By Steve Robinson | January 16, 2007 - 1:41 am

Farmer CityCLINTON – A DeWitt County Circuit Court judge wants the city of Farmer City to give looking for the owner of an abandoned building one more try before he rules as to whether he’ll approve the city’s request to demolish it.

The structure has been and is in disrepair, abandoned, since the owner left town almost a decade ago.

DeWitt County Circuit Court Judge Stephen H. Peters did not grant the city a judicial deed for the property, located at 211 S. Main St., as city attorneys and City Manager David A. Joswiak had hoped.

Were the judge to have granted the judicial deed for the property, doing so would remove the rights of the property’s last owner, who abandoned the property, and would allow the city to own the property without there being a lien placed on it.

Peters’ decision, in essence, asks the city to continue trying to make contact with the building’s last known owner, Basri “Boz” Emini.

Joswiak said Emini had hoped to but never did open a planned restaurant in the building, which saw, among other things, a crafts shop and a TV & Appliance repair shop occupy it during the structure’s existence before Emini owned it.

Joswiak said the building is between 80 and 100 years old.

Although he could not give an exact date, Joswiak said the building, located in the middle of the city’s long two-block downtown business district. was damaged by fire “sometime in 1996 or 1997.”

Joswiak said the city plans to demolish the structure, which has walls and a roof that are both decaying from a combination of age and not being tended to. That has meant the city has had to step in with some repairs.

The city has already had to spend money to put plywood sheets on the roof of an adjacent building being used to by a local antique dealer to keep the decay of the vacant building from spreading to its currently-used neighbor.

In addition to paying for repairs, Joswiak said, the city has spent between $1,000-$1,500 in legal fees as a result of trying to get the matter resolved.

By the restaurant’s not being in operation at all for the last nine years, that has also meant the area’s taxing bodies have lost money, too. Joswiak estimates area taxing bodies did not see $3,000 in tax revenue, as well, during the same nine-year period.

The city will take up the matter again in Judge Peters’ courtroom on Feb. 21.

By Steve Robinson | - 1:33 am
Posted in Category: Pekin Daily Times, Sports

BasketballBLOOMINGTON – Tremont High’s boys’ basketball team managed to make a big deal out of their first round game at the 97th McLean County Basketball Tournament Tuesday.

The Turks recovered from a sluggish start to beat Ridgeview High, 75-51, before a crowd of 500 fans at Illinois Wesleyan’s Shirk Center. Head Coach Ron Martin’s team will take on the winner of the contest between GCMS from Gibson City and Fisher. Tip-off for that game is Thursday at 8p.m. at the Shirk Center. The winner of that game advances to the tournament title game Saturday night.

Although they jumped out to a 17-9 lead on the strength of baskets by senior center Jake Szetela, junior winger Michael Galat, and junior guard Jeremy Pflederer, some sagging defense on the Turks’ part allowed Ridgeview to climb back into the game.

As a result, Ridgeview scored six unanswered points as the first quarter closed, courtesy of baskets by senior guard Trevor Trhlik and junior center Casey Heimer, and two free throws by senior forward Josh Peterson, giving the Turks a narrow 17-16 lead to open the second quarter.

The Turks went on a 6-0 run to open the second quarter on three unanswered buckets by Szetela and two baskets by senior forward Michael Gibbons to increase the Turks’ lead to 23-16, with 6:06 left.

But starting with a trey by Mustangs’ senior guard Bradley Ghere to cut Tremont’s lead to 23-19, Ridgeview rattled off eight unanswered points, overtaking Tremont, 24-23, with three minutes until halftime.

IHSAA trey by Tremont senior guard Jim Kuban with 2:20 until half, would put the Turks up 29-26, propelling them toward their eventual 32-29 lead at intermission.

Two threes by junior guard Todd Cantrell, and one more each from Kuban and Pflederer, along with a tighter defense in the second half helped Tremont move toward creating a 54-39 deficit for Ridgeview as the fourth quarter started, and the Turks’ defense baffled Ridgeview into committing fouls, further increasing Tremont’s lead from the free throw line.

