Blue Ridge Boys Basketball Wins Home Opener over Clinton

Updated November 30 at 12:25 p.m.

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- A few days after his 32-point performance in the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Thanksgiving Tournament, Michael Plunk picked up where he left off on his home floor.

He scored 21 points to lead Blue Ridge to a 59-42 win over Clinton.

As a team, the Knights had success on the offensive and defensive end. On the offensive end, Blue Ridge shot 23-of-43, a 53.5% field-goal percentage.

On the defensive end, the Knights held the Maroons to 14-of-50 shooting, a 28% field-goal percentage. After allowing 30 points in the first half, Blue Ridge yielded 12 points to Clinton in the second, including three in the third quarter.

Travys Nichols and Jon Jones each finished the game with double-digit points. Nichols had 11 points while Jones had 10 points.

Clint O'Neal and Josh Plunk finished with six points while Mark Plunk, returning from an injury that kept him out of the GCMS Thanksgiving Tournament, scored five points and recorded three assists.

O'Neal also led the Knights with eight rebounds.

For the Maroons, Matt Chandler was the leading scorer with eight points. Mitch Creager and Greg Osgood each contributed seven points.

Blue Ridge (2-3) will travel to Tremont on Friday for its Heart of Illinois Conference opener against the Turks.

Meanwhile, the junior varsity team picked up a victory, beating Clinton 53-43.

Blue Ridge 59, Clinton 42
Clinton (42)
Matt Chandler 2 4-4 8, Mitch Creager 3 0-1 7, Greg Osgood 2 2-2 7, Dylan Scott 2 1-2 5, Kaleb Shepherd 1 2-2 5, Jacob Rockhold 2 0-0 4, Marshall Sprague 1 1-2 4, Nick Thompson 1 0-0 2, Austin Devore 0 0-0 0, Jerrod Hurst 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 10-15 42
Blue Ridge (59)
Michael Plunk 6 5-6 21, Travys Nichols 5 1-3 11, Jon Jones 4 0-0 10, Clint O'Neal 3 0-0 6, Josh Plunk 3 0-0 6, Mark Plunk 2 1-2 5, Johnney Bruden 0 0-0 0, C.J. Bishop 0 0-0 0, Dylan Grammer 0 0-0 0, Trenor Hildreth 0 0-0 0, Matt White 0 0-0 0, Will Duggins 0 0-0 0, Daniel Gilbert 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 7-11 59
Clinton    11    19    3    9    -- 42
Blue Ridge    15    28    5    11    -- 59
3-pointers -- Clinton 4 (Chandler, Osgood, Shepherd, Sprague). Blue Ridge 6 (Mi. Plunk 4, Jones 2).
For Clinton, Rockhold had 6 rebounds. Chandler had 5 rebounds. Creager had 2 steals. Team was 14-of-50 shooting.
For Blue Ridge, O'Neal had 8 rebounds. Ma. Plunk had 3 assists. Team was 23-of-43 shooting.


Blue Ridge Girls Basketball Opens Conference Season with Loss in Ridgeview

Updated November 29 at 11:46 a.m.

COLFAX, Ill. -- Korrie Gilbert, Jacquelyn O'Neal, Melinda Wilson and Gabby Pearl each scored in double digits for the Lady Knights.

It was not enough, however, as the Mustangs took a 27-21 lead at halftime and held on from there for a 52-47 Heart of Illinois Conference victory over Blue Ridge.

"I think we did an awesome job," Blue Ridge coach Stephanie Schroeder said. "We could've very easily been beaten by a lot more, and we fought hard and we kept our heads up and did a lot of good things. We need to work on a few things, but overall, I think they played a really good game."

In the first half, Gilbert (pictured above) led the Lady Knights in scoring with eight points, including two 3-pointers, to keep her team in the game.

She finished the game with a team-high 13 points.

In the second half, Blue Ridge started with a 6-0 run that tied the game at 27-27 in the third quarter. They tied the game with an O'Neal basket that was assisted by Wilson.

O'Neal and Wilson scored 12 points each. O'Neal (pictured above) and Wilson scored eight and seven of their points in the second half, respectively.

O'Neal also grabbed 16 rebounds.

Megan Jones helped Ridgeview regain the lead at 30-27 with a 3-pointer. Then Pearl, who finished the game with 10 points, turned the Lady Knights' 30-28 deficit into a 32-30 lead with a couple of baskets in the third quarter.

However, Jones hit one of her four 3-pointers to give her team the lead at 33-32.

After Ridgeview gained a 42-32 lead in the fourth quarter, the Lady Knights went on an 8-2 run to cut the lead to 44-40. Gilbert and Wilson (pictured below) each hit a 3-pointer in that run.

The run ended when Jenna Ayers stole the ball from Gilbert and scored on a fastbreak layup with 3:49 left in the game.

"We picked up the intensity a little bit [in the second half]," Schroeder said. "We knew we could play with them; it was just that we couldn't hold onto that lead. They're a good shooting team. There's not a whole lot you can do with good shooting except try to get the rebounds and hope [the shots] don't go in."

With the loss, Blue Ridge falls to 3-4 overall and 0-1 in the HOIC. They will travel to Tremont for another conference showdown on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Lady Knights' junior varsity team lost 30-2. Miranda Gillis scored Blue Ridge's only basket.

Ridgeview 52, Blue Ridge 47
Blue Ridge (47)
Jeana Cheek 0 0-0 0, Jacquelyn O'Neal 6 0-1 12, Korrie Gilbert 5 0-0 13, Ashley Spicer 0 0-0 0, Melinda Wilson 4 1-2 12, Liz Cordes 0 0-0 0, Bailey Clancy 0 0-0 0, Gabby Pearl 5 0-0 10, Jamison Brandt 0 0-0 0, Breanna Watterson 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 1-3 47.
Ridgeview (52)
Rachel Bradd 1 0-0 2, Jenna Ayers 4 1-5 9, Hallie Johnson 4 0-1 8, Kelsie Cedeno 0 0-0 0, Kelli Richards 1 0-0 2, Ashley Benton 0 0-0 0, Lexi Stubblefield 0 0-0 0, Maddie Huff 0 0-0 0, Paige Jones 3 0-0 6, Megan Jones 6 3-4 19, Rachelle Weber 2 2-2 6, Mikayla Reynolds 0 0-0 0, Dani Washington 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 6-12 52.
Blue Ridge    9    12    11    15    -- 47
Ridgeview    15    12    10    15    -- 52
3-pointers -- Blue Ridge 6 (Gilbert 3, Wilson 3). Ridgeview 4 (M. Jones 4).
BLUE RIDGE GIRLS BKB UPDATE: The Lady Knights lost to Ridgeview 52-47.
BLUE RIDGE GIRLS BKB UPDATE: The Lady Knights trail Ridgeview 37-32 at the end of the third quarter.
BLUE RIDGE GIRLS BKB UPDATE: The Lady Knights are trailing Ridgeview 27-21 at halftime. JV lost 30-2.


