J. Thomas McNamara

     Prep boys basketball gets underway next week with tournaments for some and regular season games for others. The girls first games are this week, including the Maroa-Forsyth tournament. As football ends with the Thanksgiving Weekend state championship games in DeKalb in Northern Illinois University’s Huskie Stadium, five new coaches will begin stalking courtsides with their respective teams—Aaron Ennis at Maroa-Forsyth, Shannon Houser at Meridian, Dale Schuring at Mount Zion, Nick Viele at Sangamon Valley and Tim Yeakley at Decatur Christian. Ennis succeeds Blake Reynolds on the Trojans bench, Houser replaces Jay Driscoll courtside with the Hawks, Schuring takes over from Bryon Graven on the Braves bench, Viele follows Josh Myers as the Storm’s mentor and Yeakley moves in to the spot Richard Gross held at Decatur Christian.

     The returning coaches include the dean of them all, Vic Binkley of Warrensburg-Latham; Matt Hall of Argenta-Oreana, Rob Smith of Central A&M, Brandon Willard of Cerro Gordo/Bement, Rodney Walker of Decatur Eisenhower, Tom Saunches of Decatur LSA, Ron Ingram of MacArthur and Tom Noonan of Decatur St. Teresa. Binkley begins his 34th season as the Cardinals boys basketball head coach. Obviously, Central A&M is the team to beat with Rob Smith’s Raiders picked by many to win the Class 1A championship in March 2020 after placing third in 2019. He has his nucleus of Connor Heaton, Connor Hutchins, Griffin Andricks, Jacob Paradee and Brycen Burgener returning, who have been through the wars. Ross Sloan also will see playing time this season. The Raiders team fans see in December at the Macon County tournament will not be the one they watch in February. They have two 1,000 point scorers entering the season in Heaton (1725) and Andricks (1013). Paradee will join them sometime early this season in the Raiders 1,000 point club as he’s well over 900 coming into the 19-20 season. Heaton also will become the school’s all-time leading scorer sometime during the season.

     Here is that Central A&M 1,000 point scoring club where Heaton probably sometime this year will become the all-time leading scorer–*2039, Jim Dial, transferred there from Tower Hill after his freshman year; *1725, Connor Heaton; *1500, Tobias Bond; *1181, Stephen Gregory; *1170, Kevin Knight; *1106, Brent Weakly; *1088, Tim Canaday; *1053, Brad Coffman and 1013, Griffin Andricks after scoring seven in March 2019 third place win.

(MORE in this week’s “Irish Stew” on page 12 of the Decatur Tribune print and online editions.)

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