Saturday, December 02, 2006


As much as I personally like high school football, it is somewhat difficult not to get excited about the upcoming high school basketball season here in beautiful Saint Charles City. All three schools located inside the City limits, West, High and Duchesne are receiving statewide media attention. Both Saint Charles public schools are ranked in the top-twenty of regional large schools (enrollment over 1000) while Duchesne sits at #4 in the small school poll. The sad thing about all of this is only one of three, and maybe not even one, will escape from the district tournament in February (see related article).

Each local team returns a bonafide superstar and candidate for all-state honors. Duchesne returns second-team All-Metro guard Zach Plackemeier, who as a junior averaged 23.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.1 steals per contest, hitting fifty-six 3-pointers while leading Duchesne to a 23-4 record and their first district title in decades. Plackemeier has already signed to play college ball at Indiana-Purdue University at Fort Wayne.

While Duchesne’s strength looks to be their outside shooting, the Pirates of Saint Charles High will be looking to the inside and their big man, literally speaking, Josh Harrellson. Josh, a Western Illinois signee, averaged 18.1 points, 11 boards and 3.4 blocks per game last season as he lead the Pirates to a 21 win season. The 6’8” senior center didn’t start playing basketball until junior high and has slowly, yet surely, turned into one of the dominant big men in the region. It will be interesting to see just how big his numbers will be this season.
While Harrellson didn’t start playing basketball until junior high, West’s Kramer Soderberg has been bouncing the ball since he learned how to walk. It certainly helps that Kramer’s dad is St. Louis University basketball coach Brad Soderberg, which explains his basketball savvy – but the tag of “Brad Soderberg’s son” is passé. Make no bones about it, Kramer can play the game like few others. In just his junior season he averaged 23 points, 4.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per contest as he led the Warriors to a 20-7 record and the GAC North title. Like Plackemeier, Soderberg hit 56 3-pointers, while nailing 162 free throws – most of which came in the 4th quarter.

As bad as the past football season was in Saint Charles, and it was one of the worst seasons in recent history, the basketball season looks to be one of the very brightest.

While on the subject of basketball, the very first FCN High School Athlete of the Week, Jeff Coffey, of St. Charles West, has walked on and made the roster of Soderberg’s Billikens. Coffey, a 6’3” guard, epitomizes what a dream and hard work can accomplish. Congratulations Jeff, you have made your family, your school and your entire community proud.

And lastly, I’ve received a number of inquiries as to whether or not I was serious about running for the Saint Charles City Council. Yes, I am as serious as I can be. Politics has been a passion of mine for many, many years. As a child I can remember pondering over election results for hours, looking for any type of voting pattern I could find. Prior to moving to beautiful Saint Charles, I was elected to the City Council, and ultimately the mayor of Country Club Hills, MO. This past week I picked up the packet from the City Clerk’s office and plan on submitting all the paper work on Monday, January 9th. While in City Hall I was approached by an anonymous individual who asked: “Hey, aren’t you that sports guy from the First Capitol News?” To which I responded, “Why yes I am. Thank you for recognizing me. By the way, which ward do you live in?” Spoken like a true candidate.

High School Basketball
Six Big Teams In – Only One Team Will Survive to go to State

By Louis J. Launer

It could be a massive train wreck in high school basketball when February rolls around.

This year’s Class 4 District 7 tournament, which will be hosted at St. Charles High School, has includes defending state champion St. Francis Borgia, Duchesne, St. Charles, St. Charles West, Pacific and St. Dominic. To many fans and experts along the way, this district could become home of a next state champion. Although there is a lot of championship-caliber talent in all of the schools mentioned, only one team will have to emerge out of this district to see any postseason action.

Many are predicting that Borgia could be that team. But others say that St. Charles West has fielded one of their best teams since their state championship in 1995. Kramer Soderberg (the son of St. Louis University head basketball coach Steve Soderberg) is leading the Warriors this year. Soderberg continues to average 20 points per game and is 40 percent from the free-throw line. Also for St. Charles West, watch for Brian Maurer and sophomore Alex Bazzell to help out Soderberg. Jeff Ellis, a 6’4½” forward can also pull some surprises. Ellis is a transfer from Sherman, Texas.

But don’t count out Duchesne, where their 23-4 season in 2005-06 turned some heads. They are just as potent as St. Charles West and Borgia. Senior Zack Plackemeier will lead Duchesne for a second year. Plackemeier signed a letter of intent to play at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Last season, he averaged 23.3 points a game as a junior. Guards Dan Friedel and Brandon Durk, who round out a Duchesne team, that match the might of St. Charles West and even St. Charles, will join Plackemeier.

St. Charles High School has a senior star in Josh Harrellson. Harrellson just signed a letter of intent to play at Western Illinois University. This year, he will concentrate on the Pirates as they try to get out of the shadows of St. Charles West and Duchesne, as well as St. Francis Borgia. Joining Harrellson with the Pirates is 6’10” Belgian exchange student Dean Dillen. Rudy Harper and guard K.J. Rufkahr round out the Pirates on their road to what has become a very intense basketball season.

ST. CHARLES WEST 74, ST. CHARLES 71 (OT) – You could not find a parking space anywhere on the St. Charles West campus the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. In their traditional Thanksgiving eve season opener for both schools, the Pirates dominated the first half, but made the fatal mistake of not finishing off the Warriors. They paid the price in overtime.

Soderberg led St. Charles West in setting up the scores. Soderberg had 21 points in the game. But Josh Harrellson had several good shots from the three-point circle. The game had to go into overtime and St. Charles West outlasted St. Charles High in the never-ending cross-town rivalry. The victory by St. Charles West and the close outcome is a sign that this will be one of the most exciting basketball seasons this year.