Teutopolis Boys State Qualifiers Through The Years


Published on January 5 2021 7:19 am
Last Updated on March 25 2021 12:30 pm
Written by Millie Lange

Former Teutopolis High School boys basketball coach Ken Crawford had quite a resume when he left Wooden Shoe territory.

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Coach Ken Crawford (left) with Coaches Lawrence Carie (left) and Jason Hanson (center) in 2017

He finished his 26-year career at T-town with 612 victories and 150 losses. His teams won a regional 12 times, a sectional seven times, and qualified for state six times, winning once, finishing second once, and third once.

In an article that appeared on our website Tuesday, December 29, Crawford talked about the 1985-86 team that won the state title. This time around, he's discussing the rest of his teams, his managers, and statisticians and where he and his family have gone since he exited the Teutopolis basketball scene after the 2006-07 season.

"Each team we had was a part of the bigger picture which was the program," said Crawford. "Although it is beyond the scope of this report to go into depth about every team from 1981-82 through 2006-07, each team made its own contribution to the rich tradition of the program, and every one of those teams and players deserves the same recognition that the 1986 state championship team received. 

"I will speak of those that were fortunate to have won sectionals and will do so briefly.  It should be said that the bounce of the ball in one direction or another, the right officials' call at the right time, the right decision made at the right time by myself, the luck of the draw, and many other factors could have come into play and could have sent a number of our teams to the winners circle at the IHSA state basketball tournament including to the ones that were fortunate enough to win a sectional in the two-class system and have the opportunity to play in the super-sectional and possibly the state tournament finals in either Champaign or Peoria.  It is only for the sake of brevity that I do not go into detail about each of these teams.

"Our second team to reach the super-sectional came in 1988. They faced a tough foe in the regional final and then Lawrenceville, another tough team in the final game of the sectional. In the super-sectional at Charleston, they faced St. Elmo who was coached by IBCA Hall of Fame coach Dan Denton. This was the third time meeting them during the season. We split with them during the regular season but they picked up the win at Charleston and went on to win fourth at the state tournament. The 87-88 varsity team consisted of Kent Sandschafer, Ted Deters, Roch Hoedebecke, Kent Niebrugge, Jeff Thompson, Mike Kroeger, Dave Pruemer, Tom Breer, Duane Deters, Brad Hardiek, Paul Hardiek, Doug Walk, Cory Wermert, and Craig Funneman.  

"The ’93-94 team was undefeated and the third team to reach the super-sectional after beating a highly talented and well-coached team from Louisville in the Dieterich regional final. That team was coached by IBCA Hall of Fame coach Ron Reed. They then beat Flora and Lawrenceville in the sectional. They faced a very talented Belleville Althoff for the second time in the season and survived that test. We then played a highly talented and well-coached team in the quarterfinal game at Champaign.

"Pinckneyville was coached by IBCA Hall of Fame and long-time P’ville coach in Dick Corn. The Panthers had only lost one game and that was to a Carbondale team that reached the Elite 8 in Class AA that year. The game was an exceptionally physical game from start to finish and Pinckneyville pulled out a one-point victory and went on to win the state championship. The members of that team were Chad Buehnerkemper, Brent Niebrugge who went on to play in a starting role on the 1997 Illinois Wesleyan NCAA Division III National Championship team, Joe Gier, Mike Horn, Darryn Niebrugge, Eric Swingler, Matt Esker, Jay Koester, Rich Niebrugge, Scott Niebrugge, Matt Ordner, Chris Probst, Paul Ruholl, and Cory Tegeler.  

"The fourth team to reach the super-sectional was the 1997-98 squad. They beat a highly talented Effingham St. Anthony team in the Dieterich Regional final game. They then went on to beat two excellent teams in the sectional tournament. The Charleston super-sectional was a real test when they faced an excellent South Central team coached by one of the greats and also an IBCA Hall of Fame coach, Gary Shirley. South Central had a very talented and balanced team led by 6-10 Matt Laur who went on to be the all-time career leading scorer at McKendree College. Our team played a great game and won by a 22 point margin.

