Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


December 31, 2013

Christmas Classic shows promise

EFFINGHAM — With the inaugural Effingham-Teutopolis Christmas Classic in the books, I'm already looking back on how I spent a whirlwind weekend at the tournament.

The most important question for any of these tournaments is always: Was the basketball any good?

The Christmas Classic gets a rousing yes in that department. While the games weren't always the closest, the matchups and the way the games played out lent themselves well to some interesting storylines.

Any game involving Chicago Al Raby was interesting on its face, just to see how their style would match up with the teams from down south. Even the fifth-place game against winless teams Mattoon and Charleston was dramatic with two fierce rivals facing off.

Mt. Vernon/Teutopolis might have been the most entertaining game of the tournament with Teutopolis blitzing the Rams late, and if not, it was the title game.

With respects to the other fan bases and teams, the Christmas Classic got the matchup everyone wanted to see with Effingham and Teutopolis facing off for the crown.

It was exactly what you'd expect, a hard-fought game between two teams that know each other like the backs of their respective hands. Even the final score was misleading, with Teutopolis putting the clamps on late and running away with what had been a close game.

But now I'm looking toward the future, toward next year, toward five years down the road.

And for the inaugural event, I think it was a great success.

The gyms were generally pretty full, even for the morning games Saturday and for the games not involving the host schools. Even some of the most entrenched local tournaments struggle to fill seats when the most local of teams aren't playing.

I originally was disappointed to not see the fans from Al Raby in attendance, as fan presence at tournaments is great for the schools and the area, because that kind of trip increases hotel reservations and money spent in the area.

But, the team was a late addition, and teams and families generally have their Christmas plans shored up long before a week prior to the tournament.

The Classic is serious about its growth, as the topic was discussed many times over the weekend. I think that's wise, but I do think it would benefit the tournament to look as wide as possible.

To me, the tournament is meant to showcase the basketball of the area and the area itself to new guests. With a good mix of local-ish teams like Mt. Vernon and Charleston, and a few more teams from around the state like Al Raby, I think that's a reachable goal.

Tournament officials should look to the example set by the Crossroads Classic volleyball tournament held in town, headed up by George Wenthe. I know Wenthe is always scouring the area for new teams, heading to state tournaments, making contacts, etc.

With that kind of mentality, the tournament could become the destination holiday tournament in the area. That's not to say such efforts aren't being conducted, but the perfect example of how to make something like this work happens to be held in the same city.

Any complaint I had was of the most minor variety, and mostly couldn't have been avoided from a first-ever event.

The hopes are there. The expectations are there. The only things the Classic needs is time to build the event up the way they want to.

And after the first one, I don't doubt they'll get there.


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  • 7-29NewtonOrientmain.JPG Newton's season ends in 14-4 loss

     Newton Post 20 almost pulled another comeback off against the Orient Miners, cutting a 5-1 deficit to 5-4 midway through Monday night’s game.
    But Newton’s Junior Legion Fifth Division tournament run came to an end, as Orient rattled off nine runs in the sixth inning and clinched a spot in the state tournament with a 14-4 win.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-28NewtonSundaygame2.JPG Comeback win keeps Post 20 alive in 10-7 win

    Newton Post 120 didn’t let a 4-1 deficit get to them against Highland Post 439, using a patient approach in the face of an elimination game.
    Three bases-loaded walks in the bottom of the third tied the game at 4-4, and with the bases loaded down 5-4 in the fourth, Tim Weber broke the game open with a two-run double and an error.
    By the time the dust settled, Newton led 10-5 heading to the sixth inning and would hold on to a 10-7 win to keep its season alive.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-28NewtonSundaygame1.JPG Salem deals Newton first divisional loss

    Mitch Bierman started off Newton Post 20’s game against Salem Post 128 with a bang Sunday afternoon, hitting a leadoff triple and scoring on the next batter.
    Post 20’s offense didn’t follow his lead from there, as Newton had just three more hits and no runs, and falling in a Junior Legion Fifth Division winner’s bracket game to Salem 12-1 in seven innings.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0725.JPG Newton Post 20 bests Belleville Post 58 in opener 6-1
    After a 9-3 loss to Breese Post 252 Gray Monday night, Newton Post 20 coach John Grunloh predicted the five-day break until the Junior Legion Fifth Division tournament would be good for his players, especially his pitchers. 
    Mitch Jansen proved his coach right, spinning a gem in Newton's opener Saturday afternoon as Post 20 made short work of Belleville Post 58 6-1. 

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • daughertyfootball.jpg Hearts to prep with Mattoon 7-on-7

    Two weeks ago, Effingham was supposed to start shaking off the rust with a 7-on-7 football tournament in Mattoon. Naturally, it rained and was canceled.
    So Saturday, the Flaming Hearts will head up to Mattoon and play their first 7-on-7 event of the season, taking part in an 10- team field with Mattoon, Rochester, Robinson, Marshall, Cahokia and Pleasant Plains from Illinois, with Terre Haute North and Northview coming from Indiana. Rochester is bringing two squads.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mammoser3.jpg Newton Post 20 plays Belleville Saturday

    With the District 23 tournament behind them, Newton Post 20 now knows its fate for the Fifth Division Junior Legion tournament this weekend in Bethalto.
    Newton will play Belleville Post 58 at 2:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Bethalto, in the third game of six on the day.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bateman.jpg Effingham's season comes to a close with 11-1 loss to Salem

    A 1-0 lead for Effingham Post 120 rapidly evaporated, and the post’s Junior Legion season came to an end with a 11-1 loss in five innings to Salem Post 128 Tuesday night.
    The game was for the final spot of District 23 in the divisional tournament, with Newton Post 20 and Breese Post 252 Gray punching their tickets by winning their district divisions.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bierman.jpg Newton Post 20 falls short against Breese Gray 9-3

    While the District 23 title ultimately exceeded Newton Post 20’s grasp, their season will continue in Bethalto.
    Newton took on Breese Post 252 Gray for the Junior Legion District 23 title as the two division winners, but Breese’s bats proved too much for Newton in an 9-3 loss for Post 20.
    “The innings where they put some runs on us, we gave them some extra outs,” said Newton coach John Grunloh. “You’ve got to make the plays when you play better teams.”

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Barnes3.jpg Barnes' one-hitter boosts Post 120; Effingham beats Dieterich 1-0

    Ryan Barnes hasn’t seen a lot of time with Effingham Post 120’s junior legion team this season, but he showed up in a big way Monday night in a 1-0 win over Dieterich Post 628.
    The win kept Effingham’s season alive one more day in the Junior Legion District 23 tournament, as the post will face Salem Post 128 at 5:30 p.m. today for the district’s final spot in the divisional round. Salem Post 128 downed Mt. Vernon Post 141 1-0 in the West Division loser’s bracket, setting up the final with Effingham today.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mammoser2.jpg Newton Post 20 tops Effingham Post 120 7-5 late

    Most of the games at the Junior Legion District 23 tournament have seen pitching take control, but the pitchers in Sunday night's Effingham Post 120/Newton Post 20 game faced an uphill battle.
    While Brock Mammoser started the game for Post 20 on the hill and struggled, he came through with the biggest hit in the game, putting Newton up for good in a 7-5 win over Effingham.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

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