Blue Ridge Boys Basketball Takes Seventh Place in GCMS Thanksgiving Tournament with Victory over Falcons

Updated November 28 at 11:59 a.m.

GIBSON CITY, Ill. -- With Mark Plunk out with an injury throughout the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Thanksgiving Tournament and three losses to start the season, the last two things Blue Ridge needed were another injured player and another loss.

Due to an ankle injury, however, Tucker Johnson (pictured above) was forced to spend most of the Knights' seventh-place game against the Falcons on the bench. Johnson would later be selected for the All-Tournament team.

Regardless of losing its leading scorer, Blue Ridge beat GCMS 73-65 thanks to a big scoring game from Michael Plunk and some solid post play from Clint O'Neal and company.

"I told the kids before the game there's a huge difference between 0-4 and 1-3," Blue Ridge coach Kyle Watson said. "[Going] 1-3 wasn't our goal when we came into this tournament, but obviously this morning, 1-3 was the best we could have done."

With the victory, the Knights got their first victory of the season after losing the first three games by a combined 70 points.

"That was a great test of character today without playing our game the first three games," Watson said. "I think we did play our game, more or less, tonight. I was very happy with how we responded today. Tucker going down with his ankle today gave some other guys a great opportunity to step up. That's a heck of an early-season test, and we finally passed this test. I was very proud of our kids' effort."

With Johnson out, Michael Plunk (pictured below) took over the scoring. He finished with 32 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter.

In the second quarter, Michael Plunk sank a 3-pointer before the halftime buzzer, giving Blue Ridge a 36-35 halftime lead. In the fourth quarter, his third 3-pointer of the game put the Knights ahead 64-63 with about two minutes left.

From there, Blue Ridge never trailed, scoring all of its next nine points via free throws. Michael Plunk finished the game converting on 13-of-16 free-throw attempts.

"Michael had a huge game for us," Watson said. "I know it's awfully hard with him being a sophomore, but I tell him it's almost as if he's playing like he's not a sophomore anymore. He definitely played like he wasn't a sophomore tonight. He played like he was a junior or senior. He's a tremendously gifted young man, he's a super young man in the classroom, and he'll be fun to coach over the next three years."

O'Neal (pictured below in black jersey) scored six of his 14 points via fourth-quarter free throws following Michael Plunk's go-ahead 3-pointer, including two that increased the Knights' lead to 66-63.

He also grabbed 10 rebounds to finish the game with a double-double.

Jon Jones helped Michael Plunk with the backcourt scoring, finishing the game with 11 points. After the Falcons' Jacob Jordan hit a jump shot to cut Blue Ridge's lead to 66-65, Jones hit two free throws to push the Knights' lead back to three points.

Josh Plunk came off the bench to complement O'Neal's frontcourt play in Johnson's absence. He grabbed four rebounds and came up with a crucial steal.

With Blue Ridge holding on to a 68-65 lead, a GCMS pass hit Ben Eads in the face, and the ball was loose as a result. Josh Plunk was there to scoop up the loose ball.

The ball was put in the hands of Travys Nichols, who sank two free throws to put the Knights up 70-65. As a team, Blue Ridge made 26-of-40 free-throw attempts.

"We did a great job of going inside to the post early," Watson said. "Clint O'Neal had a big game for us. Travys Nichols [was] getting fouled inside. Josh Plunk came off the bench and had some great play for us inside. That made them have to guard the post, so that opened the outside up even more for Jon Jones to get his points and for Michael [Plunk] to get his points."

On Tuesday, the Knights will take the momentum from their first win to their home court, where they will host Clinton.

"There's still some things we need to do to improve, but the kids know that they'll have to get back to work on Monday and get ready for an awfully tough Clinton team on Tuesday night," Watson said.

Watson said the status of Johnson for that game is uncertain.

"Our trainer was, obviously. with him most of the day," Watson said. "It depends on how much [the ankle] swells up. Hopefully, I'll have him for Tuesday. I'll obviously let the trainer re-evaluate him on Monday and let the trainer make the final decision."

Blue Ridge also has a rematch against the Falcons on December 16 in Gibson City.

"We have to come back to the same gym in less than three weeks and play [GCMS] again," Watson said. They're awfully tough; they play very well together and play very hard, so we're going to have to put the same effort, if not more, when we come back here in three weeks and do it all over again."

Blue Ridge 73, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 65
 Blue Ridge (73)
Trenor Hildreth 1 0-0 2, Michael Plunk 8 13-16 32, Dylan Grammer 2 0-0 4, Jon Jones 3 3-5 11, C.J. Bishop 0 2-2 2, Clint O'Neal 4 6-8 14, Travys Nichols 1 1-3 3, Tucker Johnson 1 1-2 3, Josh Plunk 1 0-2 2. Totals 21 26-40 73
GCMS (65)
Gabe Kerber 1 0-0 3, Seth McCall 4 0-0 10, Jake Johnson 3 0-0 8, John Massey 0 2-2 2, Reese Simpson 1 1-2 3, Ben Eads 2 2-3 6, Jacob Jordan 4 0-0 8, Sam Johnson 9 3-5 21, Nick Retherford 1 2-6 4. Totals 25 10-18 65
Blue Ridge    16    20    14    23    -- 73
GCMS    17    18    11    19    -- 65
3-pointers -- Blue Ridge 5 (M. Plunk 3, Jones 2). GCMS 5 (McCall 2, J. Johnson 2, Kerber).
For Blue Ridge, O'Neal had 10 rebounds, 1 steal. Hildreth had 5 rebounds, 2 steals. M. Plunk had 4 rebounds, 2 steals. J. Plunk had 4 rebounds, 1 steal. Bishop had 3 steals. Nichols had 3 rebounds. Johnson had 2 rebounds. Jones had 2 rebounds. Daniel Gilbert had 1 steal. Grammer had 1 rebound.
BLUE RIDGE BOYS BKB UPDATE: The Knights beat GCMS 73-65 to take 7th place in the Gibson City Thanksgiving Tournament.
BLUE RIDGE BOYS BKB UPDATE: The Knights lead GCMS 50-46 at the end of the third quarter.
BLUE RIDGE BOYS BKB UPDATE: The Knights lead GCMS 36-35 at halftime.
BLUE RIDGE BOYS BKB UPDATE: The Knights trail GCMS 17-16 at the end of the first quarter.