"They then played the undefeated and number one ranked team in the state, Spring Valley Hall that had reached the finals the previous year. They were led by Shawn Jepson who was quoted after the game saying “I have never been guarded like that in my entire basketball career”. The team played a great game and there were several lead changes before Spring Valley pulled out a close victory. Members of that team were Josh Esker, John Niebrugge, Nick Brummer, Brian Esker, Derrick Gaddis, Jason Herboth, Steve Mette, Doug Probst, Brad Schmidt, Paul Willenborg, Mitch Koester, and Johnny King.  

"The fifth team to reach the super-sectional was the 1999-2000 team. Earlier in the year, that team had beaten an excellent Mount Zion team on a last second shot by Jon Tipton in the Charleston Holiday Tournament. They beat a good St. Anthony team in the St. Anthony Regional final game then demolished a good Paris team in the opening game of the Bridgeport Sectional. In the final game of the sectional, we faced a well-coached and talented Newton team that was coached by another of the great area coaches, Doug Mammoser. The game was a slugfest from start to finish with neither team getting more than a two or three point advantage. The game went to overtime and we got the tip and gave it to Nick Swingler who stood near the centerline and held the ball for three minutes and 50 seconds of a four minute overtime while Newton stayed in their 2-1-2 zone. 

"Assistant coach, Rob Smith, was in my ear from the 3:20 mark on to call a timeout until I informed him that I had no intention of calling a timeout because I was confident that our players knew exactly what we wanted to do in that situation. (not exactly the words I used). At the 3:50 mark, Nick handed the ball off to Mitch Koester and we went into the 1-4 set we had utilized at the end of every quarter for the entire season. Mitch drove the ball at Johnny King and handed off the ball to him as he curled to the basket and was fouled on the floor before he could get the shot off. 

"After some fan disturbance which resulted in a water bottle being thrown on the floor and the cleanup process, Johnny calmly hit both ends of a one-and-one. The game was not quite over as Meinhart, a tremendous player for Newton, narrowly missed a three-quarter court shot at the buzzer and we escaped with a two-point overtime victory. We went on to play Nashville in the quarterfinals and beat them in overtime. We faced a very good Bureau team, coached by 1986 Ohio High School standout, Brad Bickett, in the semifinals and played a great game to reach the state championship game.

"We faced a very talented and athletic team from Pleasant Plains after they had survived a double or triple overtime game against their arch rival, Riverton, in the semifinals. We played hard but in the end Plains pulled away and won the game. After the game the team was really disappointed but we told them while you may lose the championship game you actually won second place in the IHSA state playoff series. Members of that team were: Mitch Koester, Johnny King, Andrew Gobczynski, Todd Thoele, John Tipton, Andy Mette, John Repking, Nick Swingler, Eric Bloemer, Ted Hoene, Aaron Niebrugge, and Jeff Probst

"The sixth team to reach the super-sectional was the 2005-06 squad. That team shot the lights out in the regional final against Casey than went on to win hard-fought games against excellent Olney and Vandalia teams. They then met an outstanding Nokomis team in the Charleston Super-sectional. Nokomis was coached by long-time coach, Steve Kimbro, who just recently retired as one of the winningest coaches in IHSA basketball history and is also a IBCA Hall of Fame coach.

"The team played very well against the Nokomis highly-regarded ball press and defended and rebounded very well to pull out a close victory. They then got to face Seneca, a team that was undefeated and ranked #1 in the state. Seneca had finished second the previous year with basically the same players. Even though they were huge underdogs, the team played a great game and led a good portion of the contest. Seneca did rally in the last four minutes of the game to pull out a close victory. Seneca went on to win the state championship with an undefeated record. They were the first team since the 1986 Teutopolis Wooden Shoe team to win the tournament with an undefeated season.

"Our team had a talented group of juniors that were led by a talented and determined group of seniors. That group of seniors started with only eight freshmen four years earlier which was a really low turnout for our freshman team and four of those players stayed out all four years and started on the varsity their senior year. A testament to their determination lies in the fact that they only won 60 to 70 percent of their eighth-grade games but continued to improve dramatically throughout their high school career. Members of that varsity team were Matt Crawford, Dustin Ruholl, Kyle Ruholl, Lee Zerrusen, Rich Borries, Wade Koester, Jason Runde, Andy Tipton, Craig Westendorf and Dustin Pals. 

