March 18, 2017

Brad Underwood takes over Illinois basketball program

A little more than an hour ago, University of Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman announced his replacement for head basketball coach John Groce. The Illini Nation will now welcome former Oklahoma State head Brad Underwood back to another coaching position in the Land of Lincoln, this time a 150 or so miles east of his last stint in the state and as the leader of Fighting Illini basketball program.



Underwood was an assistant with Western Illinois University's Jim Kerwin in Macomb for 10 years from 1993-2003.

Ten years after leaving the Leathernecks, Underwood was hired as head coach of Stephen F. Austin in April of 2013. In his debut season as a head coach he captured the Southland Conference regular season championship with perfect 18-0 record in conference play.

Coaching in his one and only one season with the Cowboys, the 53 year-old left the program with a 20-13 record with his team finishing in fifth-place in the conference standings. OSU exited the postseason NCAA tournament after a 92-91 loss to the Michigan Wolverines.

"Brad's teams play a fast, aggressive style and show unyielding toughness. They have a tremendous energy that I believe will ignite the Orange Krush and our fans to once again make State Farm Center one of the most intimidating venues in all of college basketball," said Whitman in a statement released on FightingIllini.com. "Off the court, Brad builds strong, personal relationships with his student-athletes. His winning combination of strong Midwest values and tenacious work ethic are a perfect fit for our community and the Illini Nation."

Whitman will reportedly pay Oklahoma State's buyout fee of $3 million to secure his newest coaching hire's release from a five-year, $6.3 million deal. Underwood is expected to more than double his salary with at $3 million a year contract with Illinois.

Underwood, who will go from wearing orange and black to orange and blue, will face several challenges including in-state recruiting and satisfying fans hungry for more W's against ranked opponents than Groce could manufacture in his quest to put Illinois back on the national hoops limelight.

Groce was let go after producing dismal 95-75 record in his five tremulous seasons on March 11.

Despite the rocky road that lies ahead, Underwood is anxious to get the work on his tenure.

"Coaching basketball at the University of Illinois is a once-in-lifetime opportunity," Underwood said. "I want to thank Josh Whitman for the opportunity to join the Fighting Illini family and look forward to working with him to build a championship program. I can't wait to get started with our team. Next season can't get here fast enough for me!"

Underwood will officially be introduced as the head coach this coming Monday at the State Farm Center.


Underwood Coaching Experience

2016-17 - Head Coach, Oklahoma State University
2013-16 - Head Coach, Stephen F. Austin State University
2012-13 - Associate Head Coach, University of South Carolina
2011-12 - Associate Head Coach, Kansas State University
2007-11 - Assistant Coach, Kansas State University
2006-07 - Director of Operations, Kansas State University
2003-06 - Head Coach, Daytona Beach (Fla.) Community College
1992-2003 - Assistant Coach, Western Illinois University
1988-92 - Head Coach, Dodge City (Kan.) Community College
1986-87 - Graduate Assistant, Hardin-Simmons University

March 11, 2017

St. Anthony Survives In OT To Win Program's First State Title

Head coach Cody Rincker told reporters today was the best birthday he's experienced.

"Other than the first one, (it's) right up there," he said after St. Anthony survived an overtime scare to win the Class 2A state basketball title. "Very nice. I couldn't ask for much better."


St. Anthony head coach Cody Rincker
March 11, 2017 - Peoria, IL - St. Anthony head coach Cody Rincker yells instructions to players in the fourth quarter of their Class 1A championship game against Okawville. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Three of his players delivered double digit scores to gift wrap the team's 49-46 win over Okawville at Carver Arena. Drew Gibson, a member of the trio, put the red, white and blue bow on Rincker's first state title at St. Anthony in the form of two clutch free throws with three seconds left in OT. The senior made six of his eight shots from the line, the last two were crucial.

"We've been working for this all year," said Gibson. "All the hard work we put in eventually paid off."

Gibson finished the contest with 14 points as did junior Alex Beesley in his 34 minutes on the floor. Adam Levitt rounded out the top three scorers with 12 points and a team-high 6 rebounds.


St. Anthony's Adam Levitt takes a shot in the fourth quarter during their Class 1A championship game against Okawville. The junior finished the game with 12 points and 6 rebounds. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Down by seven at the half, Okawville's Noah Frederking turned up the heat in the second half. The 6-4 senior help chisel away at the Bulldogs' lead with an impressive game-high 20 point effort. The Rockets end the season with the runner-up trophy and a 32-4 record.


