What a difference three months makes.
Last Friday's Teutopolis/Breese Central game was easily the best high school sporting event I've ever covered. The drama, the storylines, the intrigue with everything on the line was unrivaled.
It was quite a turnaround from the first T-Town game I ever covered.
After arriving in Effingham in December, the first game I attended at J.H. Griffin Arena was the Teutopolis/Highland game on Dec. 18.
I'd heard a lot about the Shoes, but they came out about as flat as possible as they fell behind 29-13 at the half.
Coach Andy Fehrenbacher even replaced his entire lineup in the second quarter with all reserves, including a couple players who split time with the junior varsity.
Teutopolis found its stroke in the second half, but didn't come back. Fehrenbacher didn't mince words in the postgame interview, calling the effort "extremely frustrating."
At the time, I didn't know what it meant for Teutopolis in terms of their season. But a spark was lit that day.
Since that loss, Teutopolis is 21-1, and have won 20 straight. Those players who came off the bench? Among them was Reed Hardiek, who has turned into a good shooter and floor spacer for the Shoes. Cody Will also came off the bench that day, and he had double digit points Friday against BC in a gritty performance.
The final player to find his footing after that loss? Friday's hero Brett Mette, who soon after claimed a starting spot along with Will, and Mette is one of the few freshmen to ever start for Teutopolis.
Now, the Shoes are in very familiar territory for their program. They've advanced to their third straight Super-Sectional, and they couldn't have come closer to make the state finals in the past two seasons, losing by one point both years.
Harrisburg should be as tough a test, if not a tougher one. Harrisburg enters today's Super-Sectional at a whopping 30-1. Their lone loss comes to a nationally ranked Dyer County (Tenn.).
Tyler Smithpeters leads the Bulldogs with about 17 points per game, and Capel Henshaw averages 14.9 points per game as well.
Ultimately, it'll come down to two cliches of the postseason: senior leadership and defense.
Throw out the stats for Teutopolis. Kyle Pruemer may be second on the team in scoring, but he's been on both teams that lost in Super-Sectional play, missing a layup in the waning seconds of last year's loss to Normal University.
There's no stat that can quantify how much Pruemer, Derek Smith and the other Shoes will want to redeem themselves after back-to-back heartbreaks.
The team I saw in December probably couldn't have. The team I saw Friday night, that came back from three down in 40 seconds against the defending state champs?
Ryan Czachorski can be reached at (217) 347-7151, ext. 135, or email@example.com.
What a difference three months makes.
Teutopolis advances to 4th straight Super-Sectional
Teutopolis couldn't have started each of the first three quarters any better.
The Wooden Shoes Shoes took an 11-0 lead in the first five minutes of the first quarter and started the second and third quarters on 7-0 and 9-0 runs, respectively.
Their third-quarter outburst gave them the 17-point lead that was too much for Greenville to come back from. The Shoes won 64-53 to advance to Tuesday's Class 2A Carbondale Super-Sectional at Southern Illinois University. It's Teutopolis' fourth-straight trip to the Super-Sectional round.
Maroons make history
With just more than 12 minutes left, Dieterich's offense was scuffling and the Movin' Maroons trailed St. Anthony by 11, 34-23.
Then Alex Bohnhoff kick started the Maroons' offense with a pair of 3-pointers, and Dieterich completed a big comeback to down their NTC rivals 58-51 and win its first-ever sectional title
Zerrusen reflects on 1K milestone, career
Josie Zerrusen used to be a handful for her Effingham coaches, but turned into a headache for opponents by the end her senior season.
Zerrusen, the only one of four Hearts seniors to reach 1,000 points in her career this season, was preoccupied with scoring points as a sophomore on a 20-10 team in 2012.
But the Hearts improved as Zerrusen matured, recording 54 wins in the last two seasons, including a school-record 28 this season and a regional championship. Zerrusen grew up by changing her attitude and refusing to take summers off.
All-NTC showdown set at sectionals
At least one area team will play Monday at Southern Illinois University for Super-Sectionals. Teutopolis is looking to make it two.
Tonight will mark the end of the road for either St. Anthony (22-10) or Dieterich (22-8), as the NTC rivals clash for the Class 1A Red Hill Sectional championship. A win would be Dieterich’s first-ever sectional crown, and it would be the first for St. Anthony since 2001.
Teutopolis (20-9) is looking to advance to the Super-Sectional round for the fourth-straight season and is playing for a sectional title for the fifth-straight year. The Wooden Shoes take on Greenville for the Class 2A Vandalia Sectional title.
Olney ends Effingham's season
Effingham battled offensive woes in waves this season and found ways to win almost 80 percent of the time, but not on Wednesday.
Olney, one of the Hearts' 20 victims this year, ended Effingham's season with a 35-32 win in the Salem Regional, surviving a poor shooting night as well.
Dieterich advances in convincing fashion
The Dieterich Movin' Maroons used a January loss to Patoka to motivate themselves Wednesday night at the Class 1A Red Hill Sectional.
It was more successful than they ever could have hoped for, as Dieterich stomped the Patoka Warriors 61-39 and advanced to Friday's sectional final against St. Anthony.
St. Anthony edges Oblong 72-69
BRIDGEPORT — A rare miss by Oblong’s Koert Mehler made the most noise.
Mehler heaved a 75-foot, full-court shot that barely rimmed out to send the game to overtime; instead, St. Anthony (22-10) survived 72-69 to advance to Friday’s Class 1A Red Hill Sectional championship.
Mette leads Wooden Shoes past Breese Central
Breese Central simply has to be getting sick of the Teutopolis Wooden Shoes.
Teutopolis moved to 4-1 in its last five games against Breese Central, and knocked out the Cougars at sectionals for the second straight year with a 63-40 win Tuesday night at the Class 2A Vandalia Sectional. If that wasn’t enough, the Lady Shoes ended Breese Central’s season in girls basketball last week as well.
Neoga's Romack heading to Lincoln Land
Neoga coach Ted Kerner praised his ace pitcher Tyler Romack's ability to read players and quickly learn their tendencies on the mound.
St. Anthony's Walsh commits to be a Cobra
Makayla Walsh made it official Friday afternoon, as the St. Anthony Bulldogs' shortstop signed to play softball at Parkland College next season.
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- Teutopolis advances to 4th straight Super-Sectional