"The seventh and my final team to reach the super-sectional in my final year as a varsity basketball coach was the 2006-2007 team. That team won the Charleston Holiday Tournament by beating Edwardsville who was coached by the long-time coach and hall of famer, Mike Waldo. We actually led by 27 points going into the final quarter of the game and held on for a 14 point win. We then beat a Palestine-Hutsonville team in the regional final to advance to the sectional. In one of the toughest sectionals in the state we survived an overtime game with Vandalia in the opening round of play in front of a sellout crowd at Paris.

"We then played a loaded Effingham St. Anthony team that was coached by Mike Wilson. It was a tight game and St. Anthony held a slim lead but they ran into problems in the last minute of the game which gave us an opportunity to score and take a slim lead. They got the ball and had to travel the length of the court in three to four seconds. Despite having a tremendous defensive team, we had a total defensive breakdown on their well-designed play and gave their best outside shooter a wide open look at the basket for a three-point shot that would have won the game for St. Anthony. Fortunately for us it was a miss and we moved on to Charleston.

"We faced a good Central A & M team but we played a great game from start to finish and won by a handy margin. Once again we faced the undefeated and number one ranked team in the state in the Nashville Hornets who were coached by Darrin Lee, an excellent coach, who is now the varsity coach at Collinsville. Nashville had beaten us handily in the Riverton shootout a month earlier and we were the big underdog going into the contest. Nashville had a great team, led by Lucas O’Rear, who would go on to lead Northern Iowa to a great run in the NCAA tournament his senior year. They had great size and strength and had great outside shooters.

"We changed things up defensively from the first time we faced them and the boys simply played one of the finest games defensively of my career. We had Andy Tipton front O’Rear who had four or five inches on him and about 60 pounds. Lucas threw Andy around like a rag doll but Andy held tough and stayed in front of him while we brought a double team from the backside baseline. That gave them wide open looks from three-point range from the corner and low wing. It was a gamble but Carver Arena in Peoria can be a very difficult place to shoot from the outside so our gamble paid off and we scored a huge upset.

"We then faced a determined Maroa team which was led by Robert Krepps in the semifinals. Robert’s dad, Dave Krepps had been the varsity coach at Effingham in the early 1990’s after Jim Maxedon retired. Robert was operated on earlier in the week for appendicitis but you could not tell it by the way he played in that game. We had a lead until late in the third quarter when things began to get close. The game went to a double overtime and we ended up on the losing end after playing in a very hard and well-played game. Robert Krepps went on to have a great four year career at the University of Illinois-Chicago under long time coach Jimmy Collins.   

"We then faced Farmington in a near sellout crowd for the third place game. Both our fans and the Farmington fans were really into that game. They were coached by IBCA Hall of Fame coach, Tom Wierzba, who was a good friend of mine. We were both retiring at the end of the academic year and were coaching the final game of our careers. They had an excellent team but we prevailed in the end and our boys sent me out on a winning note in my final game as a varsity coach. There is talk of doing away with the third place game but I hope it never happens as a team that makes the final four should get to play either in the championship game or the third place game. For those who think that game means nothing, I can tell them that they must have never played or coached in one of those games.  

"Maroa went on to win the state championship game beating a really good North Lawndale team.  

"Players on the 2006-07 team were Rich Borries, Wade Koester, Jason Runde, Andy Tipton, Craig Westendorf, Mitchel Bothwell, Jacob Deters, Brian Haskenherm, John Runde, Jeremy Schumacher, and Tony Zerrusen. 

"In the six teams that we took to either Peoria or Champaign we won one championship, finished second in another, were beaten by the eventual state championship team in the semifinal game and won the third place game in another, and were beaten in the quarterfinal game twice by the eventual state champions. The boys proved they belonged in the tournament each year.  Thank you to all of our fans, players, managers, and assistant coaches for the wonderful memories."

Coach Crawford commented on the statisticians, managers and film crews he had throughout his years at T-town.

"These young people served our program with dignity and dedication and deserve a great deal of credit for any success we enjoyed as a team and a program," said Crawford. "I certainly hope I don’t leave anyone out but if I did, blame it on my memory and poor research effort.  I always told my players to show respect for each of these personnel. They were not the players personal servants and I had better not catch a player asking them to refill a water bottle or mistreat them in any way. The players were told to treat them like they were coaches because I could always find another player but I could not find another manager.