Blue Ridge Girls Basketball 50, Oakwood 28

FITHIAN, Ill. -- Thanks to another double-double from Jacquelyn O'Neal, the Lady Knights left the Comet Classic with a fifth-place finish.

O'Neal scored 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. Jamison Brandt also scored in double figures, picking up 11 points.

Blue Ridge finished the first quarter tied 8-8 in the first quarter and trailed the Comets 19-16 at halftime. From there, however, the Lady Knights outscored Oakwood 14-7 in the third quarter and 20-2 in the fourth.

Melinda Wilson finished the game with six points. Korrie Gilbert scored five points while Jeana Cheek had four points.

Bailey Clancy and Gabby Pearl each contributed two points.

With the win, Blue Ridge improves its record to 3-3. The Lady Knights will travel to Colfax on Monday for a Heart of Illinois showdown against Ridgeview.

Bismarck-Henning 74, Blue Ridge Boys Basketball 28

GIBSON CITY, Ill. -- The Blue Devils outscored the Knights 28-5 en route to a blowout victory in the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Thanksgiving Tournament.

Blue Ridge (0-3) will look to salvage a seventh-place finish from the GCMS Thanksgiving Tournament today, facing the Falcons at 2 p.m.

Bismarck-Henning scored 17, 21 and eight points in the second, third and fourth quarter, respectively, whereas the Knights scored seven, 14 and two points.

Jon Jones and Tucker Johnson each scored eight points to lead Blue Ridge. Six of Jones' points were scored via two 3-pointers while Johnson converted on 6-of-8 free-throw attempts.

As a team, the Knights scored half of its points by sinking 14-of-19 free-throw attempts. Clint O'Neal scored all four of his points via free throws.

Travys Nichols scored four points as well while Michael Plunk and C.J. Bishop each contributed two points.


Blue Ridge Girls Basketball Beats Georgetown-Ridge Farm, Will Play Oakwood for Fifth Place in Comet Classic

FITHIAN, Ill. -- After a first half in which the Lady Knights and the Lady Buffs combined for 12 points in the first quarter, Blue Ridge pulled away with a 10-0 run to start the third quarter.

From there, they never looked back, outscoring Georgetown-Ridge Farm 33-13 in the second half en route to a 52-28 victory in the Comet Classic.

As a result, the Lady Knights (2-3) will play Oakwood on Friday for fifth place. The game will tip off at 4 p.m.

"We played great tonight," Blue Ridge coach Stephanie Schroeder said. "We started off a little shaky in the first half and should have had a bigger lead than we did, but we turned it on and came out in the third quarter and took care of business and played the game."

Melinda Wilson (pictured above) and Jeana Cheek started the run with a 3-pointer each to put the Lady Knights up 25-15 one minute into the second half.

"I just told them in the locker room [at halftime] there was no reason to be as slow as we were," Schroeder said. "We were playing down to their level, and we need to pick it up and play our tempo and play our game, so they came out and played tough defense and went hard to the basket."

Wilson and Jacquelyn O'Neal were Blue Ridge's leaders on the offensive and defensive ends. O'Neal picked up a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds; eight of O'Neal's points were scored in the second half.

O'Neal (pictured below) also had three steals and three blocks. With her three blocks, she puts herself closer to the school record for most blocked shots in a career.

O'Neal is currently in the top five.

"She played an awesome game," Schroeder said. "She was dominating the boards, and defensively, [she was] where she needed to be."

Wilson scored 13 points as well. She also recorded eight rebounds and eight steals, including five in the second half.

Jamison Brandt also scored double-digit points with 12 and finished the game with five rebounds and one block.

Blue Ridge 52, Georgetown-Ridge Farm 28
Georgetown-Ridge Farm (28)
Callan Hall 1 1-3 3, Shelby Howard 0 0-0 0, Erika Briggs 1 0-1 3, Hannah Brandt 0 0-0 0, Alyssa Sawyer 1 3-5 5, Brittany Hay 3 0-0 6, Maya Green 3 3-4 9, Lexi Ovall 1 0-0 2, Katie Brandt 0 0-2 0, Baylea Hall 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 7-15 28.
Blue Ridge (52)
Jeana Cheek 2 0-0 5, Jacquelyn O'Neal 6 1-3 13, Korrie Gilbert 0 0-0 0, Ashley Spicer 0 0-0 0, Melinda Wilson 5 2-2 13, Liz Cordes 0 0-0 0, Bailey Clancy 0 2-2 2, Gabby Pearl 3 1-2 7, Jamison Brandt 6 0-0 12, Breanna Watterson 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 6-8 52.
Georgetown-Ridge Farm    5    10    8    5    -- 28
Blue Ridge    7    12    19    14    -- 52
3-pointers -- Georgetown-Ridge Farm (Briggs). Blue Ridge 2 (Cheek, Wilson).
For Blue Ridge, O'Neal had 13 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks. Wilson had 8 rebounds, 8 steals. Pearl had 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block. Brandt had 5 rebounds, 1 block. Clancy had 5 rebounds. Spicer had 2 rebounds, 1 steal. Cheek had 1 rebound, 1 steal. Team had 38 rebounds, 14 steals, 5 blocks.
BLUE RIDGE GIRLS BKB UPDATE: The Lady Knights beat GRF 52-28, will play Oakwood Friday for fifth place at 4 p.m.
BLUE RIDGE GIRLS BKB UPDATE: The Lady Knights lead Georgetown-Ridge Farm 19-15 at halftime in the Comet Classic.
BLUE RIDGE GIRLS BKB UPDATE: The Lady Knights lead 11-7 with 5:15 left in the first half.

