Friday, February 09, 2007


There seem to be a couple of rather hot issues regarding local high schools’ athletic programs. The first has to do with St. Charles West’s boys basketball program. It seems some took offense to the recent one-sided West victory over Timberline. On a local high school chat site, the following was posted:

“Some of you may have seen the SCW/Timerland game last night. If you did, am I the only one that came away with a sour taste in my mouth in the manner in which the SCW coach managed that game.”

The individual took offense to (a) West coming out of the starting gate and scoring 30 points in the first quarter and (b) Kramer Soderburg taking “almost every shot.” If I may be so professional: HOG WASH!

The coach the writer is referring to is Terry Hollander; Coach Hollander is without a doubt one of the classiest, most professional coaches I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. What Coach Hollander is doing is preparing his Warriors to compete in what is arguably the toughest district in the entire state – possibly in any class. He would be doing his players an injustice if he gave them a “night off” because of facing a weaker opponent.
I’ve watched a Hollander practice in past seasons – it’s nothing less than a basketball clinic. The conditioning and skill building are ever present.

The blogger continued:

“Timberland ran out 3 sophomores in their starting lineup, obviously a younger team. SCW jumped all over them early to the tone of 30-4 in the first quarter. Even with this lead, SCW remained in a full court press and Soderberg was the only shooter every time down the court.”

Wow. Talk about exposing one’s ignorance. Please remember for 6 years I served as the a.d. at beautiful Jennings High School. During that time period I suspect I attended over 100 games per season (freshman, j.v. and varsity – boys and girls) and found there are a couple of unwritten rules in basketball. 1. Starters pretty much play the entire first quarter. An exception might be if the 1st player off the bench checked in at, shall we say the 4:00 mark every game. Such is common. Coaches will tell their first team: “You had better play hard the first quarter, ‘cause that might be all you play.” Coach Hollander’s starters simply did as they do best. Period.

Another unwritten rule in basketball deals with players the likes of Kramer Soderberg (and Josh Harrelson of High and Zach Plackemeier of Duchesne). Presently Soderberg is averaging 26.6 points per game, Plackemeier 24.6 and Harrellson 19. The unwritten rule is, during a blowout, as was the case against Timberline, you allow your star player to “get his points.” In Soderberg’s case “his points” would be 27. Against Timberline he had 31. You really cannot expect Hollander to call time out the moment Soderberg scores his 27th point – you expect him to remove the kid the next time the play stops. I suspect that is precisely what happened against Timerland.

It seem that others are simply jealous of the success the Warriors are having. You don’t hear Coach Wacker complaining – oh, maybe because he has been around the sport long enough that he recognizes the unwritten rules of which I have spoken.

Another unwritten law of high school sports is that private schools recruit. From my perspective as someone who has been involved in high school sports for over 20 years allow me to offer my version of that unwritten law; “Private schools recruit more successfully than public schools.” There is not a high school coach, a.d. or official worth his or her weight that doesn’t know that undue influence is, and has been rampant for, at least, the past 30 years. Not all schools, at least not in all sports, are guilty – but more are than are not. Deal with it!

Unfortunately, some small out-state school are trying to deal with it by proposing separate state championships for public and private schools. On the spring’s Missouri State High School Activities Association’s ballot, just such a proposal will be voted on. If it passes I think you will see the rivalry of West vs. Duchesne and High vs. Duchesne fall to the side of the road. If the schools succeed in passing the issue, there would be (a) no reason for private schools to join MSHSAA, and (b) no reason for public and private schools to play each other. What a step in the wrong direction! Am I the only one here old enough to remember the mid-60’s when the Public High League Champion would play the Catholic Athletic Conference Champion in football for a mythical state title? While I’m at it, the biggest injustice is that, shall we say Orchard Farm’s vote counts the same as Howell North’s vote. Orchard Farm has under 500 students while North has over 2000.

In the St. Louis Region the private and public schools get along pretty well. West plays DeSmet annually in basketball – and heck, Duchesne plays in an all public school conference. Such is not the case statewide. Pay close attention to this topic, it very well could change the face of high school sports in Missouri.

Mike McMurran: 314.280.9189

Boys basketball
Class 4 District 7 hosted by St. Charles High
By: Mike McMurran
Sports Editor

St. Charles High first year athletic director Julie Williams had no way of knowing hosting her first district basketball tournament might be this large. “Of course it all depends upon who makes it to the finals, we know who is seeded where, but that means very little once the tournament begins,” she offered in a telephone interview. For the record the seeding is as follows: St. Charles West (20-3) was seeded 1st, followed by St. Charles (16-6), St. Francis Borgia (16-7), who just happens to be the defending Class 4 State Champions, Duchesne (10-11), St. Dominic (11-10) and Pacific (8-13).

First round action begins on Monday, February 19 with Duchesne and Dominic tipping off at 3 p.m., followed by Borgia and Pacific. The semifinals will be played on Tuesday with West taking on the winner of Duchesne and Dominic and St. Charles battling the Borgia/Pacific winner.

The St. Charles High gym has a capacity of 1800 – if West and High make it to he finals that number will be tested. “The title game will be played on Thursday evening at 7 p.m.,” Williams noted, “We will open the gates at 6. A lot was learned last from last year’s finals at Duchesne,” she said.

This year the boys and girls title games will be played on separate evenings, with the girls playing on Friday evening. “That allows more people to see the games,” Williams said. “This way we don’t have to clear the gym out after one game – which in itself is a logistical nightmare. This way moms and dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and aunts and uncles will get a chance to watch a district title game. Many districts have been doing it for some time,” she concluded.

Admission for all district contests is $4 per person.

St. Charles West Continue Scoring Beyond the Three-Point Line

By Louis J. Launer

It’s always a great feeling to be on top, even tied for top in the case of St. Charles West and St. Charles High School. Last week, St. Charles West had their scare as they faced Duchesne, now playing the role of spoiler in the GAC North Conference. The Pirates and the Warriors are tied for first in a fight to the finish. Although St. Charles West dominated the game last week against Duchesne, the Pioneers did come up with a rally—just enough to scare the Warriors.

That didn’t stop the Warriors “Raining 3s,” meaning their three-pointers that Brian Mauer, Kramer Soderberg and Jeff Ellis continue to do game after game. Although the Warriors led big at the half, the Duchesne Pioneers came back in the third quarter and cut the West lead down to 4 points with a minute and a half remaining.

A basketball team needs to stay focused, even when they are interrupted by the intermission. West remained focused and in the 4th quarter last week Soderberg and Maurer scored two three pointers and gave St. Charles West a 72-56 win over the Pioneers.

Even the fans of the Warriors and the St. Charles West Concert Band participate in the action. During the game last week, West fans and the band donned rain ponchos. Despite the fact that it wasn’t raining indoors, the rain gear is symbolic of the three point scores that their “raining” threesome continue to do for West as they try to get closer to earning a spot in the Missouri state tournament.

SODERBERG DOMINATES OVER TIMBERLAND. Kramer Soderberg scored 31 points in what became a one-man domination over Wentzville Timberland Tuesday night at St. Charles West. Brian Mauer had ten points and Jeff Ellis had 9. The Timberwolves were not a match for St. Charles West, who played on all cylinders. St. Charles West won, 72-40.