Decatur Tribune Online


J. Thomas McNamara
Sports Editor

Decatur Tribune
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Check out McNamara's "Irish Stew" every week in the print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
Columns Are Printed With The Most Recent Displayed First

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Mac on Sports

Awesome Response--St. Teresa and Warrensburg-Latham's students drive to assist the Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas had a goal of 400 items to be donated.  And they more than doubled that as fans responded with 850 donated items and gave an additional $1,400 in cash.  Pictured here are a few of the students from the two schools, left to right, who just had carried various items to a classroom inside the school where all the goods were being stored until shipment--Mia Chiligiris, Charlie Blackburn, John Wilson, Lauryn Pugh, Riley Danner and Kaylee Funk.  They are standing in front of cases of bottled water that had been donated.  (Photo by J. Thomas McNamara)​  Story in Wednesday (Sept. 13) edition of the print Decatur Tribune.

Pairings for 48th Annual Team Soy Tourney Set
    We now know who will play whom and when at this year's 48th annual Team Soy Decatur Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament which has become a Decatur tradition.
    Along with the Ursula Beck USTA Pro Tennis Classic and the Decatur/Forsyth golf Classic, the Team Soy Decatur Thanksgiving tournament is among the Decatur treasures, thanks to the Becks and Charles Kuhle in the case of the tennis classic, Cyndi Deadrick-Wolfer of the Decatur-Forsyth Classic and Mel Roustio for the Team Soy Thanksgiving basketball tournament.  Of course, their successes are attributable to all their sponsors and the numerous volunteers it takes to run such events.
    Bolingbrook is this year's top-seed followed by two-seed Eisenhower, three-seed Champaign Central, four-seed Harvey Thornton, five-seed MacArthur, six-seed Springfield Southeast, seven-seed Peoria Central and eight-seed Mount Zion.  The coaches seeded the field.  Champaign Central is rejoining the tournament for one year before it hosts its own tournament the following year.
    So, Eisenhower opens play against Peoria Central Tuesday night Nov. 21st at 6 followed by Champaign Central against Springfield Southeast.  On Wednesday night, at 6 top-seed Bolingbrook meets Mount Zion followed by Harvey Thornton against MacArthur.
    Tuesday night's two winners collide at 6 Friday night with Wednesday night's two survivors following around 7:30.  The losers of Tuesday night's two games meet at 1 Friday afternoon in one of the two consolation bracket games with the Wednesday night's losers meeting at 2:30.
    And then on Saturday, the winners of Friday afternoon's two games meet at 2:30 with the others meeting at 1 o'clock.
    The third place Saturday night will find the two Friday night losers meeting followed by the title game at 7:30 featuring the two Friday night winners.  Bolingbrook is going after its third Team Soy tournament title and second consecutive after beating Eisenhower last November, 69-42.  Rob Brost's team also won the championship in 2008 when it defeated Southeast 73-71.  Bolingbrook also has finished second twice in 2013 and 2014.
    So, it has played in three of the last four years title games, 2013, 2014 and 2016 with MacArthur defeating Southeast in 2015 for the crown, 66-56.
    Bolingbrook is led by an electric trio of Division 1 guards--senior Kaleb Thornton and juniors Joseph Yesufu and Tyler Cochran.  
    Tim Finke, an Illinois recruit, who hasn't committed anywhere yet, leads Champaign Central, and MacArthur is led by the Brummett twins--Amir and Armon Brummett, who are going to play college football apparently instead of basketball, according to recent media reports.
    I will have more on this developing in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.