Box Score

Okawville
Noah Frederking 9-14, 1-2, 7-9, 7, 26; Kirklen Meier 0-1,0-1,0-0, 1, 0; Josh Madrid 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0, 0; Caleb Frederking 1-4, 0-1, 0-1, 2, 2; Shane Ganz 4-7, 0-1, 1-4, 1, 9; Payten Harre 1-2, 1-2, 0-0, 2, 3; Luke Hensler 2-4, 2-4, 0-0, 5, 6; TEAM 17-32, 4-11, 8-14, 21, 46

St. Anthony
Drew Gibson 4-14, 0-2, 6-8, 5, 14; Alex Beesley 6-10, 1-1, 1-1, 4, 14; Cade Walsh 1-5, 1-3, 0-0, 2, 3; Alex Deters 2-2, 1-1, 1-2, 2, 6; Adam Levitt 6-7, 0-0, 0-1, 6, 12; Jack Nuxoll 0-3, 0-1, 0-0, 0, 0; Brandon Runge 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0, 0; TEAM 19-41, 3-8, 8-12, 23, 49

March 5, 2017

Geneva wins state basketball title in Class 4A thriller

Down by one point with 8 seconds on the game clock, Stephanie Hart rebounded a missed layup by teammate Margaret Whitley in the paint despite furious attempts by Edwardsville defenders Kate Martin, Criste'on Waters and Rachel Pranger, all trying to knock the ball out of grasp. Propelling the ball upwards in frantic desperation shot, the ball bounced off the rim and then plummeted through the net to give the Geneva Vikings a 41-40 edge.



Members of the Geneva girls' basketball team pose for photos while celebrating with their championship trophy on Saturday evening. The Vikings won their first state title in program history after defeating Edwardsville in an exciting, down to the wire Class 4A thriller, 41-40. Click here to see and share 30 more photos in the PhotoNews Media gallery ... Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks



With two second to go, the Vikings called a time out before Edwardsville could take their turn to in-bound the ball. The effort by the Tigers failed, thanks to senior Grace Loberg snagging a last second steal, to secure Geneva with their first girls basketball state championship trophy.

Loberg and Hart, a junior guard, led the Vikings' to the title win with 17 and 11 points respectively. Loberg finished the final game of prep career with a game-high 4 steals and lead her team with 9 rebounds. Hart chipped in 5 rebounds and 3 steals in her 32 minutes on the floor.

Edwardsville captain Makenzie Silvey led her team with 17 points of her own and was hit three out of seven of her shots beyond the arc. She was the only Tiger shooter to sink treys out the team's 12 attempts. Junior Rachel Prenger capped the season with a double-double of elevens, both in scoring and boards.

Box Score:

GENEVA
Madeline Yelle 2-4, 0-0, 1-1, 2, 5; Grace Loberg 7-13, 0-0, 3-5, 9, 17; Brianna Borkowicz 1-3, 1-2, 0-0, 1, 3; Margaret Whitley 0-10, 0-4, 2-2, 1, 2; Stephanie Hart 4-9, 1-4, 2-3, 5, 11; Lindsay Blackmore 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0, 0; Madison Mallory 1-4, 0-3, 1-1, 3, 3; Emma Harkleroad 0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0, 0. Team: 15-44, 2-13, 9-12, 24, 41.

EDWARDSVILLE
Rachel Pranger 3-8, 0-0, 5-6, 11, 11; Myriah Haywood 1-2, 0-0, 0-0, 2, 2; Criste'on Waters 0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 3, 0; Makenzie Silvey 6-13, 3-7, 2-3, 5, 17; Kate Martin 2-12, 0-5, 0-0, 2, 4; Quierra Love 3-3, 0-0, 0-0, 3, 6; Jaylen Townsend 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 2, 0. Team: 15-19, 3-12, 7-9, 34, 40.




March 2, 2017

Would kind people please stand up


by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator


I'm missing people.

In recent years I have eulogized my wife's father's funeral as well as her mother's funeral this past January. This weekend I will do the funeral service for my mother-in-law from my first marriage. My first wife died in 2002.

My mother and father have passed on, along with all of my aunts and uncles, with the exception of one living aunt - Lucille. This reminds me that I hope to see her at the family reunion in May.

Recently my sister's daughter who lived beside my Kentucky home passed, after a lifelong battle with diabetes, at the age of 53.

One of my dear friends died a couple of years ago from cancer and another dear friend is apparently suffering from dementia and unable to communicate much anymore. I miss laughing with these guys. I keep trying to make new friends. However it seems like my old friends are dying off quicker than I can make new friends.

I miss my childhood pastor who used to brag on me and always had a good word. I missed an old paper editor who brought me into the fold and mentored my writing. Of course they are both dead now.

I miss my high school basketball coach who was a star player himself. He was so gifted at cussing us out at halftime and telling us everything we had done with the basketball except actually playing with it. He also knew how to extend a compliment, encourage and point out the good that he saw in others and me. I miss that guy.

