Subscribe for 33¢ / day

Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

Streams of unconsciousness from the world of sports:

It’s supposed to be fun: I nearly fell out of my seat laughing last week when the Meridian girls basketball team faced Webber Township in the Class 1A sectional at Goreville.

Webber Township had never advanced to a girls sectional before. The Lady Trojans brought a loud and raucous student section to Goreville. During the first half, the students were seated behind the Meridian basket.

The first time a Meridian player attempted a free throw, the Webber Township student body jumped from their seats and screamed just as the ball was released. The Meridian player was startled and visibly flinched.

Meridian coach Jerry Johnson told his players to just to concentrate on the bucket, but the Webber outbust was unnerving simply from a spectator's point of view.

The students kept up the routine until Rakyah Jeter stepped to the line midway through the second quarter.

“She ought to pump fake them,” I thought to myself.

Jeter did just that. The students bit on the gambit, jumping from their seats and screaming. In the meantime, Jeter reset herself and nailed the free throw. Unfortunately, her teammates also fell for the fake and entered the lane, negating the free throw.

It was one of the most entertaining moments I witnessed all year.

Four-class folly: I’m not a proponent of the Illinois High School Association’s sectional complex system.

All the teams in a sectional are seeded and sent to various regional sites, based on seed rather than geography. The theory being it isn’t fair for the best teams to have to face each other early in the tournament.

As a result, some interesting travel results. (The situation is particularly bad in 4A. Fortunately, there are no 4A teams in the region.)

For instance, in Class 1A action, Christopher has to travel to Norris City for regional play when nearby Zeigler-Royalton is hosting a regional. In 2A, Harrisburg makes a significant road trip to Lawrenceville when there is a regional in Fairfield.

Area 3A teams were spared long road trips because regionals are being played in both Carbondale and Mount Vernon.

The IHSA’s expansion to four-classes is the root cause of crazy post-season travel.

This is probably the minority opinion, but let’s return to actual “regional” regionals and let the chips fall where they may.

For the record: The Saluki men’s basketball team needs one more victory to reach 20 wins.

For most programs – excepting North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, Louisville and a few others, 20 wins is the benchmark of a pretty good year.

Out of curiosity, I looked up how many Saluki teams had won 20 games. I was surprised to learn that to date, just 26 teams have reached 20 victories. That’s in more than a century of basketball. That figure looks a little better when you take into account there were 18 seasons in which the, in those days, Maroons, played less than 20 games.

I actually expected the number to be closer to a 50-50 split. Incidentally, 12 of those 20 win seasons have occurred since 1990.

LES WINKELER is the sports editor for The Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at, or call 618-351-5088 / On Twitter @LesWinkeler.


Load comments