The People's Tribune

District Action Starts On Saturday For Area Teams

It’s hard to believe, but the regular basketball season comes to a close this week and the postseason is set to start on Saturday, Feb. 16.
The People’s Tribune and TribCast will be following action at the Class 3 District 8 tournament at Montgomery County High School where Bowling Green teams will be competing, and Class 2 District 5 at Elsberry High School where Clopton, Louisiana, Silex and Van-Far teams will be competing.
Class 3 District 8
The Bowling Green Lady Cats will get things going in the opening round of the Class 3 District 8 tournament on Saturday, Feb. 16. The Lady Cats are seeded third and will face (6) Christian at 5 p.m., the final game of the day. If Bowling Green wins, they will advance to the semifinal on Tuesday, Feb. 19 where they will take on the winner of the (2) Hermann and (7) Wright City opening round game. The semifinal will be at 7:30 p.m.
If the Lady Cats win they will advance to the championship game which is slated for Friday, Feb. 22 at 5:30 p.m. Lutheran St. Charles is the top seed in the tournament and has an opening round bye.
Coach Craig Smith said he was not surprised by the seeding and noted the season has been a learning experience for everyone.
“I’m getting used to the girls who will be here for the next several years and will be building a stronger foundation for the future of the Lady Cats program. I could not have asked for more from the seniors, Gabi Deters and Caitlin Bilhartz. They have been asked to do a lot by leading this team on most nights. I couldn’t be any more proud of how they have taken an active role in leaving their legacy on the younger players. They have helped convey my thoughts and ideas in a way that the undrclassmen understand,” Smith remarked. “Coach Chinn has been a tremendous help with her basketball IQ and just being there for the girls when they are frustrated with the new concepts I am throwing at them. I believe everyone should be excited about Lady Cats basketball and the future. If we can get our female athletes to take an active role and get involved with all sports – softball, cross country, basketball, track, etc. – the sky is the limit. To help with that Coach Chinn and I will be evaluating the program as a whole and set a vision for the future.”
The Bowling Green boys will open postseason play on Monday, Feb. 18. They are also seeded third in the Class 3 District 8 tournament and will take on (6)
Winfield in the opening round at 7:30 p.m.
If they win, the Bobcats will face the winner of the (2) Hermann and (7) Wright City opening round game in the semifinal on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. The championship game is slated for Friday, Feb. 22 at 7:45 p.m.
Coach Brandon McCann said the season has gone as he had expected and was not surprised by the number three seed in the district tournament.
“We have a pretty good district with some private schools. It will be competitive and we have to play our best game every night of districts to win. Every team plays a different level during district time and so do we. It’s been a long season and districts is a time to see what kind of team you have and if they have been mentally tough all year leading into districts,” McCann explained. He added that the team lost some games during the regular season they should have won, but was pleased overall with the team’s performance. “They adjusted well to a new system and played every game with effort and determination.”
District games will be featured live and archived on TribCast – online at www.thepeoplestribune.com.

Class 2 District 5
Action in the Class 2 District 5 tournament will begin with the girl’s bracket on Saturday, Feb. 16. The Clopton Lady Hawks secured the top seed in the tournament and will square off with the (8) Louisiana Lady Bulldogs at 1:30 p.m.
The winning team will advance to the semifinal to take on the winner of the (4) Van-Far and (5) Mark Twain opening round game on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 5:30 p.m.
Clopton Coach Deaven Streed said she is happy with how the team has performed all season, noting the team has faced a number of tough teams, some on multiple occassions.
“We played a big school in Quincy High which was really good for us before Christmas. We competed with an athletic Elsberry team three times this year, each time having to adjust and be productive in different ways. We took a big loss to Bowling Green the second game of season which opened our eyes to how hard we need to be playing each night. The Clopton tournament allowed us to play a tough Monroe City team where we dug ourselves a nine-point deficit early in the third quarter only to pick up our defensive pressure to erase and go up by five points to begin the fourth,” Streed pointed out. “We battled through a few injuries and some younger kids were given opportunities to step up and show what they had and all of them did in big ways. We went to overtime with a Unity Mendon team out of Illinois who recently won their regional championship giving us some late game pressure experience.”
Streed added the season did what it was designed to do in preparing the Lady Hawks for the postseason.
“Although we are very happy with our current record and standings, we know that the end result is really the most important part. We have a pretty competitive district with teams like Van-Far, Mark Twain, Elsberry, and a very good Paris team. It will take grit and determination to survive and advance – as it should. We are a senior-led team so we are relying on their leadership and drive to help determine our success down the stretch. I’m very anxious to see how our girls perform and have very high expectations,” Streed concluded.
Louisiana Coach Derrick Branstetter pointed out the district is extremely top-heavy this year with Clopton and Paris as clear favorites and Elsberry playing well and may be a surprise winner.
“We knew there would be some struggles this year, considering we were replacing almost 80 percent of our offense from last season. While we’ve done some good things defensively, we’ve really struggled to score and you just aren’t going to win many games in the 20s,” Branstetter remarked. “As far as the future goes, it will all depend on how much commitment is made in the offseason. I told the girls last Spring that we lacked skill and desperately needed to get in the gym over the Summer, but frankly, there was very little participation in our Summer program. Basketball is a game of skill and our current skill level isn’t sufficient to be competitive at the high school level. Hopefully, our returning players will put in the offseason work going forward.”
The Van-Far Lady Indians are seeded fourth in the Class 2 District 5 tournament and will kick off the opening round against (5) Mark Twain on Saturday at noon (the first game of the day). The winner will take on either (1) Clopton or (8) Louisiana in the semifinal on Tuesday, Feb. 19 in the semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
Coach Kelly Borchert pointed out the team is very young this season and is led by two seniors so a lot has been asked of younger firls this year.
“At times we are doing some really great things that this program has never done and we are hoping that these things are firing on all cylinders going into districts.”
The Silex Lady Owls are seeded seventh in the Class 2 District 5 tournament and will take on (2) Paris in the opening round on Saturday at 3 p.m. If Silex wins, they will advance to face the winner of the (3) Elsberry and (6) New Haven opening round game in the semifinal on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.
The girl’s district championship game is slated to take place on Friday, Feb. 22 at 5:30 p.m.

