Southeast basketball teams show early promise

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team opened its season Friday night in somewhat predictable fashion, suffering a 74-55 loss at seventh-ranked Kansas.

What wasn't predictable was the way the Redhawks made Kansas, last year's national runner-up, sweat in the second half after Southeast got off to an extremely slow start.

Southeast, which never led, dug itself an early hole but cut a 32-17 halftime deficit to six points in the second half before the Jayhawks finally pulled away for good.

The Redhawks' defense was strong, holding Kansas to 38.7-percent shooting, but Southeast shot just 29 percent -- not all that surprising considering the Jayhawks' size, length and athleticism.

All things considered, it wasn't a bad showing for the Redhawks.

Meanwhile, Southeast's women began their season in a way that many people might not have predicted.

The rebuilding Redhawks had one of their top performances under second-year coach Ty Margenthaler, rolling past visiting Wright State 78-66.

Wright State routed Southeast by 21 points last year in Dayton, Ohio. The Raiders won 21 games a year ago and again are expected to be among the Horizon League's top squads.

But Southeast, which led by 21 points in the second half, shot well, defended well and simply played a strong all-around game.

There is no doubt Southeast's women are better this year and should be able to improve on last season's 7-22 record.

How much better the Redhawks end up being is still to be determined, but Friday's performance certainly was a good way to start.

You've just got to feel awful for Southeast women's basketball player Brooke Taylor, who has had about the worst luck imaginable.

Taylor will miss her third consecutive season with the Redhawks after recently suffering a torn ACL during practice. She also missed last year with a torn ACL and the previous campaign with a blood disorder.

Taylor, a touted recruit who was a four-time all-stater at Bismarck (Mo.) High School, has not suited up for a regular-season game with the Redhawks.

Here's wishing her a complete recovery from her latest injury. And if she decides to continue her basketball career, here's hoping she is able to play injury-free the next few years.

It's a shame the Ohio Valley Conference, unlike a lot of leagues, doesn't recognize divisional winners as official OVC champions.

But that does not detract from what the Southeast volleyball team has accomplished this year.

What an amazing season it's been for the Redhawks, who won the OVC West Division title during the league's first season of divisional play for volleyball.

Southeast (20-12, 12-4 OVC) has come a long way in a short time under second-year coach Julie Folliard, who took over a once-proud program that was sagging considerably.

The Redhawks have posted the program's first 20-win season since 2007, when they claimed a share of the OVC regular-season title.

Now the Redhawks will try to continue their resurgence in the OVC tournament, which runs Thursday through Saturday in Morehead, Ky., with the winner earning the league's automatic NCAA tournament berth.

Southeast is the No. 2 seed, behind host Morehead State, the three-time defending OVC regular-season champion.

Ste. Genevieve Valle Catholic junior running back Tyler Fallert had one of the most amazing performances in the history of Missouri high school football last week.

Fallert rushed for 481 yards on 27 carries and scored six touchdowns as the Warriors routed host Portageville 47-10 in the Class 1 District 1 championship game.

Fallert's rushing total is the fourth-most for a single game in Missouri history.

Two-time defending state champion Valle went on to beat Miller 48-25 in Saturday's quarterfinal behind another big game from Fallert, who rushed for 330 yards and seven touchdowns.

Another team from the region advancing to the state semifinal round is Caruthersville, which beat Maplewood 54-37 on Saturday behind a great performance from its own impressive running back.

Junior Darrell Monroe, who is being recruited by major Division I programs, rushed for 251 yards on 28 carries and scored five touchdowns -- two on fumble returns.

Here's wishing Brad Wittenborn all the best after he recently announced his retirement from coaching at Notre Dame Regional High School, where he will remain in his role as assistant principal.

Wittenborn's decorated coaching career includes three state championships in boys soccer during the 2000s and two state titles in boys basketball during the 1980s. I doubt if many coaches in state history have had that much combined success in those two sports.

I've known Wittenborn about as long as I've worked at the Missourian -- more than 28 years -- having covered his state championship basketball teams on a regular basis. He's a terrific guy, a class act all the way.

OVC regular-season and tournament champion Tennessee-Martin made a good showing in the NCAA soccer tournament but suffered a 1-0 overtime loss to Kentucky in Friday's opening round.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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