Our professional staff of journalists reports on collegiate athletes. Why? Because as long as your favorite collegiate athletes are out strutting ther stuff, we believe you should know about it. Often, while these athletes are out pursuing athletic and academic excellence, their local newspapers may not have the resources to document those achievements.That doesn't stop us. We go the extra mile to contact the universities, coaches and athletes to bring you their stories. If you are interested in having your local college athletes appear on our website, please contact us via e-mail.

Marion County College Report

Andy Wolff: The McKendree Bearcats playmaker

Centralia resident Andy Wolff proves to the McKendree University Bearcat faithful how valuable he is game after game.

And with only six weeks to play until he ends his career, McKendree mentor Harry Statham hopes Wolff keeps on proving himself.

Since the start of the new year, McKendree has posted a record of 4-1 in the American Midwest Conference, most recently downing Harris-Stowe State University 79-67. Wolff was one of three McKendree athletes in double figures as he had one field goal and hit 8-of-10 from the charity stripe to finish with 10 points. The former Metro-East Lutheran star also had four assists and two boards.

"I have not been happy with my overall free-throw percentage this year, but I was on against HSSU," Wolff said. "I am hoping to pick it up in the second half of the season. Free throws are one of the things I want to improve. This season has not gone exactly as we wanted. We know to make the NAIA Nationals, we need to win the overall conference title or the conference tournament title. We may need both."

With the win over HSSU, McKendree leveled their overall mark at 10-10. Wolff has been one of two Bearcats players to start every game this year. His 572 minutes, an average of 28.6 minutes per game, is team high. Wolff has scored 178 points and pulled down 88 rebounds for respective averages of 8.9 and 4.4 per game.

In addition to his points scored and rebounds, he also has 85 assists, 31 steals and nine blocked shots. Wolff has hit over 50 percent of his shots this year, draining 69-of-134 field goals, which included seven treys. He also has half of his 66 free throws this year.

"Andy sets up our offense," coach Statham said. "He not only does that, but he pressures the other team's point guard and has done a great job defensively. In high school, we loved the way he saw the floor. That was one of the reasons we wanted him in a McKendree uniform."...

Matt Shaw, a former Centralia and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale basketball star, has found a new home as a professional player. He is currently averaging a team-leading 18.6 points per game for Ass. Academica de Coimbra, another professional team in Portugal.

In addition to his 198 points, he also has 92 rebounds (8.3 RPG), 36 assists, 15 steals and five blocked shots. The Shaw-led squad is 8-4 and currently third among LPB Teams. ...

Salem grad Dakota Tucker, a 6-foot-4 junior forward for Blackburn College, is averaging 11.1 points per game through the first 15 games. Tucker has 166 points, 70 rebounds (4.7 RPG), 11 assists, seven blocked shots and five steals. Tucker has drained 57-of-143 field goals and 15-of-23 free throws, and has hit 37 three-pointers this year. Blackburn has struggled, however. They are 2-13 overall and 0-7 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. ...

Centralia grad Carlton Westbrook has stared every game for Missouri University of Science and Technology this year. The former Lincoln Land player averages 21.5 minutes per game and has hit 45-of-99 from the field and 37-of-53 free throws for 133 points. The 5-11 junior is averaging 8.3 points per game and has 28 assists, 23 rebounds and 12 steals. Missouri University of Science and Technology, formerly the University of Missouri-Rolla, is 6-10 overall and 2-7 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. ...

Women's Basketball

Salem grad Ellen Young, a Southern Indiana senior, has helped the Screaming Eagles post a 10-7 mark thus far and a 6-3 record in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Young, a 5-5 guard, has 248 points and 93 rebounds for respective averages of 14.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

She leads the team in points scored and points per game. She also has 32 assists and 22 steals. Young has hit 89-of-216 field goals and 43-of-60 from the stripe, adding 27 strikes from beyond the 3-point arc. Young has played in 17 games and made 15 starts. …

Young has some Salem company on the USI team. Fellow Salem grad Stephanie Carpenter, who is a UIS freshman guard, has averaged 6.4 minutes per game over 16 games. She has scored 36 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Nine of her field goals have been from beyond the arc as she has hit 9-of-21 from beyond the 3-point line. ...

Dominican University is quickly closing in on the Northern Athletics Conference-South Division title. The Stars are 13-3 overall and 8-1 in the league. Former Centralia player Danielle Miller, a Dominican junior, has started 14 games and is averaging 19.8 minutes per game. She has 81 points, 76 rebounds, 14 steals, 11 assists and nine blocked shots. She has scored her points by hitting 34-of-65 field goals and 13-of-27 free throws. ...

Indoor track

Travis Lavin, a Centralia grad and McKendree junior, finished 11th in the 3,000-meter run at the Southern Illinois-Carbondale hosted Saluki Open. Lavin finished the race in 9-minutes, 3.53-seconds. Team scores were not kept. ...

Message from Daniel L. Chamness

Sometimes you don't get what you want, but you get what you need. The line from the a Rolling Stone song might perfectly describe what is going on with this column.

I was determined to not start this column unless we have 15 sponsors. We do not have 15 sponsors, but we are very close. There are a few businesses that decided to sponsor the column, but for various reasons, did not want their name of their business posted. In short they chose to become a silent sponsor so the this column could continue.

There are a couple of site changes that bear mentioning. First, the focus of this column is for the next 20 weeks will be Centralia. Meaning, with rare exceptions, we will always lead with an athlete that is either from Centralia High School or is a resident of Centralia.

We had goals when we started to get sponsors this year. I met those goals in Centralia, but nowhere else in the county. Therefore, it is not hard to understand the focus of the column will be on the athletes, whose businesses have thrown their support behind this.

If anyone has a problem with this, I would tell them to encourage their local businesses to support this endeavor. They should not contact me and scream that what I am doing is not fair. It is simply a case of one town should not pay to read about the accomplishments of athletes from another town.

Secondly, this column, or at least the lead, will appear weekly in the Marion County Observer. The rest of the article will be available online on this website. I am happy to provide this service for the Observer.

Finally, if anyone wants to add a name to my growing list, please e-mail me (Dan62801@aol.com). I will need the name of the athlete, the former high school, the college/university they are attending and of course, the sport they are playing. The only two rules to be included in this column is the athlete has to be a Marion County resident or a graduate of Centralia, Salem, Sandoval, Odin or Patoka. They also have to be involved in intercollegiate athletics, meaning their school plays other schools. We will have a full list of sponsors next time this article runs.

Daniel L. Chamness