Four Turks players were in double-figures, led by Kuban with 15 points. He was followed by Szetela’s 14, and 13 each from Pflederer and senior guard Philip Schaefer. Ridgeview sophomore guard Bradley Ghere was the only Mustangs player in double-figures, scoring 11.

Tremont head coach Ron Martin said his team was not applying pressure to Ridgeview in the first half, but that that changed at the start of the third quarter.

“(In the first half), we weren’t making (Ridgeview) do anything that was uncomfortable,” Martin said. “(Ridgeview was) shooting wide-open threes. We weren’t challenging shots. But in the second half…our intensity…I thought we started to pick that (part of our game) up.

“When you put pressure on people, eventually, it’s going to wear them down,” he said.

By Steve Robinson | January 14, 2007 - 1:48 am
Posted in Category: Pekin Daily Times, Sports

BasketballBLOOMINGTON – Hartsburg-Emden surrendered a second quarter six-point lead, which led to the Stags being overtaken by Prairie Central, as the Hawks defeated the Stags, 65-62, in the last game of Saturday at the IBCA Central Illinois Shootout, held at the Shirk Center on the Illinois Wesleyan campus.

For Hartem head coach Josh Nauman, the game was “just ugly.” His post-game talk to his players lasted roughly 45 minutes.

Nauman continued: “Our guys come out and play hard the first few minutes of the game, and it seems like every time we get the jump on somebody like that, we let up.”

The Stags jumped out to a quick 8-0 run, thanks to two baskets and free throw by senior Josh Conrady, and deuces by senior Gary Rademaker, before Hawks junior Kevin Tarter scored his team’s first basket.

Rademaker hit the game’s first three with 2:29 left in the first to push the Stags up 13-6, before the Hawks soared back on the strength of back-to-back unanswered baskets by senior Philip Short to close the game to within three, 13-10, with 1:45 remaining.

The Stags fought off Prairie Central with a Rademaker trey just before the buzzer to go into the second half leading 18-12.

But after sinking a three to put Hartem up 23-14 with 6:20 left in the second quarter, Prairie Central junior Derek Severson scored 6 unanswered points, two of them from the free throw line, to close Hartem’s lead to 23-20 with 4:02 left in the period.

IHSAHawks junior Derek Keasinger trey with 3:25 left tied the game at 23-all. From there, the lead would change hands six times before Keasinger would close out the half by sinking two free throws with 5.5 seconds left to give Prairie Central a 32-31 halftime lead.

Hartem would have a brief 35-32 lead following another Rademaker three with 7:03 left in the third quarter. But Prairie Central responded with a 7-0 run, primarily on the strength of free throws due to Stag fouls, putting the Hawks up, 40-35 with 3:07 left in the third stanza. It was from there that Hartem would have to play catch-up just to keep pace, with the Hawks owning a 46-40 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Hartem would shrink Prairie Central’s lead to 52-50, with 5:23 left in the game, on two buckets by junior Dustin Bolen and one more from Dakin Bolen, before Prairie Central put the game out of reach, starting with a trey from senior Brett Crane at the 4:20 mark, putting the Hawks up, 55-52.

Hartem would close out the game in foul trouble, sending three separate Hawks players to the foul line to score the game’s last six points.

“We played great defense for the first four minutes, and we didn’t see that again until the last four minutes,” Nauman said.

“As soon as we get a lead like that, we lose our mentality of attacking (opponents) defensively and then, we just kind of want to coast through the rest of the game, and let up and for whatever reason, (our kids) think they can turn their aggressiveness on an off,” he said.

“One of these days, they’re going to learn they have to play with that toughness and aggressiveness through an entire game,” he said. “As soon as they do, we’ll be a pretty good team. But until they do, we’re not going to win too many.”

BasketballBLOOMINGTON – Stanford Olympia High head coach Gerry Thornton said he, recently, traveled an hour to a town northwest of Springfield to scout the team he thought the Spartans would play Saturday at the IBCA Central Illinois Shootout at Illinois Wesleyan’s Shirk Center.

But fearing impending bad weather, that team the Spartans were scheduled to face, A/C Central Virginia High, cancelled out on their appearance. Shootout organizers drafted Lewistown High’s junior varsity team to meet the Spartans’ varsity to fill the void. Still, Olympia had a fight on their hands, winning 59-48.