New Home For Big Blue Men's And
Women's Swimming Team


    Millikin Athletics and the Decatur Family YMCA have formed a new partnership resulting in a new home for the Big Blue men’s and women’s swimming team, the university announced Monday, Aug. 7th, which was after this newspaper's deadline for that week's edition.                  
    Starting this fall, the Millikin swimming program will utilize the state-of-the-art eight-lane facility to provide a quality training experience for the Big Blue swimmers. The YMCA is making adjustments to the facility and their aquatics activities to accommodate the needs of a college athletic training program. 
    Millikin University logos will be installed in key areas of the facility to welcome the swimmers and to celebrate the collaboration.
    Early this summer during a regular inspection, it was determined that extensive repairs would be required to continue operation of the Millikin’s McIntosh Swimming Pool.  After additional evaluation and review from outside experts, the University learned that it would take over $200,000 to make the needed repairs to keep its 45-year-old six-lane pool open. Based on the extent of the repairs, it was determined that the McIntosh Pool will close.
    “This decision was difficult given the rich history of the swimming in the facility, but it is the best move for the growing swimming program,” said Dr. Craig White, Millikin Director of Athletics.  “Millikin is committed to maintaining our current swimming program under Director of Swimming Molly Duesterhaus.  The eight-lane pool and the cooperation of the Decatur Family YMCA has provided us with a wonderful opportunity the Big Blue swimming program.”     
    “Although this will be a change in the training program for Millikin, the quality of the facility at the YMCA will allow for the continued success of our athletes,” said Millikin Director of Swimming Dr. Molly Duesterhaus.  “Training in a newer facility with wide and non-turbulent lanes and upgraded equipment will enhance the preparation of our swimmers to compete at the highest level in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) and at the NCAA Division III level. 
    "Millikin is pleased to work with new partners at the YMCA, who understood the need and opened their home to ensure the continued success of a long-standing program. The Decatur YMCA will be excellent partners in the next phase of Millikin Swimming," concluded the Millikin swimming director.
    “As we celebrate our 140th year serving Decatur, we are honored to have this opportunity to work with Millikin as it too has a long and storied history in our community,” said Matt Whitehead, CEO Decatur Family YMCA.  
    “We are very excited to be the home of The Millikin Big Blue Swim Team and look forward to playing a part in the continued success of the program.”   

Lovekamp Transfers to Concordia

    Nathan Lovekamp, who finished his Cerro Gordo basketball career with 1,385 points before graduating in 2015, is transferring to Concordia University in Mequon, Wi. where he will play for the Falcons.
    Lovekamp transfers from Millikin after two seasons of playing for the Big Blue and former coach Matt Nadelhoffer.
    New Big Blue coach, Mark Scherer, said Wednesday afternoon,"I would like to announce that Nathan Lovekamp has decided to leave the Big Blue men's basketball program and transfer from Millikin.  
    "Since coming to Millikin it has been my pleasure to get to know Nathan and I cannot say enough good things about him.  While we are disappointed, we will respect his decision.  
    "Although not desired on my part, I understand that some roster turnover is inevitable when there is a head coaching change at the collegiate level."  
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Gross New Warriors Head Coach

    Rich Gross is the new Decatur Christian boys basketball head coach, athletics director Justin Neufeld has announced.
    The new Warriors head coach is no stranger to Decatur and Macon County basketball as he served as one of St. Teresa's assistant coaches to head coach Tom Noonan when the Bulldogs made their runnerup finish in Class 2A basketball.
    "I learned so much from Coach Noonan," said Gross in our recent conversation after this newspaper was advised by AD Neufeld that he was DCS' new head coach.  "He was a great mentor."
    His coaching experience also includes serving six years as head coach as Bement's boys basketball head coach when he led the school to its first regional title in 71 years in 1993.
    "They want to win again," said Gross, whose son, Connor, is one of the all-time leading scorers in Bement and Cerro Gordo boys basketball. 
    "It depends on talent," said Gross when asked about his offensive and defensive philosophies.  "I like a fast pace style, but I adjust to my personnel and talent.  I know these kids want to win again, the administration wants to win again, these kids have been great so far in open gyms.
    "I want slow but steady improvement and I know we have a talented sophomore class," said Gross, whose passion for the game and getting the Warriors back winning games again was clear in our chat.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Henson to be Honored Dec. 16

    Lou Henson, the all-time winningest coach of both Illinois and New Mexico State basketball programs, will be honored Dec. 16 when the Illini face the Aggies in the United Center.
    Henson amassed a 423-224 record in 21 seasons with the Orange and Blue, highlighted by 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, a total of 15 postseason bids, and eleven 20-win seasons.  Henson's Illini won the 1984 Big Ten Championship and advanced to the Elite Eight.  His most successful season came with the Flyin' Illini, who won a then-school record 31 games and advanced to the 1989 NCAA Final Four.
    A 1955 graduate of New Mexico State, Henson coached 16 years between two stints at his alma mater, compiling a 289-152 mark.  He led New Mexico State to its lone Final Four appearance in 1970, and to a total of seven NCAA Tournaments and eight 20-win seasons overall.
    Over his entire 41-year career, Henson won 779 games; ranking 16th on the all-time NCAA wins list.  He is one of only four coaches in NCAA history to record 200-plus wins at two DI schools.  He also stands as one of just 14 coaches to lead two different teams to the Final Four. 
    Henson was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. His name adorns the courts in both Champaign and Las Cruces.
    Illinois and New Mexico State are under the direction of first-year head coaches.  Brad Underwood is now at the helm of an Illini squad that went 20-15 last season, advancing to the NIT Quarterfinal.  Chris Jans, meanwhile, takes over an Aggie team that participated in the NCAA Tournament after winning the WAC Tournament and compiling a 28-6 record.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.