Prairie Central 66, Blue Ridge Boys Basketball 47

GIBSON CITY, Ill. -- After the Knights gained a 17-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Hawks raced ahead with a 18-6 run in the second quarter to go up 32-23 at halftime.

From there, Prairie Central controlled the action en route to a blowout victory in the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Thanksgiving Tournament. Addison Bounds led the way with 25 points, including 15 in the first half.

For Blue Ridge, Tucker Johnson led the team in scoring with 19 points. Michael Plunk scored double-digit points as well with 11.

Daniel Gilbert contributed to the Knights' scoring with four points. Jon Jones, Johnney Bruden and C.J. Bishop each scored three points while Travys Nichols and Trenor Hildreth each added two.

Blue Ridge (0-2) will continue playing in the GCMS Thanksgiving Tournament on Friday, when it faces Bismarck-Henning at 5:30 p.m.


Blue Ridge Boys Basketball Blows Second-Half Lead to Tri-Point in Season Opener

GIBSON CITY, Ill. -- With only one varsity player (Tucker Johnson) remaining from last year's regional championship team, the Knights will count on some younger players to play big roles for the team.

With those younger players come growing pains, such as giving up second-half leads. In its season opener at the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Thanksgiving Tournament, Blue Ridge had a 47-38 halftime lead.

Tri-Point outscored the Knights 18-13 in the third quarter to cut the lead to 60-56. Then the Chargers stole the game with a 28-19 run in the fourth quarter, winning the game 84-79.

Tri-Point began the fourth quarter run with an 11-3 run that put the Chargers up 67-63 with 5:42 left in the game. The last two points of that run were scored when Terry Barnhart stole the ball and drove for a layup on the fastbreak.

According to Blue Ridge coach Kyle Watson, turnovers were one of the keys to Tri-Point's come-from-behind victory.

"They went man-to-man and pressured [us] in the second half, and they forced us into a lot of turnovers," Watson said. "With us being this young, I told them in the locker room it's gonna be something we have to learn from."

Tucker Johnson was Blue Ridge's leading scorer with 27 points. Jon Jones contributed 19 points, including six 3-pointers in the first half.

"He had a great first half, but then they really tightened up the defense in the second half," Watson said. "He hurt their zone in the first half."

For Tri-Point, Barnhart led the team with 30 points, including 16 in the first quarter. 

"He was a stud. He was a horse," Watson said. "We did a nice job on him [after the first quarter]; we attacked him and got him to foul trouble and fouled him out of the game."

Despite yielding only eight points to Barnhart in the fourth quarter, the Chargers were able to put up 28 points thanks to 18-of-25 shooting from the free-throw line. Jordan Tharp sank 10 of his 12 fourth-quarter free-throw attempts to finish with a total of 20 points.

With less than 30 seconds remaining and the Knights trailing 82-77, Tharp intercepted a Michael Plunk pass and was fouled on the fastbreak by Johnson, who fouled out of the game as a result. Tharp made one of his two ensuing free-throw attempts.

"They attacked the basket, and we turned the ball over, so that's something we need to learn from," Watson said. "We need to be the people that are attacking the basket. It's gonna be awfully hard to win games when you give up [more than] 80 points. We definitely have to build our defense a lot better than what it was tonight."

With the loss, Blue Ridge starts its season with an 0-1 record. The Knights will continue playing in the GCMS Thanksgiving Tournament on Tuesday against Prairie Central at 6:30 p.m.

"I told the kids in the locker room we did some really nice things," Watson said. "We've got to build on those nice things we did, take away some of the mistakes and use this as a learning point. I know it's early and we're young, so if we can use this as a learning point, then it's gonna be something where we'll have success down the road. But we can't make the same mistakes we made tonight, unfortunately. We have to build on this, and we'll have to do it within 24 hours. I'm sure Prairie Central's going to press us tomorrow night, too."

Tri-Point 84, Blue Ridge 79
Tri-Point (84)
Dylan Juergens 4 2-2 11, Jordan Tharp 4 10-12 20, Ryan DeFord 4 4-11 12, Timmy Crouch 1 0-0 3, Nathan Hoffman 2 2-2 8, Terry Barnhart 10 7-8 30. Totals 25 25-34 84
Blue Ridge (79)
Trenor Hildreth 0 1-2 1, Michael Plunk 4 3-4 12, Jon Jones 6 1-2 19, C.J. Bishop 1 0-0 3, Daniel Gilbert 1 0-0 2, Clint O'Neal 2 1-2 5, Travys Nichols 4 2-3 10, Tucker Johnson 10 7-10 27. Totals 28 15-23 79
Tri-Point    21    17    18    28    -- 84
Blue Ridge    25    22    13    19    -- 79
3-pointers -- Tri-Point 9 (Barnhart 3, Hoffman 2, Tharp 2, Crouch, Juergens). Blue Ridge 8 (Jones 6, Bishop, Plunk).
BLUE RIDGE BOYS BKB UPDATE: Tri-Point came from behind to beat the Knights 84-79.
BLUE RIDGE BOYS BKB UPDATE: The Knights lead Tri-Point 60-56 at the end of the third quarter.
BLUE RIDGE BOYS BKB UPDATE: The Knights lead Tri-Point 47-38 at halftime in the GCMS Thanksgiving Tournament.
BLUE RIDGE BOYS BKB UPDATE: The Knights lead Tri-Point 25-21 at the end of the first quarter.


Blue Ridge Girls Basketball Loses to Milford, Shiloh in Comet Classic

Updated November 21 at 11:21 a.m.

FITHIAN, Ill. -- Jacquelyn O'Neal and Jamison Brandt scored double-digit points in a losing effort, as the Lady Knights lost to the Lady Bearcats 47-40.

