipoff at 7:30 p.m. at Cumberland High School, after a 7 p.m. 3-point contest.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or alex.mcnamee@effinghamdailynews.com.