We never got to the final act of the prep basketball season, thanks to COVID-19 concerns that have shut down the sports world for nearly two weeks (and more to come).
But we can still give out the Buckys, our yearly awards to the best of the best during the season. The only requirement I have is that I’ve had to see you play (or ref) at least once. That might leave out a deserving candidate or two along the way, but my schedule was varied enough that I eyeballed every good player in both genders.
So without further delay, here we go:
Goreville 71, Moweaqua Central A&M 64. The Blackcats trailed by 10 midway through the second quarter on March 10 before hitting the Raiders with a 27-7 run that bridged the halves, building their own 10-point lead. Then they made a pile of key foul shots down the stretch to earn the win.
It sealed Goreville’s second Class 1A semifinal berth in three years. Although circumstances beyond their control prevented them from playing in Peoria, the Blackcats finished 35-2, the best record in school history.
All-Bucky Team, Boys
Brandon Anthony, Herrin; Jackson Connor, Marion; Trent Glidewell, Goreville; Blake McKay, Woodlawn; Dawson Yates, Pinckneyville.
Anthony nearly steered the Tigers to a regional title despite heavy graduation losses, while Connor became his school’s all-time scoring leader and led them to their second regional championship in three years.
Glidewell nearly averaged a double-double and gave the Blackcats another weapon inside to go along with leading scorer Landon Albright, as well as rim protection. McKay came within a missed layup of perhaps eliminating Goreville in a great sectional final, and Yates was the leader for a Panther team that lived up to expectations until losing at the buzzer to Murphysboro in a regional final.
All-Bucky Team, Girls
Alyssa Cole, Nashville; Abbey Crain, Carterville; Grace Lueke, Hamilton County; Lydia Miller, Harrisburg; Jeniah Thompson, Carterville.
Cole blossomed as a sophomore, leading the Hornettes in scoring and showcasing a versatile offensive game. Crain enjoyed her best year, helping the Lions reach the 2A semifinals and demonstrating logo range with her jumper while playing great on-ball defense.
Lueke teamed with fellow senior Kolby Brake to lead the Foxes to 26 wins despite the loss of three good players to graduation. Miller returned from a knee injury to average a double-double for the Bulldogs as they won another regional title, and Thompson excelled on both ends of the floor, earning first team All-Class 2A honors for Carterville.
Larry Barnett, Shane Bennett, Brent Garrison, Cory Hastings, Jay Miller. When these guys were on the floor, you know what you’re getting – a well-called game with good judgment and game awareness. Basketball is a tough game to call correctly, but these five make it look easy.
Best Pep Band
Marion and Carbondale tie for this award. Good pep bands add something to any basketball game, and although there are many good ones around here, the ones at these South Seven schools were the best I heard this winter.
Best Hospitality Room
Call this one a copout if you wish, but I’ve got to go with a tie between Marion and Goreville. High honorable mention goes to Hamilton County and Vienna. After all, there’s nothing more a sportswriter likes than a quick game and a good storyline than free food, right?
Carterville girls coach Matt Crain brought out the Air Jordans at the end of the Lions’ 57-55 win over Teutopolis on Feb. 24, getting some real air as he jumped for joy to celebrate the school’s first trip to the state tournament.
You, for making it to the end of this column. Hope we’re doing this again at this time next March.
Bucky Dent covers prep sports for the Southern Illinoisan and also votes on the Wooden Award. Contact him at 618-351-5086 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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