Cerro Gordo, Oakwood program close in on 1,000th win
Boys' basketball teams from Cerro Gordo and Oakwood are pursuing the same goal, and it's one which each high school could achieve.
The schools are within reach of winning the 1,000th game in their history.
Oakwood (3-4) has 983 all-time victories. Cerro Gordo (5-2) shows 982 triumphs.
"Myself and a couple of players methodically went through newspaper archives from the 1920s and 1930s and looked through yearbooks," said Cerro Gordo coach Scott Bacon, who coordinated the research through the 79 years the school has played basketball.
When he realized that the Broncos entered the season needing 23 wins to achieve the milestone, he shared the news with his players.
"The boys got fired up to know it was a number that was attainable," said Bacon, whose team is picked as the favorite in the Little Okaw Valley Conference. "Our kids are working real hard, and we feel like we can do it."
Oakwood's program is in its 91st year of existence.
When coach Jesse Johnson told the team, he said, "they were shocked that they might be a part of it."
Though the long-term goal is nice, Johnson is trying to make certain the Comets keep each game in focus.
"We can't look too far ahead," he said, "but if they play to their potential, we can be right up there."
From Blue Devil
It's 610 miles from Durham, N.C., to Farmer City, but that's the path Matt Saternus traveled en route to becoming the Blue Ridge basketball coach.
His resume includes four years as a basketball manager at Duke before he graduated in 2006 and a coaching stint last year at Normal Parkside.
"My wife is in grad school at ISU," Saternus said.
He recently received a note from Mike Krzyzewski congratulating him for his first win – which came in his first game – a 70-50 victory against Tri-Point on Nov. 19.
Getting his system implemented is a time-consuming process for Saternus, whose team has a 2-6 record.
"They've been largely a zone team in the past, and I prefer to play man-to-man," the Arlington Heights native said. "A lot of these kids grew up playing zone and to just be learning man principles as a junior and senior is difficult.
"We've played some zone, more than I would have expected. The freshmen now will have three years of man under their belts by the time they're seniors."
St. Joseph-Ogden has the area's longest streak of active 20-win seasons. The Spartans' four-year run coincides with the four-year tenure of coach Brian Brooks.
Champaign Central and Salt Fork each have had three successive 20-win seasons.
The current senior classes with the most varsity victories, entering this season, are SJ-O (69), CPCI (68), Bismarck-Henning (67), Champaign Central (66) and Salt Fork (66).
Looking back at the past six seasons, CPCI and Tuscola each have won 135 games, followed by B-H with 128.
Coaches on the move
Two successful elementary school head coaches have taken over high school varsity programs this season.
At Salt Fork, Aaron Hird is in charge of the Storm after guiding Catlin Junior High (25-0) to the Class 8A state title last season.
At St. Thomas More, Todd Anderson will try to seek the success he enjoyed at Champaign Franklin Middle School, where he was 140-48 in six years. He was responsible for putting together the school's 2004 state championship eighth-grade squad.
A Champaign fireman, Anderson's work schedule (24 hours on, 48 hours off) necessitates "a unique practice schedule that the players are starting to get used to," he said.
On days his shift starts at 7 a.m., the Sabers start practice at 6 a.m. so he can attend the majority of the workout.
"The varsity is still getting used to my style of coaching and I'm still getting used to them as players," said Anderson, who guided St. Thomas More's freshman team to a 14-4 record last winter.
The current JV team is undefeated. Anderson's varsity squad is 4-5.
Hird, a former Armstrong-Potomac athlete, was 79-12 the past two years with Catlin's seventh- and eighth-grade teams. One of those players, Joel Learnard, is getting significant varsity minutes this season as a freshman.
"We have a good group of seniors, and we'll go as far as they can take us," Hird said. "If we can become a team that establishes ourselves as a defensive-minded team, we'll be tough to play against.
"We have some guys that are very gifted on the offensive end. Once we start playing on both ends of the floor, I like our chances each night."
Salt Fork is 6-2.
Watseka honors Baldwin
Former Watseka coach Keith Baldwin will be the school's first inductee on the Wall of Fame. He will receive the inaugural Inspiration Award.
The ceremony will take place Saturday, prior to the Warriors' 7:30 p.m. game in the Watseka Tournament against Hoopeston Area.