Each team made 18 field goals, but Milford made 11-of-22 free-throw attempts compared to Blue Ridge's 4-of-6. The Lady Knights outscored the Lady Bearcats 21-17 in the second and third quarters combined.

Milford, however, took an 16-8 first-quarter lead and outscored Blue Ridge 14-11 in the fourth quarter.

O'Neal and Brandt scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, to lead the Lady Knights. Melinda Wilson had five points, Bailey Clancy recorded four points and Jeana Cheek and Liz Cordes each finished with two points.

Blue Ridge also lost to Shiloh 59-34. Wilson was the leading scorer with nine points while O'Neal grabbed eight rebounds.

The Lady Knights (1-3) will continue playing in the Comet Classic on Wednesday, when it faces Georgetown-Ridge Farm at 5 p.m.


Blue Ridge Girls Basketball Picks Up Victory in Comet Classic

Updated November 21 at 11:19 a.m.

FITHIAN, Ill. -- The Lady Knights outscored Westville 17-2 in the first quarter en route to a 42-23 victory.

After getting outscored 10-5 in the second quarter, Blue Ridge gained 12-6 and 8-5 advantages in the third and fourth quarter, respectively.

Jamison Brandt led the Lady Knights with 15 points. Jacquelyn O'Neal contributed 12 points while Melinda Wilson scored 11.

O'Neal also grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked three shots. Blue Ridge had a total of 30 steals as a team.

Jeana Cheek and Bailey Clancy each finished with two points.

With the win, Blue Ridge improves to 1-1. The Lady Knights will continue playing in the Comet Classic with a doubleheader today.

They will face Shiloh at 4:30 p.m. and play against Milford at 7:30 p.m.


Blue Ridge Boys Basketball Scrimmage: Blue 40, White 35

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- Three days before their season opener, the Knights held a Blue and White scrimmage for one last tune-up.

In a game that Blue Ridge coach Kyle Watson said was "a bit shaky at times," Tucker Johnson (pictured below in black jersey) led the Blue team with 15 points en route to a 40-35 victory over the White team.

"You want to have a game like tonight, so you can get the kinks worked out a little bit," Watson said. "We did some good things tonight; we also had some things we need to work on. We'll have practice tomorrow. We'll come get those things corrected, and hopefully be ready to go by Monday night."

Johnson, a 6-foot-4 senior forward who is the Knights' only returning varsity player from last year, scored the first of his 15 points via 3-pointer. He also hit a shot from the perimeter in the first half to give the Blue team a 21-10 lead.

"He's going to be a guy, hopefully this year, [who will] have some mismatches," Watson said. "When he came up as a sophomore, he was more of an outside player. [Johnson] had a great run in the postseason [last year] during the three-point contest. He really showed that he can hit that shot, and he's worked hard on that shot this summer, so he's doing a great job."

Johnson also showed his ability to score in the paint, giving the Blue team a 15-10 lead by driving to the lane for a left-handed layup and a 17-10 lead with a hook shot.

"Last year, he played inside and had a real nice year for us," Watson said. "If there's a situation where he has some smalls on him, then maybe he can go down and post the small up," Watson said. "If he has some bigs on him, he can take that big out and get a nice shot on it."

For the White team, center Travys Nichols (pictured above) scored 14 points to lead his team. Jon Jones added nine points.

Blue Ridge will open its season on Monday, playing in its first game of the Gibson-City-Melvin-Sibley Thanksgiving Tournament against Tri-Point at 5 p.m.

"I'd much rather see [the mistakes] in a game like this than in a game Monday night," Watson said.

Meanwhile, the Blue team also won the junior varsity scrimmage, beating the White team 41-18.

No.    Name    Height    Weight    Position    Year
2    Trenor Hildreth    5'9"    180    Forward    12
4    Michael Plunk    6'2"    155    Guard    10
10    Mark Plunk    6'1"    155    Forward    11
12    Will Duggins    6'0"    160    Guard    10
14    Dylan Grammer    5'10"    145    Guard    9
20    Jon Jones    6'1"    160    Guard    11
22    Johnney Bruden     5'8"    175    Guard    11
30    C.J. Bishop    5'10"    140    Guard    11
32    Daniel Gilbert    6'3"    165    Forward    11
34    Clint O' Neal    6'3"    190    Forward    10
40    Travys Nichols    6'4"    175    Center    11
44    Tucker Johnson    6'4"    170    Forward    12    
16    Matt White                                             


Tim Tebow Leads Broncos to Game-Winning Drive over Jets on Thursday Night Football

As I stated in my previous post, Michael Irvin theorized (perhaps jokingly) that the angels from Angels in the Outfield have been helping the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos.

Well, the angels showed up (perhaps) as Tebow and the Broncos offense took over on their own 5-yard line late in the fourth quarter. And Denver, whether it was helped by angels or whether it performed its own magic, scored a touchdown and beat the New York Jets 17-13.

Prior to the late drive, Tebow produced a total of only 80 yards on offense. On the game-winning drive, the Broncos drove 95 yards on 12 plays, a drive that would have made even John Elway proud.

Many of those yards were gained on Tebow runs. And he finished off the drive by scrambling to the left from the blitzing Jets and running for a 20-yard touchdown with 58 seconds left in the game.

However, the angels (if they were real) were kind to New York as well, giving an offensive lineman the rare opportunity to score some points. Matt Slauson recovered a fumble for a touchdown to give the Jets a 10-3 lead with 10:57 left in the third quarter.

But when it came down to the moment of truth, the angels (again, if they were real) were on Tebow's side.

NFL Thursday Night Football -- Jets 3, Broncos 3 (Halftime)

Some fans of the Denver Broncos wear No. 15 jerseys that, surprisingly, do not have the name Tim Tebow's last name on the back.

Instead, they show the name Jesus on the back.

Regarding the Broncos' 3-1 record with Tebow as the starter, NFL Network's Michael Irvin gave his own theory of divine intervention during Thursday Night Kickoff. He theorized that the angels from the movie Angels in the Outfield are helping Denver.

That may explain some key plays in the first half of this game against the Jets. Matt Prater's 37-yard field goal was set up by good field position when New York punter T.J. Conley shanked a punt.

Perhaps an angel forced the punt out of bounds after it went a mere 13 yards.

