Preliminary trials begin in Feb.’s Meridian brawl cases

Court proceedings have begun for many arrested in the Feb. 20 brawl during the regional tournament at Meridian High School.

Preliminary hearings began July 10 at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Mound City. Pulaski County state’s attorney Grayson Gile said for the last 4 months his office has been reviewing video footage of the incident provided by Meridian High School and going over eyewitness testimonies. Gile said after reviewing the tape, he has been able to get several strong visual identifications.

“I’ve got several of what might be referred to as ‘Sports Illustrated’ shots,”  Gile said referring to the clarity of some of the images he has been able to pull from video footage.

Not all the identifications have been this clear, though. Gile said he has had to postpone approximately one third of the cases so his office can gather more evidence. Gile said he wants to err on the side of caution and have more evidence than he needs before going to court.

“I do not want to go out there and make allegations to try to put forward a case if there is not sufficient evidence,” he said.

In May, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office released a list of the twelve individuals arrested. They were: Bruce Woodson, of Cairo, Cameron Robinson of Cairo, Cordell Johnson, of Cairo, Darian Engram of Mound City, Darmez Nelson of Ullin, Darryl Jackson, of Cairo, Dejhanane Washington of Cairo, Jemond Pilgram, of Mounds, Kathryn Nesby, of Mounds, Richard Steele, of Mounds and Wilmont Gibson Jr. of Cairo. A juvenile was also arrested.

All 12 suspects were charged with reckless conduct. In the state of Illinois, reckless conduct can either be a class 1 misdemeanor or a class 4 felony.

–Isaac Smith can be reached at (618)-734-4242

Camp teaches more than skills on the court

Brian Branter hopes to pass on more than basketball skills with his summer camp.

Cairo High School basketball coach Brian Brantner, middle, addresses camp goers June 14 at Cairo High School during his two week summer basketball camp. Brantner said  the camp was an opportunity to talk about life lessons with kids. “Basketball a lot of times is a metaphor for life,” he said. He worked with students from grades 3-8 during the camp and hopes to host a second two week session at the end of the summer but has not finalized the details. – Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Cairo High School basketball coach Brian Brantner, middle, addresses camp goers June 14 at Cairo High School during his two week summer basketball camp. Brantner said the camp was an opportunity to talk about life lessons with kids. “Basketball a lot of times is a metaphor for life,” he said. He worked with students from grades 3-8 during the camp and hopes to host a second two week session at the end of the summer but has not finalized the details. – Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

Local hoopster hosts charity tournament

More than 60 basketball players from the area converged at Meridian Elementary School June 1 and 2 for the 1st Annual Bobcat Hoopfest.

Eight teams played games all day June 1 and into the night on the 2nd, with the Championship game started at 8:30 p.m.

The final game of the tournament showcased the red team against the blue team. The red team had local players such as Isiah Jones, RJ Williams, DJ Weldon, Jared Staples, and former SIU player Nick Evans.

Darius Brown, formerly of Cairo, also played for the red team. Brown will join Josh “Joddy” Jones at Odessa College in the fall.

The blue team had players from outside the Pulaski County area but had several talented high school athletes.

The Kissing Brothers from Crab Orchard High School were three big players for the blue team. The three brothers each scored over 1,500 points in their high school careers. Youngest brother Ben scored over 2,300 and has the school record for points at Crab Orchard.

After 40 minutes of competitive play, the red team came away with the victory 49-45.

Red teams Ben Kissing led both teams in scoring with 28 in the final but his older brother Ray was the talk of the tournament.

The blue team rallied behind their leading scorer Isaih Jones who had 12. Nick Evans had 11 while DJ Weldon had back to back three point baskets to finish with 6.

A bigger story than the championship was the condition of the playing surface. It was very wet. Players fell countless time and luckily no one came away with any injuries. The location of the tournament and the playing surface could be a concern in the coming years of the Bobcat Hoopfest.

There were many more memorable performances from the weekend; Josh Jones had 33 points and 13 rebounds in a game for his team.

The money raised from the tournament will go to the Meridian Elementary school to purchase new athletic uniforms.

This was a tournament that was run well and will continue to be a success for many years to come. Congratulations to all the teams that participated in this competitive tournament. 

–Tyler Dixon can be reached at (618)-734-4242

Senior bobcats’ last ride

Meridian senior catcher Jammerio Moore, right, attempts to make an out May 18 during the regional championship against the Shawnee Redskins at Shawnee High School. The Bobcats lost  the game in the 5th inning with a score of 10-0. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Meridian senior catcher Jammerio Moore, right, attempts to make an out May 18 during the regional championship against the Shawnee Redskins at Shawnee High School. The Bobcats lost the game in the 5th inning with a score of 10-0. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

It was an emotional roller coaster for the senior Meridian Bobcats May 18. The players went from the excitement of graduation at 10 that morning,  to having their season ended by the mercy rule at the hand of perennial power Shawnee High School by four.