Baldwin coached the Warriors from 1971 to '91, compiling a 373-181 record. His Watseka teams won 13 regional and six sectional titles. His 1975 squad placed third in the Class 1A state tournament.
Baldwin, who resides in the Chicago area, also coached at Ridge Farm and Rossville-Alvin. He is in the IBCA Hall of Fame.
A family affair
"There is no looking ahead," first-year Armstrong-Potomac coach Brian Russell said.
However, the temptation is there.
On Feb. 5, his team plays at home against a Georgetown-Ridge Farm team coached by his brother, Brad. It likely will be their first meeting at the varsity level.
Pairings for the Vermilion County tournament, scheduled for Jan. 12-19, have not yet been established.
"The good thing is, both schools are purple, so my dad (Jim) can wear a purple shirt," Brian Russell said.
The schools will not play in the postseason. Once tournament play starts, G-RF will be in the Class 2A field and A-P will be among the Class 1A participants.
Several area athletes have reached – or are closing in on – career milestones.
Danville First Baptist's Matt Wells and Oakwood's Justin Jones scored their 1,000th points in their season openers.
Wells' current total is 1,134 points. Jones, who is on pace to finish as one of the Comets' top three scorers of all time, has 1,095 points.
Cerro Gordo junior Drew Minton could reach the 1,000-point mark in Friday's home game against Lovington. He has 970 points.
Last Friday, Minton shattered a 34-year-old school record, handing out 16 assists against Central A&M. The previous single-game mark (15) was set by Jim Neff.
Chrisman's Jordan Kindred needs 62 more points to reach 1,000. He is already among the school's top five three-point shooters, with a current total of 141.
Bismarck-Henning's Trey McCorkle needs 20 points to become his school's third 1,000-point scorer. He needs 105 rebounds to shatter the school's career record.
One teammate already has gained a record. With 22 steals through seven games, David Ingram has 128 in his career, sending him past the previous record-holder (Eric Nesbitt, 113).
Urbana University High's Mike Renner has 1,170 points and needs 202 to eclipse the school record total set by his brother, Alex.
Fisher's Mitch Elkins is 267 points away from the 1,000 marker.
Coaches chase marks
Among boys' coaches who could earn milestone victories this season are Arthur's Dale Schuring, Bismarck-Henning's Mike Reynolds and Centennial's Tim Lavin.
Schuring's combined record coaching girls' and boys' teams is 195-138. Reynolds' five-year mark at B-H is 95-36 entering Friday's game against Seeger, Ind. Lavin's six-year record at Centennial is 93-79.
An experienced rookie
Officially, Prairie Central's Tim McGuire is a first-year boys' basketball varsity coach.
However, in 30 years of teaching and coaching (the past 20 at PC), he's coached more than 1,000 winners. His varsity baseball teams are 409-184, his junior high baseball teams are 278-100 and his basketball record, primarily with junior high boys, is 332-131.
"I'm 51 years old and feel like a rookie," McGuire said.
He coached basketball one year in the past six, but said, "I had an itch to get back."
His Hawks are 2-4. Prairie Central returns three lettermen, but no starters, from last season.
McGuire was a varsity assistant the year the school placed third in the Class 1A state tournament (1989), but said, "I love working the fundamentals and thought I could do more good" at the junior high level.
Watseka's Jake Hasselbring, who missed all but eight minutes last season with an ACL injury, is off to a strong start as a senior. He has a team-best 14.8 scoring average. ... Unity's Creighton Pierce, who missed all of last season with an ACL injury, will be sidelined for all of his senior year with another ACL injury. He was hurt during football. ...Monticello's Brent Rhodes didn't play basketball as a junior to concentrate on running. He placed 14th at the state cross-country meet in November and has returned to basketball. He has a 7.5 scoring average. ... Off-court problems will prevent 2007 All-Area player Trever Drake of Monticello from playing basketball this season. ... First Baptist returns all five starters from last season's IACS Division II state championship team, including potential valedictorian Matt Wells and potential salutatorian Jared Greer. ... Tuscola's Brad Hornaday is the school's freshman basketball coach. His older brother, Ryan, is an assistant coach for the Warriors' girls' basketball team. ... Tri-County returns seven of its top eight from last season, including six athletes who had starting experience.