Jets placekicker missed two field goals. Perhaps an angel kept those two kicks away from the goalposts.

And there was one Jets drive that was thwarted by a bad snap from Nick Mangold.

It will be interesting to see if any angels show up in the second half. Or if I'm just being crazy.


Blue Ridge Girls Basketball Tips Off Season with 15-Point Loss to Maroa-Forsyth

MAROA, Ill. -- Jacquelyn O'Neal and Melinda Wilson each scored double-digit points.

It was not enough, however, as the Lady Trojans' Brenna Finck scored 19 points to lead her team to a 57-42 victory over the Lady Knights.

Blue Ridge ended the first quarter trailing 15-13. Maroa-Forsyth ended the half with a lead of 29-23.

Then the Lady Trojans pulled away with a 15-7 third quarter to build a 44-30 lead.

O'Neal led Blue Ridge with 16 points, 10 of which were scored in the first quarter. She also led her team in rebounds with five.

Wilson picked up 12 points, including the Lady Knights' only 3-pointer of the game, and recorded four rebounds and two steals. Blue Ridge finished the game shooting 1-for-6 from beyond the arc as a team.

The Lady Knights also shot 15-for-35 (42.9%) from the field and 11-for-26 (42.3%) from the free-throw line.

The Lady Trojans' bench outscored Blue Ridge's bench 35-10.

With the loss, Blue Ridge starts its season with an 0-1 record. The Lady Knights will begin playing in the Comet Classic at Oakwood High School on Friday, when they will face Westville at 6:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Maroa-Forsyth improves to 1-1.

Maroa-Forsyth 57, Blue Ridge 42
Blue Ridge (42)
Jeana Cheek 0 0-1 0, Jacquelyn O'Neal 8 0-2 16, Melinda Wilson 5 1-2 12, Liz Cordes 0 1-2 1, Bailey Clancy 0 6-11 6, Gabby Pearl 1 2-2 4, Jamison Brandt 1 1-6 3, Breanna Watterson 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 11-26 42.
Maroa-Forsyth (57)
Shae Doolin 0 0-0 0, Devin Greenwell 0 0-0 0, Tarynn Tirpak 3 0-1 6, Gabby Werren 0 0-0 0, Alex Berry 0 0-0 0, Kennedy Flesner 5 0-0 12, Aaliyah Currie 4 1-2 9, Brenna Finck 8 0-0 19, Kaitlin Snyder 1 1-2 3, Breanna Livingood 2 0-0 4, Rachel Hastings 0 0-0 0, Taylor Butler 2 0-0 4. Totals 25 2-5 57.
Blue Ridge   13   10   7   12   -- 42
Maroa-Forsyth   15   14   15   13   -- 57
3-pointers -- Blue Ridge (Wilson), Maroa-Forsyth 5 (Finck 3, Flesner 2). Rebounds -- Blue Ridge 18, Maroa-Forsyth 9. Turnovers -- Blue Ridge 10, Maroa-Forsyth 14. Total Fouls -- Blue Ridge 11, Maroa-Forsyth 21. Points in the Paint -- Blue Ridge 16, Maroa-Forsyth 16.

Kyle Watson, Blue Ridge Boys Basketball Hopes to Build on Successful 2010-11 Season

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- Only a year removed from a 4-22 campaign in 2009-10, the Knights finished last season with a 19-14 record and three points away from a sectional title.

Deer Creek-Mackinaw ended the Cinderella story with a 64-61 victory in the championship game of the Glasford Illini Bluffs Sectional.

Going into this season, Blue Ridge coach Kyle Watson says he hopes to build on last season's success and turn the dream season into a consistent reality for his program.

"Obviously, we want to make it to where 19-14 and the sectional finals is not just once in 10 years," Watson said. "We'd like to make it more often, and hopefully make it an every-year type of deal down the road. That's obviously a key part having the success we had last year and then try build on that success. I'm still hungry, and I hope they're still hungry, to make another nice run again this year as well."

Although he has yet to show the film from the sectional final to his team, Watson said he hopes his players have the game in memory.

"I want them to remember the success we had and remember how close we were," Watson said. "And hopefully that becomes something that happens more often."

For last season's success to be repeated this year will be a challenge, as the Knights are returning only three varsity players from the previous year.

Gone are Jack Plunk, a unanimous choice for the Heart of Illinois Conference first team, and HOIC second-team member Tanner Trent.

Watson said 6-foot-3 forward Tucker Johnson will take over the leadership role in their place.

"He showed this summer, when we go to summer tournaments, when the kids come and play in the gym and come into the weight room to lift, he showed a leadership role there, making sure everybody is doing what they're supposed to be doing," Watson said. "He's been a vocal leader so far in practice. This is his third year being with me, so he knows what I expect now, and he can portray that onto the kids.

"A lot of the kids [are in] their third year with me, so they're more familiar with the program. They're more familiar with the things that I run, and we're having some good success in practice so far with it."

Guards Austin Maxwell and Conner Builta are the two other seniors returning for Blue Ridge. After that, the Knights will bring up talent from a junior varsity team that, according to Watson, finished 16-6 last year.

"Our JV team had a very strong year last year. They had a lot of success, so some of the JV players are going to be counted on to step up into varsity roles," Watson said. "Some of the sophomores are now juniors. Travys Nichols and Jon Jones are going to come in and play big roles for us.

"Michael Plunk was a freshman starting last year on JV, and is going to have to come in and play a strong role for us. Mark Plunk is a junior coming in off the JV team. C.J. Bishop [are juniors] coming in off the JV team to help us out. And then some people that were freshmen on the JV team last year -- Clint O'Neal and Will Duggins -- are going to have to come in and help us out as well.

"Some of the sophomores have been practicing with both JV and varsity right now. Obviously, some of the sophomores [from last year] have to step up into some starting roles this year for us."

Despite the new blood on the 2011-12 varsity team, Watson said he is not worried about the question marks heading into the new season.

"We had some questions coming into last year, and we have some questions coming into this year," Watson said. "The questions got answered last year, so hopefully we can answer those questions again this year."