The Shawnee Redskins beat the Bobcats in 5 innings by a score of 10-0.

Redskins senior Adam Pennington threw a 1 hit shutout with the assistance of junior Aiden McMahon.

DJ Weldon had the lone Bobcat hit, a 2 out double down the 3rd base line in the second inning.

Connor Schaal picked up the loss for the Bobcats.

The defensive player of the game was Meridian senior center fielder Wyatt Isom. Isom threw out runners attempting to score on 2 different occasions in the 3rd inning. Senior catcher Jammerio Moore was able to catch the ball and have to presence of mind to know where he was in relation to the runner to make the tag.

Next season will be a rebuilding year for the Bobcats with many key starters graduating. Only 5 underclassmen had significant playing time this season.

— Tyler Dixon can be reached at (618)-734-4242

Century softball falls in regional final

The Lady Centurions were shut out by the Dongola Lady Demons 3-0 May 18 in the Regional Championship at Century High School.

It was a tough day for Century as they were only able to get 5 hits against as Dongola.

The Lady Demons scored their first run in the 2nd inning and didn’t look back.

Every time the Lady Centurions hit the ball hard, it went directly to a Dongola fielder. The Dongola pitcher also didn’t allow a walk.

Century senior Natalie Hubbard had 2 singles on a day where it seemed nothing could go the Lady Centurions way at the plate.

The future looks bright for both the Century softball teams as they will have a good portion of their players returning next season.

–Tyler Dixon can be reached at (618)-734-4242

Pirates slash Centurions

The Pope County Pirates took down the Century Centurions on May. 16 7-5 in the semi-finals of the Class 1A Regional Tournament at Pope County.

Century gave it everything they had but were depleted by injuries and sickness and could not find a way to score after the 2nd inning.

The Pirates found a way to get the bases loaded in the top of the 1st but were only able to scrap together one run.

Sophomore pitcher Caden Hight found his rhythm after allowing the run. Hight struck out three to end the 1st.

The Centurions got their bats going quickly in the bottom of the 1st frame scoring 4 runs on only 2 hits but forced Pope County defense to commit 3 errors in the inning.

Both teams added a run in the 2nd putting the score at 5-2 in favor of Century after 2 innings.

Pope County found a spark in the 4th inning with their number 9 batter getting a 1 out single. The Pirates went tacked on 4 runs in the inning to lead 6-5 going into the 5th inning.

Aaron Jones came on in relief in the 6th inning after Caden Hight had a solid outing with one rough inning. Hight had 7 strikeouts in 6 innings.

The Pirates found another run in the top of the 7th; they held a 7-5 lead going into the bottom of the inning.

After a 2 out single by Aaron Jones, the Centurions couldn’t extend the game and fell 7-5.

Jones and Cordon Hight each had 2 hits for Century in the loss.

Century will be a regional and conference favorite next season after only losing two starting seniors this season. They are two pieces that Century head coach Garret Wilson will have to replace.

Brandon Jackson started the most games at pitcher and was solid at the plate for the Centurions while Cordon Hight added pop to the line-up and was a leader on and off the field to this young squad.

— Tyler Dixon can be reached at (618)-734-4242

The Week in Photos: May 16, 2013

The visual report from the week of May 16, 2013.

Angela Thomas, right, shares a tearful hug with her son Eric Dent after he his graduation ceremony May 10 at Egyptian High School. Dent said he plans to attend Shawnee Community College and hopes to play basketball. Dent graduated with 30 of his fellow seniors. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Angela Thomas, right, shares a tearful hug with her son Eric Dent after he his graduation ceremony May 10 at Egyptian High School. Dent said he plans to attend Shawnee Community College and hopes to play basketball. Dent graduated with 30 of his fellow seniors. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Lacey Hacker, left, waits for her friend Jade Yates to put on her gown just before graduation May 10 at Century High School. Hacker and Yates were among the first of Century’s 20 graduates to arrive for the ceremony. Yates said she has plans to attend Shawnee Community College to get her associate degree. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Lacey Hacker, left, waits for her friend Jade Yates to put on her gown just before graduation May 10 at Century High School. Hacker and Yates were among the first of Century’s 20 graduates to arrive for the ceremony. Yates said she has plans to attend Shawnee Community College to get her associate degree. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Danny Kohn, left, insists the held of Century High School teacher’s aid Michelle Nale to fasten his tassel to his cap May 10 before Century’s graduation ceremony. Kohn said he plans to attend Shawnee Community College before transferring to SIU where he hopes to get a degree in international studies. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Danny Kohn, left, insists the held of Century High School teacher’s aid Michelle Nale to fasten his tassel to his cap May 10 before Century’s graduation ceremony. Kohn said he plans to attend Shawnee Community College before transferring to SIU where he hopes to get a degree in international studies. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Cairo Pilots third baseman Lorenzo Nelson just misses tagging out an opponent May 13 during the Pilot’s regional loss against the Dongola Demons. The Pilots lost 25-3. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Cairo Pilots third baseman Lorenzo Nelson just misses tagging out an opponent May 13 during the Pilot’s regional loss against the Dongola Demons. The Pilots lost 25-3. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Kylee Wright, of Charleson, looks out the window of the Airbrush Dreamz trailer May 9 in Cairo. Derik Davis, Wright’s mother’s boyfriend, sells airbrushed clothing and accessories out of the trailer. Davis said he primarily sets up shop at carnivals and festivals but said he does come to sell his wares in towns like Cairo from time to time. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Kylee Wright, of Charleson, looks out the window of the Airbrush Dreamz trailer May 9 in Cairo. Derik Davis, Wright’s mother’s boyfriend, sells airbrushed clothing and accessories out of the trailer. Davis said he primarily sets up shop at carnivals and festivals but said he does come to sell his wares in towns like Cairo from time to time. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

