The Charleston Holiday Tournament is back after a one-year hiatus but will have a new look this year. Only five teams will be participating this year with Effingham, Teutopolis, Danville, Tri-County, and Charleston included in the round-robin tournament. The champion determined by the best overall record in a four-game format.
Here is the tournament preview.
Defending champion Paris decided to pull out of the tournament, which means that Teutopolis is the top returning finisher. Teutopolis finished second in 2019, losing to Paris 44-35. Tri-County head coach Joe Morrisey believes that the Wooden Shoes should be considered a top team going forward.
“Teutopolis and Effingham are both really good programs with good coaches who will have their teams ready to compete,” said Morrisey.
T-Town enters the tournament with a 6-3 record. Their wins include Newton, Salem, Centralia, Highland, St. Joseph-Ogdon, and Olney. Their losses are against tough teams such as Carterville, as well as a 51-49 loss to Paris, and a 39-38 overtime loss to Pana.
“I would say T-Town is the favorite with Tri-County a close second,” said Effingham coach Jeff Schafer.
Tri-County enters the tournament with an 11-2 record and a 2-0 mark in the Lincoln Prairie Conference. Bella Dudley, a former All-Tournament selection in this tournament, leads the team in scoring with 18.4 points per game, while Kaylin Williams adds tenacious defense and 9.0 rebounds a game. Morrisey said that Josie Armstrong has been having a breakout season as a sophomore and is “getting better every game.”
“We have been improving every day, still working on replacing players from last season and having our players adapt to new roles,” said Morrisey. “Being a (Class) 1A school being able to compete against bigger schools that will help us improve to make us ready for the post season.”
Don’t Count Out Effingham
Earlier this month, Effingham was ranked No. 14 in the Class 3A voting and owns a 9-3 record entering the tournament. Their 2-3 mark in the Apollo Conference could be deceiving as all three losses, Mattoon, Mahomet-Seymour, and Lincoln are all losses to teams that are or formally have been state-ranked.
This all comes with the Hearts losing former All-Apollo First Team selection Annie Frost, who moved before the school year began. Meredith Schaefer, Sawyer Althoff, and Ella Niebrugge have led the Hearts offensively so far, while Schafer called the rest of the team balanced.
“We have five other players averaging between three and five points, so it just depends on who plays that night,” said Schafer. We are still finding our footing as we have not had our full strength lineup together for the past 4 weeks which has provided some opportunities, but also made it difficult for us. We are just looking to continue to get better each game as this will be the halfway point of the season.”
Looking For Improvement
Danville will be bringing their junior varsity squad to the tournament due to head coach Glen Watson testing positive for COVID-19. The varsity record is 2-9 overall and 0-2 in the Big 12 Conference. The team’s top scorers include senior Nautika Conaway and freshman Soriah Couard. Watson said that breakout players include senior Tharaija Rose, as well as Diamond Landfair and Amara McFarland.
“Being a first-year coach trying to establish a winning culture on and off the court,” said Watson. “I hope to see some growth from the JV team and learn how to compete at a high level.”
Charleston finished seventh the last time the team played in the tournament. Currently, the team is 0-7 and 0-5 in the Apollo, according to MaxPreps.
Tri-County vs. Danville – 2 p.m.
Charleston vs. Teutopolis – 4 p.m.
Effingham vs. Danville – 6 p.m.
Charleston vs Tri-County – 2 p.m.
Teutopolis vs. Danville – 4 p.m.
Tri-County vs. Effingham – 6 p.m.
Teutopolis vs. Effingham – Noon
Charleston vs. Danville – 2 p.m.
Teutopolis vs. Tri-County – 4 p.m.
Charleston vs. Effingham – 6 p.m.