"Those who served in these roles through the years were: Paul Rhodes, Carl Hoelscher, Tim Baker, Kenny Hill, Tony Meyer, Rob Fisher, Marty Siemer, Christy Westjohn, Todd Burrell, Andy Meyer, Brad Koester, John Grunloh, Steve Fearday, Dave Zerrusen, Tom Hardiek, Jake Burrell, Mike Abell, Scott Drees, Mike Zerrusen, Bernie Bierman, Jason Grunloh, Sean Zerrusen, Justin Deters, Dominic Deters, Jim Yantis, Alan Probst, Joe Crawford, Lyle Jansen, Joe Repking, Eric Parker, David Grunloh, Brian Schmidt, Darren Zerrusen, Chad Jansen, and Clay Zerrusen.

"I would also like to give credit to our junior high coaches who worked hard to develop our grade school players and many times sacrificed winning in order to teach the fundamentals of the game. Men who served in that capacity during my career were Dave Julius, Mick Deters, Dan Niemerg, Kent Niebrugge, and Doug Smith. Kent and Doug still remain in their coaching roles at Teutopolis Jr. High.  

"Concerning my high school assistant coaches I worked with through the years, the only thing I asked of them was hard work and loyalty. I am pleased to say that each of these individuals fulfilled these tasks. I did not expect for them to agree with me on everything and I encouraged independent thought as long as it was understood that the final decision had to be made by me, nothing was personal, and loyalty ran both ways. I also welcomed their friendship and they responded in a positive manner. 

"Our junior varsity coach always served as the varsity assistant as well as did the freshman-sophomore coach. Larry Johnson was my first JV coach upon my arrival and Ron Kautzner was the freshman-sophomore coach. Ron had coached year-round with baseball and basketball for a number of years and wanted to get out of basketball after one year. Scott Thomas had been coaching the younger players in our outlying schools and welcomed the invitation to become our freshman-sophomore coach to fill Ron’s vacancy.

"I have mentioned that Larry was a close personal friend and what a great coach he was. His health declined and he had to retire from coaching during the 1988-89 season. Scott was and remains a close personal friend and he had a phenomenal basketball mind. He was very positive, highly competitive, and was one of the best scouts I ever saw. After a few successful years with us he moved on to Sullivan where he completely turned the girls program there around and in a short period of time had made two trips to the state finals and won one state championship. He was a wonderful coach before retiring and going into private business. There would be no state championship in 1986 without the help of Scott and Larry and I could not have had two better friends and colleagues.

"Other assistants who were either freshman-sophomore coaches, JV-varsity assistants, or both were as follows: Rod Grimsley, Jeff Thompson, Bob Zerrusen, Wally Thompson, Rob Smith, John Young, Andy Fehrenbacher, Kent Niebrugge, Rich Probst, Todd Thoele and Justin Fleener.

"Rod came in as a freshman-sophomore coach and moved into the JV position when Larry retired. For a time he held down both positions as the only coaches on staff were he and I. Rod had and still has a phenomenal understanding of the game. He and I argued a lot but it was always done in a respectful and loyal manner and I welcomed his input. When he strongly disagreed with me, he would say, “its your record” to which I would usually reply with a few deleted expletives.  After leaving Teutopolis he went on to coach varsity basketball a number of years quite successfully at AC Central and Athens High Schools. He eventually went into school administration and retired as a school superintendent.  We still communicate and get together as often as possible as I still consider him as one of my closest friends. 

"Jeff Thompson, Bob Zerrusen, and Kent Niebrugge played here and returned in the role of freshman-sophomore coaches for short periods of time. All three still live in the area. Bob entered the business field. Jeff coached at Dieterich and Newton for a while then went into school administration and has been quite successful in that role. Kent still serves as the eighth-grade coach at TJHS. These three men left their mark on the program both as players and coaches.  

"Wally Thompson was an outstanding player at Cowden Herrick and he coached our freshman-sophomore team for one year then entered the business field. He helped the program a great deal in his year with us.

"Rob Smith came in as a fresh-soph coach and moved into the JV-varsity assistant role. Rob did a wonderful job and eventually moved into head coaching varsity basketball positions at Sullivan, Niantic-Harristown, and currently coaches at Central A & M. He took two teams from A and M to the Carbondale Super-sectional in 2018 and 2020. He and I still communicate on a regular basis and I value his friendship and admire his success.

