Holiday Tournament begins Saturday
Hawks, Salukis, lead solid field at Wayne City

WAYNE CITY – The 65th annual Conrad Allen Wayne City Holiday Tournament has arrived.

Beginning on Saturday, December 8th eight teams in two pools of four will battle for a chance to take home the top trophy in one of the longest running boy's basketball events in the state's history.

Defending champion Webber Township returns to the event as does last year's runner up, the host Indians.

Both have different looks to their respective teams heading into the tournament and they are in opposite pools.

However invaders from the South and Northwest should have a major say in this week's outcome.

Gallatin County is highly regarded and is considered a favorite to win the top prize.

Head coach Jeff Hermann has a veteran group returning as the Hawks lost just a single starter from a 19-9 team a year ago.

Playing a tough opening of the season schedule Gallatin County has battled to a 6-2 record, including a 62-49 win over Pope County on Friday night, before heading north to Wayne City on Saturday.

Gallatin has wins over 2A teams Carmi-White County and Eldorado on the road and 1A wins over Cairo, Grayville, and Crab Orchard.

The two losses are to 2A Du Quoin and 3A Massac County at the Du Quoin “Tip-Off Classic.”

The Hawks are led by Audie Goebel, a 6-foot-1 senior, and 5-foot-11 senior Robbie Prince.

Two other starters from last season have played well this season; Garret Rushing, a 5-foot-10 senior and 5-foot-11 junior Dawson Hish.

All four are averaging double-figures in scoring for this balanced attack.

Goebel tops the list with 19.2 points a game while Prince, Rushing and Hish are all just over 11 points a night, making it very difficult to key on one player in this lineup.

One of the other schools involved in the championship conversation coming into the tournament is Bridgeport Red Hill.

The Salukis, considering the teams they have played, are sitting pretty good at 4-4.

The wins have come against 2A Mount Carmel along with victories over Cisne, Hutsonville/Palestine and 2A Lawrenceville.

The losses are to some heavy hitters, losing three games at the always tough Lawrence County Capital Classic the opening weekend.

After the Mount Carmel victory, Red Hill lost to 2A power Teutopolis, 2A Marshall and 3A Salem.

The Salukis lost Friday night on the road, 66-36 to 3A Olney Richland County.

Those Tigers are not only a tough Little Illini Conference rival but they are also the top-seed at the upcoming Pinckneyville “Duster Thomas Classic” in three weeks.

Coach Bryan Havill has a pair of “go-to” guys in his lineup with 5-foot-11 senior Drew Moore and Parker Havill, a 6-foot-1 senior, who is the coaches' son.

Both are popping in double-figures in scoring for the Salukis.

Moore paces the club with 17.6 points a night while Havill is at 13.7 p.p.g.

Conner McKinney nets 6.7 points a night while Drake Allen adds five-points a contest.

The tough gaunlet of games these “Dawgs” have played should have them well prepared for what they will face this week at Wayne City.

The host Wayne City Indians are heading into the tournament with a 6-1 mark with just a semifinal overtime loss to Christopher at the Bearcats' annual Thanksgiving “Turkey” Tournament the first week of the season.

Coach Jim Corona has his young team playing well with victories over Waltonville, Norris City-Omaha-Enfield, Cisne, Christ Our Rock Lutheran, Grayville and Ramsey.

Travis Dickey, 6-foot-1 junior, and 5-foot-9 freshman Taj McKinney are leading the way for the Indians this season.

Six-foot-two junior Marcus Durham and 5-foot-11 junior Andrew White are both contributors for Wayne City.

As a team they are shooting the ball well, hitting 53 percent from 2-point range and 44 percent from the 3-point arc.

Dickey leads the club from the arc as he has hit over half of his long range attempts.

North Clay is one of those teams in this event that shouldn't be overlooked.

Head coach Josh Zink, an alumni of the school in Clay County, has his Cardinals playing at a much higher level than last season.

North Clay picked up a big win last Saturday in defeating Odin, 60-54 at the Patoka Shootout.

These Cards also played ABV 1A top-ranked Woodlawn close for a half before falling 46-29 on the road in the season opener for both teams back on November 20.

Aleon Rinehart is a 5-foot-10 senior guard (7.1 p.p.g.) who helps lead the Cardinals.

Five-foot-ten senior Kaden Turner (8.2 p.p.g.) and 6-foot-2 senior Nick Miller (10.2 p.p.g.) are the ones who Coach Zink counts on.

Also part of the offensive numbers are Ethan Bible, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, along with 6-foot junior Tyson Jones (8.3 p.p.g.) and Luke Fleener (7.1 p.p.g.).

They are another of the teams that has more than one weapon in the holster.

Webber Township and head coach Brad Beaty are sitting at 2-5 heading into the tournament after a 1-2 week where they defeated Odin at home on Tuesday night, 48-46 a night after they lost a 54-47 decision to previously win-less Zeigler-Royalton.

Friday night they lost to ABV ranked Thompsonville, 49-36.

Kaiden Taylor, a 6-foot-4 junior forward, paces the Trojans with 18.3 points and eight rebounds a game for Webber Township.

Ayden Buchanan, a sophomore guard, adds 10.1 points per outing while junior Dalton Adcock is averaging 9.7 p.p.g.

Crab Orchard and head coach Jon Brown have been a fixture in this annual event and the Trojans come into this tournament with a record of 6-4.

Hunter Throgmorton, a 6-foot-1 junior, leads the Trojans with 19.1 points per outing while grabing 6.2 rebounds.

Six-foot sophomore Kegan Peek, a starter as a freshman last winter, has added 16.3 points and just over eight rebounds to the totals for Coach Brown.

Tony Lakotich is a 5-foot-10 sophomore (13.3 p.p.g.) is another of the young players that Crab Orchard has in the lineup.

The Trojans opened with a 3-2 mark at their own tournament, losing to Elverado and Pope County while defeating Dongola, Joppa and Egyptian.

Since then Crab Orchard has wins over Sandoval at the Patoka Shootout and a bit of revenge by beating Pope County in a rematch.

The other losses are to Gallatin County and Norris City-Omaha-Enfield as the Trojans sit at 6-4 after beating Galatia, 57-37 on the road Friday night.

Cisne and Grayville are off to slow starts.

However both picked up their first wins of the season on Friday night

Cisne (1-4) and head coach Kevin Bowen have losses to Red Hill, Dieterich, Fairfield and Wayne City.

Jessie Milner, a 5-footy-6 freshman for the Lions, along with sophomores 6-foot-3 Connor Brach and 5-foot-6 Jace Hatcher, have been the best of the Lions so far this season.

All, according to Coach Bowen, are in the 8-fo-10 points a game scoring average.

The Lions mauled Oblong at home, 69-42.

Grayville is 1-3 and their defeats have come at the hands of Gallatin County, Edwards County and Wayne City.

They picked up a win over Sandoval, 59-57 Friday night.

Six-foot-three sophomore Brayden Hatcher and 6-foot junior Cole Neeley lead the Bison with 20 and 10 points respectively in scoring.

Arnaud Pecheur is a 5-foot-10 senior guard who averages seven points a night.

He is a foreign exchange student from Belgium.