Pilots fall in regional quarterfinal

Cairo Pilots third baseman Lorenzo Nelson just misses tagging out an opponent May 13 during the Pilot’s regional loss against the Dongola Demons. The Pilots lost 25-3. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Cairo Pilots third baseman Lorenzo Nelson just misses tagging out an opponent May 13 during the Pilot’s regional loss against the Dongola Demons. The Pilots lost 25-3. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

The Cairo Pilots lost to the Dongola Demons 23-5 in the opening game of the Shawnee High School regional.

Cairo fell early and gave up 2 runs in the top of the 1st.

Speedy Johnson did his best to spark a rally with a lead-off home run to left field in the bottom of the 1st that put the Pilot faithful into a frenzy.

The Demon batters then came on in full force scoring in bunches.

Bryce Gardner and Johnson each scored 2 runs for the Pilots. Gardner also had a key defensive play in the early innings.

With 1 out in the top of the 1st, a Dongola runner tried to take up after a sacrifice fly but Gardner threw the runner out at home from center field.

It was an up and down season for the Pilots and they tried to end it on a high note but fell short.

Cairo has only a few seniors graduating and next year could be bright for this team as they have some key players coming up from the junior high ranks, such as D’Erick Menz.

–Tyler Dixon can be reached at (618)-734-4242

Centurions finish 18-6

The Century Centurions finished the final week of the regular season at 3-2, leaving them at 18-6 for the season.

Century started the season on a hot streak but has had a couple rough games in the past few weeks.

This week Century picked up wins against Carrier Mills, Crab Orchard, and Ziegler-Royalton and had losses against Shawnee and Herrin.

The Shawnee loss was tough for the Centurions because if they would have won, then the SEC Conference Championship would have been theirs.

Despite taking the loss against Shawnee, Brandon Jackson had six hits at the plate and added a home-run last week. He also picked up the win against Ziegler-Royalton.

Zach Sauerbrunn and Brad Wilson each had 4 hits in the 5 games.

The main goal for Century in preparing for regionals is getting players healthy and getting them in the right state of mind. Century is one of the younger teams around with Brandon Jackson and Cordon Hight as the lone starting seniors.

Century’s regional kicks off on May. 16 against Pope County at Pope County. Game-time is at 4:30 p.m.

–Tyler Dixon can be reached at (618)-734-4242

Pilots take honors at state track meet

Track coach Bernard Brown, right, poses for a portrait with the elementary and junior high school boys track team.
Track coach Bernard Brown, right, poses for a portrait with the elementary and junior high school boys track team.
Track coach Regina Brown, third from the right, back row, poses for a portrait with the elementary and junior high school girls track team.
Track coach Regina Brown, third from the right, back row, poses for a portrait with the elementary and junior high school girls track team.

Junior High students from Cairo, Meridian, and Century represented the area in the boys and girls 2013 class S state Track Meet.

The Cairo Girls team finished in a tie for 4th in the 4x100m Relay.

In the girls 4x200m varsity relay, Cairo finished 4th while Meridian finished 6th.

Cairo had two girls finish in the top 8 of the 7th grade 100 meter dash. Tiana Tucker finished 6th while Ariel Collier finished 7th.

Meridian 6th grader Daniel Oats won the 100 meter dash in the 7th grade division with a time of 12.91 seconds.

The Bobcats also finished 7th in the 7th grade 4x200M relay with a time of 1.54.19.

Meridian 8th grader Rachel Valentine finished 8th in the long jump with a jump of 13’04.00”

–Tyler Dixon can be reached at (618)-734-4242