When I go to my old home church the people I see now are a handful of people who are about my age. There is the exception of Mug and Ilene. They seemed like old people when I was a kid and the last time I was in church on a Wednesday night they were there in attendance. Ilene used to pick me up for church and Mug did some nice things for me as well. I hope I see them for a long, long time.

And then there is Miss Southard. I was her pastor fifteen years ago. My wife and I go to see her every couple of months. She is filled with vigor and personality. At the age of 95 she still drives, gardens and greets at church. She is independent and has lived in her home for the last fifty or so years. She is filled with gladness and kindness. She never misses a beat to embrace us. Love us and say good things to us both.

We were driving from Baltimore, Maryland to Charleston, West Virginia today and we were somewhat amazed by our drive. One guy made a point of pulling in front of us and slamming on his brakes. I guess we hadn't been driving fast enough in the fast lane for him but 76 mph was more than we should have been going. Another guy was coming up the exit ramp and I couldn't pull over to give him all the room he wanted so he just started honking and gave me the finger. This reminded me of my five mile stretch of highway that I drive a lot in Indiana where I get the finger a couple of times a week from our kind motorists in our beloved Hoosier state.

Sadly kindness is just not in vogue today it seems and I don't like it. I still can't believe that elected political people did not have the decency and human kindness to stand up for Caryn Owens, the widow of slain Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, at President Trump's address to Congress on February 28. Regardless of your politics and however you view Trump's reasoning, there should be respect for the Owens, his widow, and all those who serve and have served.

A lot of leadership people today are teaching us how to act and live. More and more it's all about trash talk, rude comments and crude behavior toward others. If we want kids across America to show some respect to each other and demonstrate kindness to others then it must be jump-started anew and afresh by the big people who are seen and heard throughout our country.

I miss a lot of people from days of old who have passed on. I am especially missing those who knew and understood kindness and how to treat others. So is most of America. I know there are millions of kind people still in America. They just need to stand up.

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Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of American Issues, Every American Has An Opinion and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.
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This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of PhotoNews Media. We welcome comments and views from our readers.


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March 1, 2017

Area baseball opening day just around the corner

We are 12 days away from opening day for the 2017 prep baseball season in central Illinois. It is fitting to create our first baseball post of the year featuring the St. Joseph-Ogden baseball team whose epic season led them to a second place finish in Class 2A. To kick off our season coverage we put 12 never before published photos from their state semifinal and championship game on Instagram earlier this week. Here's half of what you will find if you follow us @photonewswire over on Instagram.

St. Joseph-Ogden senior Dalton Parker went the seven inning distance strucking out 11 of the 31 batters he faced. He gave up 5 runs on 8 hits in the 12-5 victory propelling the Spartans to the title game a day later. Parker, now on the pitching staff with the Purdue Boilermakers, finished his senior season with an impressive 10-1 record backed by a 0.58 ERA in 68 1/3 innings on the mound. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)


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Senior Kohlten Johnson sits in quiet anguish after he and his St. Joseph-Ogden teammates felt the sting of a 7-6 loss to Reed Custer in their IHSA State Baseball Final championship game. Johnson, a senior who scored one of the six runs and was a three-sport athlete for the Spartans, led the team with 1 hit and a pair of rbi to help bring home the 2016 second place trophy. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)


Spartans' Mason Coon pumps his fist after scoring the first of 12 runs for St. Joseph-Ogden in their state semifinal game against Murphysboro. SJO won the contest 12-5 to reach the title game thanks in part to Coon, who scored 2 runs on 2 hits and chipped in an RBI​ in the victory. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)


A day later after the photo above, Mason Coon holds up the ball after making a sliding catch deep in left field during the 2016 Class 2A championship game against Reed Custer. The Spartans missed capturing the coveted state championship title by one run, falling 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh. Coon is expected to provide valuable leadership in the coming season to help the Spartans on a possible consecutive trip to the IHSA state finals this June. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)


Spartan pitcher Dalton Parker hugs catcher Eli Oltean after their semifinal win over Murphysboro at the IHSA 2A State Baseball Finals back in 2016. Parker pitched a complete 7 innings game striking 11 of the 31 batters he faced. Oltean, a three-sports athlete now a member of the Murray State football program, lead the team with 3 hits, 5 rbi and scored once in the 12-5 victory for SJO. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)


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Spartan seniors Ty Brown, Garrett Grimsley, Eli Oltean and Dalton Parker step forward to receive their team's second place trophy. St. Joseph-Ogden went down fighting in a memorable heartbreaking 7-6 seventh inning loss to Reed Custer. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)


There are even more photos available from the 2016 Spartan baseball season. Want to see them? We would be happy to search our image archive. Go here to request an archive search to see what photos we have in our collection available for personal and editorial use: Archive Search Request. Use the search request to see additional photos from each of the matches highlighted above if you can't find the images you are looking for in our online archive here.