In the past, the game has always been billed as the decided for the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League championship.



When Girard and St. Mary’s-Colgan square off on the basketball court, the championship implications have always been great.

In the past, the game has always been billed as the decided for the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League championship.

When Girard and St. Mary’s-Colgan square off on the basketball court, the championship implications have always been great.

Now, however, with schedule changes in the CNC, that game has been moved to be the league opener for both schools tonight at the St. Mary’s-Colgan Fieldhouse.

Does it change the impact the game usually has on the league championship?

“I don’t really think so but it is different,” said Colgan girl’s basketball coach Megan Simmons. “The winner does have a step up early. Although, you know that there is a lot more pressure for the winner to keep up their momentum.”

Both the Trojan and Panther girl’s teams are fresh off a pair of mid-season tournament championships with Colgan (9-1) knocking off Galena in the Tony Dubray Classic Saturday and Girard (8-2) beating Pittsburg in the Wilson County Classic title tilt on Friday night.

Not to mention that the Trojan girls currently own a two-game winning streak over the Panthers.

“I think each year is different,” said Girard head coach Brad Herlocker. “The girls have some confidence coming in but each year is a different thing. We both have lost players so, I don’t know how much it plays into it.”

In their previous two meetings, the Trojans have been able to jump out to a sizable lead early and Colgan has been forced to battle back.

“They have usually come out with a quick start and that has been our downfall,” Simmons said. “We have just run out of time in the end and, I hope, we can change that and come out right from the tip.”

The Panthers will have to face up with Girard’s leading scorer Carly Twarog as well as a team that can produce a different leading scorer on any night.

“I think we are very similar teams and have similar styles of ball,” Herlocker said. “It is exciting to play a team like that.”

That means that senior Lisa Elmer — who is just 35 points away from 1,000 — Allison McCormick, Annie Dellasega and Breezie Trytek will have to match that production.

“When I think of our team, I think we are about the same,” Simmons said. “We both like to put pressure on the ball and we both have different players that can come out and score.

“I think our girls are old enough and have enough experience to where they won’t crack under pressure,” Simmons said. “But, it will take the little things to get a win.”

On the boy’s side, the Panthers (7-3) are coming off a 26-point loss to Galena in the Dubray title game. Girard (10-1) head coach Rod Wescott knows that Colgan will be ready, especially after the loss.

“They are going to be ready to play no matter what,” Wescott said. “It is a pretty good rivalry and it has been Girard and Colgan battling for that top spot in the league.”

Colgan head coach Wayne Cichon agreed.

“As far as focus is concerned, I think the loss is what gets them focused quicker than anything,” Cichon said. “Girard is a very good team and it will be a difficult opponent.”

While Girard has a multitude of weapons at their disposal, such as the inside play of Tanner Poppe and the shooting ability of J.D. Heatherly and Darian Kelly, Wescott said that may be equaled by the fact that Colgan has the home-court advantage tonight.

“I don’t know if you can say we have an advantage because we are playing at Colgan and they are going to want to protect their territory and they will be hungry,” Wescott said.

But, Cichon said that it will be the play on the court that will determine the outcome, not a court advantage.

“You have to play good, solid defense and that is going to start with the one-on-one match-ups,” Cichon said. “Jesse [Watt] will have to buckle down on Tanner and Stu [Jeck] will have Kelly and that is where it will start.”

Both teams will also have to contend with the weather.

With more winter weather expected in the area, there is a possibility that the game will have to be moved to a later date.

That is something that none of the teams hope happens.

“Both teams understand what is at stake and it is a nice rivalry,” Wescott said. “Our kids want to have school and play. We want to come out and, hopefully, keep improving.”

Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140

Prep slate
Here is a list of tonight’s scheduled games for area prep basketball teams:
Pittsburg at Iola
Girard at St. Mary’s-Colgan
Southeast at Frontenac
Northeast at Riverton
Galena at Erie
Girls games begin at 6 p.m. with boy’s games following at approximately 7:30 p.m.