Olympia (5-10) jumped out to a quick 11-4 lead at the 3:39 mark to start the game, pushed along by a pair of deuces by sophomore Trevor Strubhar and a trey by sophomore Brady Cremeens. Lewistown JV pushed back with baskets by Brian Flaharty, Quinton Hatfill, and a deuce and trey by Scott Parrish, cutting Olympia’s lead to 17-13 to open the second quarter.

OlympiaAfter a Lewistown basket by Eric Shelby to cut Olympia’s lead to 17-5, the Spartans went on an 11-0 run, highlighted by baskets by sophomore Andy Lindgren, Colt Stroud, and Trevor Strubhar, capped by a trey by Cremeens. It was a scoring blitz that gave Oly a 31-19 edge at halftime.

Cremeens scored four threes in the third quarter, giving him 12 of his game-high 18 points on the day, increasing the Spartans’ lead to 51-30 going into the fourth quarter. Stroud was the only other Olympia player in double-figures, scoring 11.

Although Olympia led 51-32 going into the fourth quarter, Spartans’ fouls sent Hatfill, Parrish, and Curtis Black to the free throw line to go 6-for-7, closing the gap as the game wound down.

Thornton said the sudden change in opponent actually allowed him to get 13 different players in the game and to use the time on the court almost as a practice session for his players.

“(This game) actually gave us a chance to work on some things,” Thornton said. “We actually got the chance to play again some zone coverage, which we had not seen much of this year.”

Lewistown head coach Brad Hatfill coached the JV squad Saturday, and said it had been three weeks since the sophomores had taken to the court.

“I didn’t think our kids were too intimidated by (playing a varsity squad) here,” Hatfill said. “After all, they do it every day in practice. So they’re used to it.”

By Steve Robinson | January 13, 2007 - 1:50 am
Posted in Category: Normal West HS, The Normalite

BasketballNORMAL – A first quarter 18-0 run was a good starter for Normal West High School against Mattoon Friday night. It allowed the Wildcats to end the night with a 62-36 Big 12 Conference victory over the visiting Green Wave team.

Mattoon did jump to fast 4-1 lead following the opening tip, thanks to baskets by sophomore guard chase louthan and junior guard Trevor Buford. West junior forward Matthew Paska scored the lone point from the free throw line after being fouled.

But starting with Paska’s steal-turned-layup with 5:41 left in the first quarter, the Wildcats went on an 18-0 scoring binge, closing out the first period with a 19-6 lead.

West outscored Mattoon 9-4 in the first four minutes of the second quarter, with the Green Wave not finding double-digits until junior forward Austin M. Beason cut West’s lead to 28-10, with 3:50 to go until halftime.

West owned a commanding 35-14 lead at intermission.

Mattoon did manage a slight comeback in the third quarter, featuring threes from freshman guard jared p. dosien and Buford, but west ended the third quarter with a comfortable 44-24 lead.

Normal WestA pair of fourth quarter threes by Mattoon’s Buford, giving him a team-high 19 points, helped cut West’s lead to 51-36 with 4:25 left in the contest. After that, Cupples made defensive substitutions to help make sure the Wildcats would keep their double-digit lead.

Paska led West in scoring with 14 points. He was followed in double-figures by junior guard Javon Bell with 11 points and 10 from junior forward Guy Lang.

“We played well tonight,” West head coach Brian Cupples said, “(Mattoon head coach Robert) Lockart does a great job. I know they’ve struggled (being winless this season)…They do all the little things right.

The Mattoon game was the first they had played since playing in the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament in Pekin last month, so Cupples said he wanted to make sure they avoided any kind of letdown on the court. But in the end, he said, “I was pretty happy with the effort we had tonight.”

Lockart said that, all season, his team has had opponents mount scoring runs like West did in the first quarter.

“It is what it is,” Lockart said about having to spend most of the year playing from behind. “It’s not like (that) is new to our kids. We’re having to focus on (other aspects of our play), because teams in our league have been really putting it to us. So we are having to look at other areas that are positive.”

JV Win, Too: West’s Junior Varsity squad also had a good night, beating Mattoon prior to the varsity contest, 67-36.