ARTHUR — When boys' basketball teams from Lovington and Arthur play one another Friday in Arthur, it could be the final time they meet this year. What is certain is that the underclassmen from the schools will no longer be rivals once the next school year begins.
Lovington's school will close and its students will attend Arthur. Rivals this week, teammates next school year.
Friday's game is the only scheduled meeting between the neighbors this season, but there could be two other games. The Little Okaw Valley tournament will take place next week, in Atwood, and Arthur and Lovington are in the same Class 1A regional, hosted by Okaw Valley.
State power heads to Danville
DANVILLE — There is no longer an open date on the Danville football schedule for Week 2. More good news: The Vikings will play at home.
The opponent, however, will be Class 7A power Chicago St. Rita, which has advanced at least as far as the state semifinals five of the past six years. The schools agreed to a two-year contract. The Aug. 31 game will be played at Whitesell Field.
Danville will travel to St. Rita in 2013.
The Vikings had an open date to fill due to Mattoon's departure from the Big 12 after this school year. St. Rita's second-week opponent last year was from Tennessee.
St. Rita ended a 10-3 season last November with a seven-point semifinal loss. The school won the 7A state title in 2006 and was the runner-up in 2007 and 2009. Danville advanced to the 6A semifinals in 2009 and 2010.
Saying goodbye to coaching
FITHIAN — After coaching basketball for 11 years at Oakwood, the past nine as the girls' head coach, Rick Bough will step aside at season's end. Two years ago, he resigned his teaching position at the school to accept a full-time teaching job at Danville Area Community College.
He found the dual demands too difficult to juggle and decided to resign from coaching effective at season's end.
"I'll miss it a lot," Bough said. "I love coaching and the opportunity to impact kids, but I have a lot of things going on and it's time to give someone else a chance."
In the history of the girls' program at Oakwood, Bough's tenure is second and he also ranks second in career wins. The leader is Mike Waters, with 268 wins in 15 years. Bough has 127 wins in addition to a streak of four successive 20-win seasons. The record (seven) belongs to Waters.
Bough's 2007 team upset top-seeded Bismarck-Henning in the Vermilion County tournament semifinals, and his 2009 team won a Class 1A regional title.
Since retiring from the sidelines, Waters has been officiating. Coincidentally, he has been assigned to work Bough's final game in the Vermilion County tournament, Friday's 5 p.m. fifth-place game between the Comets and Georgetown-Ridge Farm at Danville's Palmer Arena.
Coach on the run — again
DANVILLE — B.J. Luke has a coaching background in track and field, but it has been a while. The Danville athletic director coached track at his first two stops, Heyworth and Yorkville. He left Yorkville in 1983.
The veteran coach will return to the sport this year with the girls' program at Danville, replacing Wesley Brown, who retired last year.
There were no applicants to fill the position, so Luke stepped in. He will coach in conjunction with his brother, Steve, who is Danville's boys' track head coach.
Practice for the indoor season started Tuesday.
Rantoul junior near milestone
RANTOUL — Junior forward Hannah Wascher needs 16 points to reach 1,000 for her prep basketball career. The Eagles play at home Thursday against Eureka. The team's following game is Monday against Olympia.
Cobras sign All-Area pitcher
FARMER CITY — Senior pitcher Jordan Wheeler, from Blue Ridge, signed a letter of intent Monday to continue her softball career at Parkland College. Wheeler is a two-time All-Area selection who holds Blue Ridge records for career pitching wins (63), career strikeouts (665) and season home runs (13). As a junior, Wheeler led the area in wins (22) and ERA (1.24) while batting .452 and leading the area in runs scored (50). Her 13 home runs as a junior were second in the area.
Sabers' Comet picks Chicago
CHAMPAIGN — Senior Paul Comet, from St. Thomas More, signed a letter of intent Tuesday to continue his football career at the University of Chicago. Comet was an All-Sangamon Valley Conference back as a senior. Comet was the top rusher (1,006 yards) and scorer (66 points) on the Sabers' 5-5 team. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry and was second on the team in tackling with 104 stops.
Huge game for Eagles
BLOOMINGTON — If Rantoul's Eagles, who are receiving votes as one of the state's top Class 3A teams, hope to gain a share of the Corn Belt Conference title in boys' basketball, Friday's game at Normal University High is critical.
"That's the championship," Rantoul senior guard Jackson Carver said. "We need that one. If we can't get that, then we're probably not going to win the Corn Belt unless somebody else helps us out. Friday is going to be the game of our season."
When the teams played in December in Rantoul, U-High won 46-44.
Matt Daniels and Fred Kroner