If Johnson proves to be a reliable leader and the former JV players are able to produce at the varsity level, Watson may be able to turn the Blue Ridge program into a traditional power. Not unlike Boylan Catholic High School in Rockford, of which Watson is a former colleague.

"I'd like it to almost come in to where I came from -- Boylan [Catholic] -- where [sectionals] was the expectation," Watson said. "That's what the expectation was year-in and year-out, and not just the farthest in school history, and that's what I try to portray on the kids. Hopefully that's what they'll portray on the floor this year."

The Knights will start the 2011-12 season at the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Thanksgiving Tournament next week. They will begin playing in the tournament against Tri-Point on Monday at 5 p.m.

Blue Ridge will tune up for the tournament with a Blue and White Scrimmage, which will be held on Friday at 6 p.m.


Blue Ridge Girls Golf Team Honored by News-Gazette

The Lady Knights were named the No. 10 team in the News-Gazette area.

Amber Tsevelekos and Kelsey Baker were nominated Honorable Mentions for the best golfers in the area.

ESPN Tip-Off Marathon: Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos Makes School History

From John Stockton to Adam Morrison, Gonzaga is a school that is known for its famous backcourt alums.

Now, the Bulldogs have a freshman who could soon be the next big thing: Kevin Pangos.

In Gonzaga's 89-81 win over Washington State, Pangos scored 33 points and recorded six assists. More impressively, he tied a school record for most 3-pointers made in a single game.

Pangos was 9-for-13 from beyond the arc. He is now tied for the single-game record with Dan Dickau, who made nine 3-pointers on February 22, 2001, against Santa Clara.


Trenor Hildreth Among Blue Ridge Athletes Honored at Fall Sports Awards

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- At Monday's presentation of the fall sports awards, it was announced that Trenor Hildreth was named the No. 1 defensive player on the News-Gazette's All-Area football team.

He was also announced as a Heart of Illinois Conference Honorable Mention (along with Devin Voyles, Johnny Bruden and Jordan Schrock) and presented with a team award for defensive player of the year.

A few years ago, Hildreth seemed a long shot toward any of those achievements. Due to multiple concussions and bouts with head trauma, he was told by doctors that he would never be able to play football again.

However, thanks in part to the mentoring of assistant coach Shane Halcomb, Hildreth strengthened his condition enough to be able to return to the gridiron.

And in 2011, the senior linebacker led the Champaign-Urbana area with 142 tackles and 81 solo tackles. At the award ceremony, Halcomb (as seen in the photo above) presented Hildreth with a framed copy of the area stats that showed him as the leading tackler.

For all his achievements, Hildreth said he would like to thank his team and the doctors at the hospital who helped him recover.

"They were there every step of the way," Hildreth said.


For what head coach Marty Price said was "about two hours," J.J. Malone held the IHSA record for most goals scored in a career with 162.

That record now belongs to Crete-Monee's Carlos Posada, who ended the 2011 season with 177 career goals.

Regardless, J.J. Malone was nominated as a member of the Chicago Fire All-Academic team. He also received the team MVP award.

The Dedication Award was given to Conner Builta (not Nick, as Price accidentally called him). The Most Improved Player Award was awarded to Wes Thompson.

The Defensive Player of the Year award went to goalkeeper Josh Plunk, who led the Champaign-Urbana area with the least amount of goals allowed per match, allowing 21 goals in 25 matches. He also produced 16 shutouts.


Kaitlyn Zelhart finished her career with the Lady Knights with a total of 1,105 kills.

She also had 67 blocks, 54 aces, 288 digs and 171 service points. So it was no surprise that Kaitlyn Zelhart received the team award for Most Valuable Player or that she was nominated as a member of the HOIC's First Team.

Her sister, Emily, finished the 2011 season with 411 assists. As a result, she was named as an Honorable Mention in the HOIC.

Jordan Wheeler received the Coach's Award as well as an HOIC Honorable Mention. The Players' Award went to Kasey Sedberry.


The boys team advanced past regionals for the first time since 2000, and Amber Tsevelekos qualified for sectionals as well for the girls team.

For these achievements, the boys team (Austin Maxwell, Mason Potts, C.J. Bishop, Dylan Weidner and Justin Jamison, among others) and Tsevelekos were recognized at the awards ceremony.

Blue Ridge Athletes of the Month -- October

According to the Blue Ridge High School student announcements, the following were selected as October's Athletes of the Month:

Football -- Trenor Hildreth

Soccer -- Conner Builta

Volleyball -- Kasey Sedberry

Golf -- Amber Tsevelekos and Will Duggins


Blue Ridge Volleyball's Kaitlyn Zelhart Signs Letter of Intent to Join Jacksonville State

"It shows that there's no going back. It's exciting because it's more official."
-- Kaitlyn Zelhart

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- Before signing her Letter of Intent for Jacksonville State, Kaitlyn Zelhart gave a speech thanking all of her fans for their support during her years with the Blue Ridge volleyball program.

In the middle of her speech, she needed a moment to pause as she broke down in tears. To anyone who has comforted Zelhart after her Lady Knights lost a match, it should have been a familiar sight.

Only this time, she cried tears of joy and appreciation.

"I really didn't want to cry," Zelhart said. "I knew that I would, though, because I'm very emotional. It was really tough to thank all of them like that. It was scary."

Prior to her speech, both of Zelhart's high school coaches (Deb Leisner and Evan Miles, pictured below) got a chance to speak. Leisner, who coached Zelhart in junior high and during her first two years of high school, recalled a story of frustration from when the seventh-grade volleyball team played in regionals.

The team was playing without Jordan Wheeler, who was out with an injury, and could not make much noise in the tournament. That did not sit well with Zelhart.

"I actually ended up crying on the court because I was so frustrated with everyone," Zelhart said. "I knew we were going to lose, and I didn't want to lose. It's just one of those stories."

Leisner went on to talk about how much she enjoyed watching Zelhart grow up through junior high and her first two high school years.

During her high school career with the Lady Knights, she became the first player in school history to record over 1,000 kills. The official game ball with which she got the 1,000th kill was signed by members of the Blue Ridge volleyball team and on the same table where she signed the Letter of Intent.

In Zelhart's senior year, she was named as a member of the Heart of Illinois Conference's first team and nominated an All-Area team member by the News-Gazette.

