Ham Co, Shelbyville host sectionals
Eight teams have a combined record of 199-57
MCLEANSBORO/SHELBYVILLE - If you are looking for IHSA boy's basketball name recognition, the Deep South sectionals have you covered in this season's 2A events at both McLeansboro Hamilton County and Shelbyville.

The ones who advanced with regional wins all have had success (some more than others) over the years in this tournament.

Of the eight teams in the two sectionals heading towards SIU, seven of the teams have made it to the finals while the other one has one supersectional appearance recently.

Of the seven, three have state championship trophies somewhere on the campus.

Among this talented octagon of clubs, there are five second place finishes, four third place finishes, and a fourth place ending.

This group also has something else in common; tough regular season schedules that prepared them to still be playing while others faltered.

The combined mark of the teams involved is 199-57 (.777 winning percentage) with all sporting 20+ win marks.

You want regional titles? This group has 147.

Sectional titles? There are 58.

Add to that 24 supersectional crowns and this is a tradition rich group of programs with kids anxious to add their names to the winning history.

2A Hamilton County Sectional

One of the teams, the Nashville Hornets, has hope for a return trip to Peoria after finishing second in 2018-19.

Coach Wayne Harre and his club won the 2A Red Bud Regional title on Friday night with a convincing 52-27 victory over Belleville Althoff Catholic.

Nashville jumped out to an early lead and closed the deal with a 19-4 fourth quarter to improve to 27-6 on the season.

Carson Parker, a 6-foot-5 senior guard/forward, paced the Hornets with 15 points in the title game win while sophomore Isaac Turner, a 6-foot-3 guard added 12.

Six-foot-five senior forward Terry Pelczynski hit a trio of 3-point shots for nine points.

Senior point guard Tristen Hercules added six points and Camden Ritzel tossed in eight.

All will need to continue to play at a high level this week at Hamilton County.

The Hornets losses this season were to 3A Marion, 3A Carbondale, 2A Fairfield and 2A conference rival Pinckneyville.

Nashville and the Panthers split a pair of league games this season, each winning on their own floor.

Coach Harre's club also split games with 2A Breese Mater Dei, with the Knights beating the Hornets on December 30th, 47-44 in the title game of the Mater Dei Holiday Tournament.

Nashville got revenge with a 41-39 title game victory at the Nashville Invitational Tournament on January 25th.

If there is another game between these two this season, it will come on March 10th at SIU Arena in the supersectional.

The other defeat on the regular season came to the team they will face in the semifinals at Hamilton County on Tuesday night.

The Benton Rangers topped the Hornets 28-26 in a slug-fest of a contest back on December 21 at Nashville.

Coach Ron Winemiller leads this crew into the sectional as they were dropped from 3A to 2A this school year.

Benton headed into Friday night's regional championship with the most boy's basketball regional titles of the teams remaining with 36.

The Rangers ended the Fairfield Mules season and added number 37 to the case with a 58-45 win at the 2A Carmi-White County Regional final.

Six-foot-four senior forward Carson Lewis provided the offensive thrust needed in the title game, throwing in 27 points in the win.

Reese Johnson, a 6-foot-2 junior, chipped in 15 in the victory.

Those two have been big game players for the Rangers this season.

Five-foot-ten senior guard Brad Hammond, 6-foot-1 junior Wyatt McClintock, 6-foot-5 junior Jacob Seidel, 5-foot-10 sophomore Reid Baumgarte and 5-foot-10 senior Blake Stewart all have produced this season.

The Rangers finished second at the Goreville Invitational Tournament early in the season; they won the consolation championship of the Duster Thomas “Hoop's Classic” in December and finished second at their own Benton Invitational Tournament, losing the final to Pinckneyville.

Along with the victory over Nashville, they also have wins over 2A Murphysboro and Massac County, both in their Ohio Division, and they are riding a nine-game win streak into the sectional.

At the 2A Vienna Regional, the Mt. Carmel Golden Aces rallied from a early deficit to eliminate Massac County and advance, 51-44, on Friday night.

Head coach Tyler Buss saw his club ride a real roller coaster of a season but the “Aces are wild” now having notched their fifth consecutive regional championship and their seventh since Coach Buss took the reigns of the program in 2011-12.

Six-foot junior guard Beau Stipp came up with a big effort on Friday night, leading Mt. Carmel with 20 points while 6-foot-6 junior center Kaleb Applebey added 15.

Senior guard Aden Gill tossed in eight points and freshman Gage Kennard finished with seven.

The Golden Aces, after trailing at the end of the first quarter 15-7, rallied for a 21-20 halftime lead.

They outscored the Patriots, 30-24 in the second half and canned 11-of-15 free throws in the final frame and 18-of-26 in the contest.

Applebey hit 9-of-12 from the line, 7-of-8 in the fourth quarter to protect the lead.

This season Mt. Carmel sits at 22-10 and at times things weren't going well.

However the Aces have won the games that mattered and are now two wins away from third supersectional appearances in four years.

The Murphysboro Red Devils are another of the teams that have benefited from the classification drop.

Coach Daryl Murphy's club played some tough teams this year and, like Mt. Carmel, had some “ups and downs.”

Six of their losses came in back-to-back fashion and they ended the regular season on a sour note as they fell into a three-way tie in the Ohio Division after losing at home to Benton, 54-44.

