BY JACK BULLOCK
Southern Illinois high school basketball fans from years ago might recall the school Cerro Gordo from the Broncos' back-to-back state finals appearances back in 1973 and 1974.

Although neither team brought home a trophy, they were very close to changing part of the history of the state tournament.

Cerro Gordo lost a double-overtime thriller, 77-72, to eventual 1974 Class A champs Lawrenceville.

That team ended up 28-3 that season, which matched the same record from the season before, which ended with a loss to St. Anne and future NBA great Jack Sikma.
Head coach Jack Blickensderfer, after going 74-13 in his first three seasons, left the program.

Coach Blickensderfer eventually won a state championship, leading Macon Meridian to a 63-53 title game win over Woodlawn in the 2009 1A state finals.

Unfortunately for Cerro Gordo, and now cooperative partner Bement, there hasn't been much postseason success for either school in boy's basketball.

Cerro Gordo hasn't won a regional title since the 1974 quarter-finalist and Bement has just a lone regional championship from 1993.

This club finished 11-21 a year ago and there are three starters back for head coach Brandon Willard to work with.

Two seniors left the program last season (Wes McDermith and Jake Hayes) but everyone else returns for the Broncos, who were eliminated by Heyworth in the regional last February.

The three returning starters with experience are 5-foot-10 senior point guard Thaddious Roberts.

“All things kind of run through him. He is a great passer and sees the floor really well. He brings the energy for our team and most of the time, when he is playing well, our team is playing well,” said Coach Willard. “I think that there is a lot of parody with our team this year. I think the hardest workers will emerge as the top players.”

Conner Moore, a 5-foot-11 shooting guard, along with JD Benson, a 5-foot-11 shooting guard, return.

All were part of the club last season and had a lot of minutes played.

Coach Willard has some other players vying for minutes as the season begins for the Broncos.

Jessee Quick, a 5-foot-10 junior, will be part of the early season minutes as will 6-foot-6 senior center John Watzalawick.

Quick and Watzalawick both earned letters last season.

Five juniors will all be looking for time on the floor.

Zach Rogers, a 6-foot junior, along with Luke Rogers, a 5-foot-8 junior point guard will help out in the backcourt.

Six-foot-two junior forward Luke Dobson, a 6-foot-3 junior forward Grayson Walters and 6-foot-3 junior forward Hunter Rinkcer will add to the team's bench.

Coach Willard also has a lot of help on the bench as his assistant coach is Kraig Rogers.

Rogers is a 30 year veteran of coaching at Bement.

OUTLOOK – Cerro Gordo-Bement are now a part of the new Lincoln Prairie Conference with nearly all of the teams that played in the old version of the Little Okaw Valley Conference. It helps to have a senior guard (Rogers) that is experienced. There is a lot of good competition in this league and the Broncos will need to be ready each night out.

N25-30 Cero Gordo Thanksgiving Tournament
Enrollment: 260 (1A)
N26 @ Greenview
Conference: Lincoln Prairie
D3 Buffalo Tri-City
Colors: Navy Blue/Orange
D6 @ Mt. Pulaski
Head Coach: Brandon Willard
D10-14 Macon County Tournament
2018-19 Won/Loss Record: 10-21
D17 Macon Meridian
State Tournament Result:
D20 @ Deland-Weldon
Lost to Heyworth, 64-44
D28 Decatur Christian
1A Farmer City-Blue Ridge Regional.
J3 Sullivan
a
J7 Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond
a
J10 Villa Grove/Heritage
a
J11 Tuscola
a
J14 @ Farmer City Blue Ridge
a
J17 Chrisman
a
J21 @ Sangamon County
a
J25-F1 LPC Tournament
a
F4 Okaw Valley
a
F7 @ Decatur LSA
a
F8 @ Urbana University High
a
F11 @ Tri-County
a
F14 Argenta-Oreana
a
F18 @ Arcola
a
F24-28 IHSA Regional TBD a