The boy’s bracket will begin action in the Class 2 District 5 tournament on Monday, Feb. 18.
The returning district and state champion Van-Far Indians drew the top seed in the tournament and will take on (8) Louisiana in the opening round at 5 p.m.
The winning team will advance to see the victor of the (4) Mark Twain and (5) Paris opening round game in the semifinal on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m.
Coach Pat Connaway said the season has been another solid one for the Indians and that the team is starting to play some of their best basketball at just the right time.
“Going into tonight we are 16-6 overall and 7-1 in the EMO Conference,” Connaway explained. “Our first goal is to win the EMO and if we win both games this week we will get at least a share of the title. Our second goal is to win district. Our district is very tough this year and we’ll have to play excellent basketball if we want to have a shot to win it. We also need to get healthy. We have a couple kids fighting injuries and a couple battling illness right now. Elsberry, the host school, is the three-seed and anyone who faces them will have the task of trying to beat them on their home court which is very difficult to do. New Haven is a very solid club that we haven’t seen this year and they are the number two seed and a sleeper team sitting in the six spot is Clopton. Clopton is a young team that keeps getting better and will be a tough out in the tournament. There won’t be a lot of secrets when it comes to match-ups when you have six EMO Conference teams in this district.”
Connaway said the team is going to enter the tournament knowing the season could end on any given night, but will have the mindset of trying to play seven more games.
“We want to make a valiant effort to defend our Class 2 title and we are going to rely on our big game experience to help guide us through the tough ball games. The winner of our district will more than likely face an undefeated Milan team in the Sectional game at Hannibal and the winner of that game very well could be headed to Springfield.”
Louisiana Coach Matt Smith pointed out that starting the district against Van-Far is tough as they have played them three times already this season and have been handled each time.
“I do believe over the course of the three games that we have improved. Van Far has the experience and size to beat anyone so they will be looking to repeat. The season overall has been a struggle, but I’m happy with the improvements. I think this upcoming summer will be huge in order to get the team competing back where we have been accustomed. I’m extremely excited about the future, but I know it’s going to take a lot of work from our athletes.”
The Clopton Hawks are seeded sixth in the Class 2 District 5 tournament and will face the host school (3) Elsberry in the opening round at 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb.18. If Clopton wins they will take on the winner of the opening round game between (2) New Haven and (7) Silex in the semifinal on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.
Coach Tony Francis said the team is excited for postseason play but they are aware that facing a host school will be a challenge in and of itself.
“Our goal throughout this last week of the regular season is to continue to find that confidence level found in championship teams. Wins in the post-season favors those players/teams who are tough in adversity and have the confidence to out-hustle their mistakes. You have to be fundamentally sound with the ball, control the boards, and find ways to get points at the free-throw line.”
Francis added that while the win column for the regular season may not show it, the team has made great strides in areas the average fan can’t see.
“The laying of a foundation is difficult and is far from glamorous. These men have showed up everyday and have been willing to accept the many challenges I have thrown at them. Regardless what happens the remainder of this season, I am proud of their ‘buy-in’ to this new culture and am excited to see them reap the rewards of their hard-work in the years to come,” Francis concluded.
The Silex Owls are seeded seventh in the Class 2 District 5 tournament and will take on (2) New Haven in the opening round on Monday at 6:30 p.m. If the Owls win they will face the winner of the (3) Elsberry and (6) Clopton opening round game in the semifinal on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.
Coach Aaron Henke pointed out the team has improved a lot over the course of the season and has had some success.
“The boys have worked very hard and given everything they have each day. The future of the program is looking up as we will return five juniors next year and a few more underclassman to continue and build from. We are preparing to play a good New Haven team that plays very hard. We have made some adjustments as we go into the post-season that will hopefully put us over the top.”
The boy’s championship game is slated to take lace on Friday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.
District games will be featured live and archived on TribCast.

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