Welcome to today’s three thoughts and Vol. 228 of The Daily Dirt. Let’s celebrate the current high school basketball season and already start looking ahead to next year.
1. It’s been a banner high school basketball season in West-Central Illinois. And that, friends, is an understatement.
But next season could be better, possibly even epic.First, this season:
Quincy High School, with a roster full of underclassmen, plays for a Class 4A super-sectional boys title Monday night against Bolingbrook at Normal. One more win and the Blue Devils are in their first state tournament since 1998, and the future, as they say, is mighty, mighty bright.
Liberty and Southeastern meet one another in Monday’s Class 1A super-sectional at the Jacksonville Bowl. If Liberty advances to the state tournament, it will be its first trip to the final four four since 2016. If Southeastern is victorious, the Suns will be back at state for the first time in 30 years.An added storyline to the Liberty-Southeastern game surrounds Danny Stephens, the 6-foot-7 junior who is one of the elite players in the state. He’s averaging 28.7 points a game this season and 23.5 for his career. For Liberty, this week will mark the end of an era, one way or another. The Eagles have nine seniors on their roster, including all five starters. There will be no next year for this talented group. This week is going to bring a wide range of emotions for Logan Robbins, Breiton Klingele, Devin Klauser and the other Eagles who are making their last run at glory.
Quincy Notre Dame won its sixth state title over the weekend, and the fourth under coach Eric Orne. Nos. 7 and 5 could be real possibilities a year from now, but more about that in a few paragraphs.
Now, next season:
Quincy High will have a huge target on its back as it not only defends its Western Big 6 title, but deals with what will be sky-high expectations. Among the returnees will be the program’s all-time leading scorer as a freshman, Bradley Longcor. What a fun ride the Blue Devils could take their fans on in 2022-23.
Southeastern’s Stephens will enter his senior season with more than 1,600 career points and will likely end his career among the top 100 all-time scorers in state history. Making Stephens’ accomplishment(s) more extraordinary is that he has missed the equivalent of a full season — losing at least 15 games as a sophomore due to a pandemic-shortened schedule, and missing 16 games earlier this season due to a broken thumb.
And those QND girls? They will return four starters from their state championship team, including Abbey Schreacke, who poured through a Class 2A state tournament record 35 points during the Raiders’ 63-56 win over Winnebago. There’s a good chance next year’s Raiders could be even better than this season’s 30-3 state champs.
2. Here are some interesting thoughts from a variety of analysts concerning Russian President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine:
- “Russian President Vladimir Putin is a murderous dictator who has invaded a sovereign democracy in an effort to recreate the glory days of the USSR.” — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, Florida.
- ” … if you invade an innocent sovereign country, and you kill innocent men, women and children, you don’t deserve to live. That’s the bottom line.” — Sean Hannity, Fox News host.
- “(Putin losing support of the Russian people) could happen if many young Russian soldiers are killed in Ukraine and the Russian economy is wrecked.” — John B. Bellinger III, an adjunct senior fellow for international and national security law at the Council on Foreign Relations.
- “The possibility of a coup is a faint one, but not impossible.” — Ian Johnson, assistant professor of military history at the University of Notre Dame.
3. MLS (that’s Major League Soccer for the uninitiated) is about to move past the NHL into slot No. 4 when it comes to overall popularity of U.S. professional sports.
MLS crowds have been soaring in recent years, and in case you missed it, a crowd of 74,479 turned out Saturday night for the D.C. United at Charlotte FC matchup.Atlanta led the MLS in average attendance a year ago at more than 43,000. For the record, the most popular U.S. pro sports are football, baseball and basketball.
Steve Thought O’ The Day — Steve loves postseason high school basketball. “Especially the hospitality rooms for the media,” he said
Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. Saying “Putin” still makes him giggle.
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