"It's definitely been an amazing experience, and I could never replace it," Zelhart said. "I thank all my fans and everything because I could never do it without them."

Next year, she will be a freshman for the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, who underwent a coaching change since Zelhart's visit to the campus.

Rick Nold left the Gamecocks last spring to take a vacant head coaching position at Auburn. Joseph Goodson replaced him on July 7.

Despite the coaching change, Zelhart said she looks forward to taking her talents to the Jacksonville State campus, where she will study physical therapy. JSU is located in the state of Alabama, nine hours away from the Farmer City, Ill., area.

"When I went down and visited there, I really liked the campus and the coaches and everything," Zelhart said. "I knew I wanted to go there when I got there. It was nice. I think it's going to be really scary just because it's nine hours away, but I think I'll get used to it. I'll definitely have to come home because I'll miss everyone. That's definitely the scariest part."

Zelhart said she will not participate in any elite volleyball clubs prior to her freshman year at Jacksonville State due to concerns over a shoulder injury. She needed to have surgery performed on March 18 for a torn labrum.

"I'm hoping to strengthen it and get back and hopefully make an impact on the [JSU] program when I get there," Zelhart said.


Blue Ridge Soccer's J.J. Malone Named Player of the Year

The News-Gazette awarded Malone with the honor of being named the All-Area Player of the Year.

Conner Builta was named to the newspaper's All-Area second team.

Josh Plunk received an Honorable Mention.


Effective Immediately, Joe Paterno's Historical Tenure as Penn State's Football Coach Ends

Updated November 9 at 9:47 p.m.

"With the benefit of of hindsight, I wish I had done more," JoePa said.

I'm sure that statement was regarding the recent scandal. But as far as his coaching career is concerned, I cannot imagine how much more he could done.

Since taking over as the Nittany Lions' head coach in 1966, he won more games (409) than anyone in Division I college football history and won two national championships.

It is just a shame that it all had to end like this.

It is a shame that it all had to end because, despite all the time he spent building the program, he ultimately did not have total control of it at the end.

It all had to end because he was put into a difficult situation by something another member of his program did.


Blue Ridge Boys Golf Team in Area's Top 10; Austin Maxwell Receives Honorable Mention

The Knights finished the golf season ranked No. 9 in the area.

Meanwhile, Austin Maxwell was awarded an Honorable Mention for the area's best golfer.


Blue Ridge Sports Roundup: November 3, 2011


Kaitlyn Zelhart was named as a Heart of Illinois Conference first team member and part of the News-Gazette's all-area team.

Jordan Wheeler and Emily Zelhart were named HOIC honorable mentions.

 Boys Basketball

There will be a Blue and White Scrimmage on Friday, November 18, at 6 p.m.

Blue Ridge Boys, Girls Basketball Varsity Schedules

Boys Basketball

November 21 -- Blue Ridge at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Thanksgiving Tournament vs. Tri-Point, 5 p.m.

November 22 -- Blue Ridge at GCMS Thanksgiving Tournament vs. Prairie Central, 6:30 p.m.

November 25 -- Blue Ridge at GCMS Thanksgiving Tournament vs. Bismarck-Henning, 4:30 p.m.

November 26 -- Blue Ridge at GCMS Thanksgiving Tournament, TBA

November 29 -- Clinton at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

December 2 -- Blue Ridge at Tremont, 7 p.m.

December 6 -- Heyworth at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

December 9 -- Fisher at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

December 16 -- Blue Ridge at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, 7:30 p.m.

December 27-29 -- Blue Ridge at Monticello Tourney with Dwight and other teams TBA

January 3 -- Blue Ridge at Fieldcrest, 7:30 p.m.

January 7 -- Blue Ridge at Maroa-Forsyth, 7:30 p.m.

January 10 -- Lexington at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

January 13 -- LeRoy at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

January 14, 16-18, 20-21 -- Blue Ridge at McLean County Tournament with LeRoy, Tri-Valley and other teams TBA

January 24 -- Flanagan at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

January 31 -- Blue Ridge at Deer Creek-Mackinaw, 7:30 p.m.

February 3 -- Tri-Valley at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

February 7 -- Blue Ridge at Paxton-Buckley-Loda, 7:30 p.m.

February 10 -- Blue Ridge at Ridgeview, 7:30 p.m.

February 14 -- St. Thomas More at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

February 16 -- Blue Ridge at El Paso-Gridley, 7:30 p.m.

Girls Basketball

November 15 -- Blue Ridge at Maroa-Forsyth, 7:30 p.m.

November 18 -- Blue Ridge at Comet Classic in Oakwood vs. Westville, 6:30 p.m.

November 19 -- Blue Ridge at Comet Classic vs. Shiloh, 4:30 p.m.

November 19 -- Blue Ridge at Comet Classic vs. Milford, 7:30 p.m.

November 23 -- Blue Ridge at Comet Classic vs. Georgetown-Ridge Farm, 5 p.m.

November 25 -- Blue Ridge at Comet Classic, TBA

November 28 -- Blue Ridge at Ridgeview, 7:30 p.m.

December 1 -- Blue Ridge at Tremont, 7 p.m.

December 5 -- Heyworth at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

December 8 -- Fisher at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

December 10 -- Blue Ridge at Clinton, 12:30 p.m.

December 12 -- DeLand-Weldon at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

December 15 -- Blue Ridge at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, 7:30 p.m.

December 22-23, 27-28 -- Blue Ridge at Okaw Valley Holiday Tournament in Bethany with Argenta-Oreana and other teams TBA

January 2 -- Blue Ridge at Fieldcrest, 7:30 p.m.

January 9 -- Lexington at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

January 12 -- LeRoy at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

January 14, 16-21 -- Blue Ridge at McLean County Tournament vs. Lexington, LeRoy and other teams TBA

January 23 -- Blue Ridge at El Paso-Gridley, 7:30 p.m.

January 24 -- Blue Ridge at Paxton-Buckley-Loda, 7:30 p.m.

January 26 -- Flanagan at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

January 30 -- Blue Ridge at Deer Creek-Mackinaw, 7:30 p.m.

February 2 -- Tri-Valley at Blue Ridge, 7:30 p.m.