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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Dieterich Post 628 eliminates Teutopolis Post 924 3-2
Errors proved to be Teutpolis Post 924's undoing against Dieterich Post 628, as Dieterich's sixth-inning rally in an 3-2 win were boosted by three Teutopolis errors
To lead off the sixth, Trenton Poe reached on an error by Brock Bueker, and came around to score on an infield single by Ryan Radloff with a throwing error on Bueker. Poe was already on third when the ball went in the Teutopolis dugout, awarding Poe home to tie the game.
Bryce McClain followed with an RBI single to score Radloff and put Post 628 up for good. Dieterich scored again on a Briar Schmidt groundout where first baseman Brant Bueker tried to get an inning-ending out at second, but the throw was wild and brought home McClain.
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