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.
Cardinals fly by Blackhawks 16-0
The frustrations from a tough 7-6 loss by North Clay to South Central Tuesday were relieved on the field Wednesday, as the Cardinals blasted the Sandoval Blackhawks 16-0 in five innings.
Czachorski: My own field of dreams
A few weeks ago, I sat behind the backstop at Evergreen Park, watching St. Anthony and South Central play baseball and taking photos when I overheard a conversation.
It was a few seven- or eight-year-old kids, just talking about the game in front of them, nearly gushing over some of their favorite players on St. Anthony.
Green settling into Whitecaps rotation
Since inking his pro deal, Effingham and University of Louisville alum Chad Green has donned a number of different jerseys.
In just over a year, Green's played for the Gulf Coast League Tigers, the Lakeland Flying Tigers, the West Michigan Whitecaps and, even just for a day or two, the Detroit Tigers.
Windsor/Stew-Stras combines for five-inning no-hitter
The second inning was good to Windsor/Stew-Stras again.
The Blue Devils scored 17 runs in the second inning of their 19-7 win against Cumberland on Tuesday, then scored 10 more in the same frame of a 16-0 rout of Ramsey on Wednesday, all while being shut out in the first inning of both games.
Altamont downs Charleston 6-2
At least it’s the last year of the Ohnesorges for Altamont’s opponents.
That’s the sister duo of Madison and Lauren that have been top athletes at Altamont High School. The pair produced once again in a 6-2 win over Charleston at Karch Field.
Pitcher's duel: Gardewine leads St. Anthony over Teutopolis 1-0
Zach Gardewine gripped the game ball tightly in his right hand and smiled.
It’s not every day a pitcher shuts out the loaded Teutopolis lineup and he knew it. Gardewine became the first player to blank the Wooden Shoes, in St. Anthony’s 1-0 win on Tuesday, since Dieterich duo Tanner Traub and Jake Bohnhoff on March 22, 2013.
Ziegler's choice an easy one
Lake Land College’s Grace Ziegler had a choice after her two years playing were up.
The Altamont alumna basically whittled her options down to this: continue to play basketball collegiately at a four-year institution, or transfer to a four-year institution to have a traditional college student experience.
Vonderheide, W/SS win at Charleston 12-0
Christian Vonderheide had the luxury of choosing which was better.
It was either the grand slam, or a complete game shutout thrown by the right hander.
“They are both pretty equal,” Vonderheide said. “Pitching is more of my thing. The grand slam I got lucky. I swung hard, and I was lucky enough for it to go over the fence."
The win could be more important as Windsor/Stew-Stras pounded a 12-0 win over Charleston at CHS Field.
Czachorski: Time to catch Cup fever
I woke up early Friday morning and did something I never do these days -- I flipped on SportsCenter.
It was the top of the 7 a.m. hour, and unshockingly, ESPN led with discussion of the playoffs.
What left me flabbergasted was they were leading with the NHL playoffs, as I was truly unaware ESPN remembered that hockey was a sport.
Indians' bats too much for Eagles
An 11 a.m. start on Good Friday wasn't too early for Altamont, as the Indians pushed 10 across in the first frame and bested Newton 16-1 in five innings.
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