Effingham and Teutopolis are the favorites in the Charleston Holiday Tournament, which begin today.
Coaches of the six-team Charleston Holiday Tournament round-robin tournament, overwhelming favor defending champ T-town.
With two members from the All-Tournament Team returning from last year, the Wooden Shoes will begin their quest in defending their title with Effingham and Tri-County appearing to be the strongest contenders.
Teutopolis had four members on the All-Tournament Team last season in Kaitlyn Schumacher, Kaylee Niebrugge, Emily Konkel, and Isabella Hardiek. The Wooden Shoes swept the round-robin tournament with a 3-0 record last year but the team will need to win five games now now that Danville and Jacksonville increase the number of teams to six.
Seniors Niebrugge and Konkel will be leading the way for the 8-2 Wooden Shoes. The team’s two losses are a 31-28 tournament loss to Highland and a 43-27 loss to unbeaten and state-ranked Paris (13-0).
“Until someone beats last year’s winner, they are the favorite,” said Effingham coach Jeff Schafer. “We have been fortunate over the years and have a lot of success in this tournament and we look forward to competing this year.”
One note to keep an eye on is that Schafer could take over as the all-time leading wins leader at Effingham with his next victory. With 458 career coaching wins at Effingham, he will overtake former boys coach James Maxedon as the all-time winner with the team’s first win at the Holiday Tournament.
Effingham enters the tournament 9-3 and with a 3-2 mark in the Apollo Conference. The Heats were 1-2 last year and earned third place in the tournament. Meredith Schaefer, Sawyer Althoff, and Ella Niebrugg were named to the All-Tournament Team last year. Niebrugge is the only returning member from the All-Tournament Team.
With that said, Madison Mapes and Marissa Allie are returning starters, while sophomores Bria Beals and Saige Althoff, as well as junior Olivia Moser, have been the team’s top contributors. The Hearts are playing without a key starter from the beginning of the season Sidney Donaldson, who is out for the tourney with a knee injury.
“We never know who is going to lead us in scoring,” said Schafer. “This group has been a pleasure as they get along well and play for each other.”
Tri-County was the runner-up last season and had the tournament MVP in Bella Dudley, who is playing collegiate basketball at Millikin. The team is 10-4 on the season and opened up conference play 2-0. Thaylee Barry, Kaylin Williams, Josie Armstrong, and Kenzie Hales make up the returning contributors from last season.
Armstrong leads the team in scoring with 18.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Barry adds 11.4 points and 2.6 steals. Williams brings an impressive stat line of 9.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.5 steals per game and is the team’s lone All-Tournament selection back.
“We have had a good start to our season,” said Morrisey. “Still working to find the best combination of players.”
Morrisey believes that T-Town is the favorite to win the tournament, as does Shani Iberg of Charleston. The Trojans were 0-3 last season to round up the standings.
The Trojans will be batting for wins this year as the team’s leading scorer Ally Logsdon, 9.6 points and 4.5 rebounds, is out for the year with an injury.
The Trojans will be relying on 10 freshmen, two sophomores, and two juniors at the tournament. Freshman Maggie Englum leads the team with 5.8 points.
“Injuries have been heavy this year with a couple of juniors and a sophomore with tear injuries that were season-ending,” said Iberg. “We are very young this year.”
Charleston is 1-10 on the season, their lone win coming over Danville 46-40 and are 0-5 in the Apollo Conference.
“We have faced some tough competition this season,” said Iberg. “Our young athletes have been learning and growing, every day. It makes me excited for the coming years. Tri-County has been having a good season. I am excited to play them, as I have coached the Shiloh girls before coming here. Effingham and T-Town also have strong teams. There will be some good games to watch.”
Danville, which used to participate in the this tournament in years past, are 0-7 on the year and 0-3 in the Big 12 Conference.
Danville brings back five players from last year’s team but lost its leading scorer at the beginning of the season.
“We are growing and developing into a very competitive team,” said coach Glennie Watson. “Teutopolis is more than likely favored to win the tournament.”
Jacksonville is a true newcomer as the team has never played in the tournament before. The team brought back four starters from last year’s team Brooke Brannan, Tate Morrisey, Cierra Goins, and Ella Wilson. Jacksonville is 3-10 on the season and owns a 2-4 mark in the Central State Eight.
“We started the season off pretty rough, we were dealing with a lot of players being out and missing due to sickness but were able to get all our games in and remain competitive,” said coach Brandon Radford. “Things have been better as of late, we still aren’t where we would like to be and where I think we can be playing but we are moving in the right direction. This will be our first year playing in the tournament. It looks like a nice field of teams and with where things sit right now I would say Teutopolis or Effingham would be near the tops of teams favored to win.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Emily Konkel (Teutopolis) – One of the leaders from last year’s championship team, Konkel could make a run at Tournament MVP this season. Konkel is a Division I softball recruit and has signed with Eastern Illinois University.
Kaylee Niebrugge (Teutopolis) – Niebrugge was an AP Honorable-Mention selection for basketball last year. Niebrugge recently helped Teutopolis defeat St. Anthony for the 29th consecutive time with 22 points. Niebrugge is averring 19.0 points per game this season.
Ella Niebrugge (Effingham) – A returning three-year starter and All-Tournament team, she is challenged by Madison Mapes as the team’s best overall player.
Madison Mapes (Effingham) – Maps led the team in 3-point field goals with 68 last year. Along with Niebrugge, she is a multi-year starter.
Josie Armstrong (Tri-County) – Armstrong brings one of the best lines to Charleston with 18.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game.
Kaylin Williams (Tri-County) – Williams is averaging 4.5 steals per game and is a returning All-Tournament pick.
Thaylee Barry (Tri-County) – A younger sibling of Lake Land College standouts Harley Barry and Tayler Barry. Harley Barry was the Finals MVP in the championship game when Lake Land won the national championship. Assuming the same athleticism is there, she should be one to watch.