The 2010-11 season was another successful four months for the area boys basketball teams. Two teams — Neoga and St. Elmo — won regional championships, with the Eagles doing so in a late-season turnaround that saw coach Greg Feezel’s team overcome a rough start and the Indians taking on all comers with a starting lineup lacking any 6-footers.
Two other teams made longer postseason runs. Windsor had its best season in 40 years after winning a regional championship before falling just short in its sectional championship game. Teutopolis’ season ended one game short of a state tournament berth, as the Wooden Shoes saw their state hopes sunk on a Pittsfield buzzer-beater at the University of Illinois-Springfield Super-Sectional.
Senior leadership was the crux of success for the area teams, and that is mirrored in the selections for the 2011 Effingham Daily News All-Area Team. Nine of the 10 players selected by participating area coaches played their final high school basketball games this March. Only Newton leading scorer Peyton Wyatt will be back next season.
Wyatt was also one of four unanimous selections, joining T-Town’s Nick Schumacher and Derek Thompson and St. Anthony’s James Jansen.
Jansen, who averaged just more than 18 points and six assists for the Bulldogs, made a strong case as one of the best players in the area after leading St. Anthony to a 23-win season. He earned two all-state honors, was named the National Trail Conference MVP and earned EDN Player of the Year honors based on his on-court performance and value to his team.
“James is a player that makes his team a lot better,” Brownstown coach and Effingham native Vince Rohr said. “He is a true leader on the floor, and a great shooter, ball handler and defender. He is the engine that makes his team run. St. Anthony was a great team this year, but without him they would be average.”
Schumacher and Thompson checked in as T-Town’s No. 1 and No. 2 scorers on a team where balanced offense — several players were individual single-game scoring leaders for the Shoes — and stingy defense ruled. Schumacher led T-Town with 15.2 ppg and 5.9 rebounds-per-game, while Thompson chipped in 12.7 ppg.
Both were instrumental to the Shoes’ 29-3 finish. Schumacher had an uncanny knack to score from nearly every point on the court in addition to his strong rebounding ability, and Thompson not only added 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game but also could get a crowd fired up at the drop of a hat with one of his thunderous dunks.
Wyatt, the lone junior of the bunch, was a prolific scorer for Newton, pouring in 20.3 ppg on 46 percent shooting. Wyatt’s diverse offensive game — he’s just as effective driving to the basket as he is pulling up from 3-point range — helped the Eagles to a strong start to the season. Newton cooled off midway through the season but held its own come postseason time in one of the toughest Class 2A regionals in the state.
Jeremy Wohltman was one of three returning players for Effingham with varsity experience — and one of two with extended playing time at the varsity level. Wohltman ended up scoring in double figures in all 28 of Effingham’s games and led the Hearts with 18.0 ppg and 6.6 rpg in a 12-16 season cut short with a close regional semifinal loss to Mattoon.
Windsor relied on Kyle Floyd throughout his high school career. Floyd ended up the Blue Devils’ starting point guard six games into his freshman season and led Windsor to its first 20-win season in 45 years as a senior, scoring 18.9 ppg while breaking the 1,000-point scoring barrier for his career.
While Bryn Price might have looked a little different in Windsor blue than Neoga red, the senior guard was well known by the Blue Devils. A year after ending Windsor’s season in a regional semifinal game, Price’s transfer gave Windsor the shutdown defender it was missing as well as another scoring option, which Price turned into an 18.3 ppg average.
Travis Cornell epitomized Neoga’s season. Standing 5-foot-11, the senior guard was actually one of the tallest starters for the Indians. Cornell gave Neoga hard-nosed defense and also led the Indians in scoring (13.5), rebounds (7.0), steals (2.3) and field goal percentage (50.6), making him a key contributor in a 17-13 season that ended in a sectional semifinal loss to Red Hill.
Luke Levitt was one consistent point in a roller-coaster season for the Beecher City Eagles. Not only did the senior forward and four-year contributor move past the 1,000-point career scoring barrier early in his final high school season before finishing with 1,434 career points, but he provided strong rebounding and a go-to scoring option for a relatively young Eagles team. Levitt finished his senior season averaging almost a double-double with 16 points and eight rebounds per game.
Standing just 6 feet tall, Dieterich’s Sam Thoele routinely had the tough task of going up against National Trail Conference rivals checking in at 6-foot-3 and taller. Nonetheless, the Movin’ Maroons’ senior gave Dieterich solid scoring and rebounding all year and had a triple-double early in the season. Thoele averaged 10.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game all while shooting 52 percent from the field.
So experience did rule this year in the area boys basketball scene. Thirty-one of the 45 players that make up the all-area team and honorable and special mention lists were seniors and have played their final high school games.
That leaves 10 returning juniors, four returning sophomores and a host of other players coming back next year to try and fill the void left by a talented senior class.
Travis Cornell (Neoga); Kyle Floyd (Windsor); James Jansen (St. Anthony); Luke Levitt (Beecher City); Bryn Price (Windsor); Nick Schumacher (Teutopolis); Sam Thoele (Dieterich); Derek Thompson (Teutopolis); Jeremy Wohltman (Effingham); Peyton Wyatt (Newton)
Colby Bushue (South Central); Clint Carlen (Cumberland); Nick Ferris (Stewardson-Strasburg); Ryne Floyd (Windsor); Nick Gardewine (Effingham); Andrew Grahn (North Clay); Jordan McGinnis (Altamont); Jaton McMechan (Cumberland); Mark Niebrugge (Teutopolis); T.J. Roy (Neoga); Ryan Schmitt (St. Anthony); Fischer Tharp (South Central); Dalton Zimmerman (North Clay)
Connor Beasley (St. Elmo); Bo Blievernicht (Teutopolis); Taran Bohnhoff (Dieterich); Trey Braun (Teutopolis); Brett Deters (Teutopolis); Brandon Duckwitz (Altamont); Ryan Heiden (Altamont); Dalton Hinterscher (Dieterich); Jacob Jahraus (Altamont); Hunter Keith (Effingham); Kit Koerner (St. Anthony); Bryce Mason (Brownstown); Luke Moore (Cowden-Herrick); Adam Probst (Neoga); Ryan Ragland (St. Anthony); Zach Rigdon (Brownstown); Luke Rincker (Stewardson-Strasburg); Dylan Scott (Cumberland); Ben Sperry (St. Elmo); Matt Tabbert (Stewardson-Strasburg); Alex Turner (Cowden-Herrick); Jonah Zink (North Clay)
Bruce Austin (Windsor); Greg Feezel (St. Elmo); Andy Fehrenbacher (Teutopolis); Jason Hanson (Neoga); Doug Hill (Altamont); Doug Mammoser (Newton); Ron Reed (Effingham); Justin Roedl (Cumberland); Vince Rohr (Brownstown); Shane Smith (Stewardson-Strasburg); Jamie VanScyoc (Dieterich); Brian Wattles (North Clay)