But the postseason is just that, a new season, and Murphysboro took advantage of the tough schedule and learned from their defeats to come up big with a 50-48 win over Pinckneyville to get to Hamilton County.

Seniors Dezmond Clark and Jamarr McZeke are starters for Coach Daryl Murphy along with sophomore Calvin Clemons.

Senior Jameirr Frazier is also a main cog in the Murphysboro wheel as is senior Saviere Myers.

Junior JaQuan Jackson is part of a very athletic and deep team.

Jackson led the Red Devils with 20 points in the win Friday night, Clark added 10 and McZeke nine.

But it was Clemons, who was held in check most of the night, who became the hero.

After a Pinckneyville score tied the game at 48-48 in the final seconds, Clemons drove the length of the floor and his lay in beat the buzzer to send the Red Devils to the sectional.

It was just his second basket of the game, with both coming in the final minutes.

2A Shelbyville Sectional.

The ABV 2A Preseason Top-Ten included a team labeled “the ABV sleeper” for the postseason.

That team that is still in the chase to get to Peoria is the Marshall Lions, who won their first regional title since 2009 on Friday night at the 2A Flora Regional.

Coach John Webber got his team going in the tournament after closing the regular season with three consecutive tough losses to quality teams.

Marshall topped Salem on Friday night, 57-43 behind 28 points from 5-foot-11 junior guard Daniel Tingley.

Six-foot-one senior Jaden Wallace added nine points in the win followed by 5-foot-10 senior guard Ethan Keown with eight.

Six-foot-seven senior Jesse Burdick, 6-foot-3 senior Ethan Harper and 6-foot senior Jacob Shaffner added four points each.

After winning their first 10 games of the season, including an 83-71 win over 2A Fairfield to win the Lawrence County Capital Classic, the Lions lost to Sullivan (IN.). in the first round of the Wabash First Financial Classic in Terre Haute (IN.).

A pair of losses to Casey-Westfield, one in regular season and another in the LIC tournament semifinals, along with three consecutive defeats to end the season against Sullivan (IN.) again, 2A Robinson and Indiana 2A power Linton-Stockton forced the Lions to regroup.

Two postseason wins later, Marshall heads to Shelbyville for a matchup with Alton Marquette on Tuesday night.

The Alton Marquette Explorers reached a sectional title game last winter and the supersectional at SIU in 2017.

Head coach Steve Medford has been a big reason for the renewed excitement in this program.

After jumping back and forth between 2A and 3A because of the success factor, AM is a 2A regional champ for second straight season.

The Explorers took care of Roxana on the Shells' own floor to nab the 2A Roxana Regional championship.

Six-foot junior guard Spencer Cox netted 20 points to lead all scorers in the 35-25 defensive game on Friday night.

Six-foot-two Brett Terry, a guard/forward, and 5-foot-8 guard Iggy McGee are both juniors and they scored eight and seven points respectively.

Also 5-foot-8 sophomore guard Cortez Harris and senior Jaxson Hendricks are also players to watch this week as Alton Marquette plays Marshall Tuesday night.

Alton Marquette is only allowing 36.2 points a game this season and have won 14 straight contests.

The Breese Mater Dei Knights have been state-ranked all season and ended the regular campaign on the top of the ABV 2A Rankings.

Head coach Ron Schadegg has his club at 27-5 after dismissing cross-town rival Breese Central, 61-53, to win the 2A Gillespie Regional.

It was the third win of the year over the Cougars.

Mater Dei has a resume that includes a mix of both Illinois and Missouri opponents.

They split games with Nashville for one of their defeats and they lost to St. Louis Lift for Life in the semifinals of the Metro-East Lutheran Thanksgiving “Tip-Off” back in November.

Three of the defeats this season came from Missouri teams Whitfield, O'Fallon Christian and Columbia Father Tolton.

Since losing to Nashville, 41-39 at the NIT, the Knights are on a 10-game victory streak.

Six-foot-four senior Caleb Zurliene has led this club in scoring at just over 16 a game while 5-foot-10 senior Jacob Schadegg (the coaches' son) adds nearly 15 a night.

Zurliene threw down 27 large in the win over Central on Friday night while Schadegg added 12.

Six-foot-five junior Mitchell Haake adds 10 points a night for the Knights.

Senior guards Grant Goebel and Zach Napovanice add to the point totals.

Mater Dei won their own holiday tournament and also have some key wins over 3A teams Mascoutah, Olney Richland County, Bethalto Civic Memorial and Marion along with a victory over 4A Granite City.

They also have a win on 1A regional winner Madison.

The Teutopolis Wooden Shoes are no strangers to the postseason and head coach Chet Reeder has his team in the sectional for the second straight season.

His club edged Pana, 59-58, to grab the 2A Paris Regional championship award on Friday night and a spot against Mater Dei on Wednesday night.

Six-foot-three junior Evan Wermert came up "super-sized" on Friday night, hitting for 27 points which included four 3-pointers.

Senior forward Brock Deters added 11 for the Wooden Shoes as the program carried home regional trophy number 34.

Mitch Hardiek, a 6-foot-3 senior, pitched in seven points.

Teutopolis played their usual tough schedule and the losses were of "high-grade."

Casey-Westfield, Woodlawn, Madison, Effingham St. Anthony (twice) and Central A&M were 1A losses; Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin is a 2A quality loss while 3A teams Carbondale, Effingham and Chicago Brooks all defeated T-Town.

But all of those losses are now “water under the bridge.”