"Todd Thoele came back for a couple of years as our freshman-sophomore coach.  He was an outstanding leader and player for us in 2000 and did a great job with our young players when he returned as their coach. He now has a wife and child so he is very busy and I do not get to see him very often but I still value his loyalty and friendship. He now works for the Effingham school district.

"Rich Probst was a successful, competitive, and hard-nosed player for us who returned as a freshman-sophomore coach after graduating with a BS from Notre Dame and then obtaining an MS in Business Administration from the University of Illinois. He passed his qualities as a player on to his freshman and sophomore players. Rich has a great mind for the game and is an excellent scout and is great at game preparation. He is now in business in the area and I still see and communicate with him as often as possible.  

"Andy Fehrenbacher came into our program as a student-teacher then was hired as a teacher and freshman-sophomore coach then became the JV-varsity coach. Andy was a tireless worker with a great mind for the game and was extremely loyal to me and the program. With Andy and Rich as my assistants for the last few years I coached, I had more fun than a barrel of monkeys and enjoyed more success than I deserved. They were great assistants and we always said that no coaching staff had more fun than we did both on and off the court.  

"Andy took over the program after I retired and was very successful in that role. After about eight years he moved to Salem and took over a program that had not been very successful for a number of years. He has totally turned that program around. They now play very hard and are fundamentally sound on both ends of the floor. We still communicate on a regular basis and get together whenever we can. Before Covid hit, I was regular at many of his games and enjoyed every minute of it.  

"My last year, Justin Fleener came on staff and helped with our freshman-sophomore teams and was a welcome addition to the staff. He has great way with kids and is very competitive. He eventually went on to be an assistant in the girls’ basketball program. He is our varsity baseball coach and has developed the program into one that is recognized throughout the state as one of the strongest programs in the state. I admire his knowledge, enthusiasm, integrity, and competitive spirit.  In addition, he is a great role model for our students and players and he demands discipline from his players."
Where are Crawford, wife Patty and children, Joe, Katie and Matt at now?

"My wife, Patty, and I still live in the house we purchased in 1994 just outside of Teutopolis. We have our three dogs Bruiser, Pablo, and Stewie who have the run of the house and a couple of acres we have protected by an underground pet fence. We have always been dog people but our children are all grown now and have moved away so we spoil the daylights out of the dogs.

"I would be remorse if I did not say that I married the perfect coach’s wife. Patty and her family were not particularly athletic. Her father was a very food golfer and her brother played baseball as a child but I do not think Potty or any of her siblings were involved in athletics in any way.
"When we began dating in 1973, I had graduated from EIU and was working in underground coal mine construction at the Murdoch mine just outside of Newman, IL. She knew I had played basketball and attended EIU games when I could but it was not a part of our dating scene.  

"While I was making good money at the mine, my goal was to get a teaching job near Charleston as Patty was still attending EIU obtaining a degree in speech pathology. That goal was accomplished when I began my teaching career at Newman Grade School in the fall of 1973.  

"Newman was a very small but excellent school and I was hired to teach seventh and eighth grade math, science, and physical education.  I was also “the coach”, meaning I was the only coach at the grade school and I coached junior high basketball, baseball, and track. Coaching was very different in those days.

"My first coaching season was fall baseball. When I went to inspect the field I found that it had not been mowed all summer long and was a weed field. I went to Gene Dick, the high school athletic director and asked him who maintained the field. He was a great guy and both he and his wife became good friends with me, but he just smiled and said, “You do if you want to practice and play games. The tractor and mower are in the shed at the high school.”  Welcome to small school coaching 101 in the early 1970’s.  

"I tell this story because obviously I was very busy with my teaching and coaching assignments so Patty began to attend games when she had the opportunity. She began to enjoy basketball but confessed to know nothing about the game which meant she had no preconceived notions about what and how things should be done. Call that a great quality in a coach’s wife #1. She did get very excited and nervous in close games to the point that she would sometimes go out in the hallway to settle down and so she did not have to watch the closing tense moments.

"In my opinion, another quality that made her the perfect coach’s wife was the fact that she supported the team and me without being critical. Since she had no basketball background she would ask me questions about things she did not understand and I always tried to give her a confident answer even though at times it may have been B.S.  

"Many times, fans or parents in the stands would say critical things about the coach or the team. While I was able to block out all but the very obnoxious comments from the crowd, I am sure Patty heard her share.  I have known some coaches who had wives that told their husbands everything they heard in the stands and who said it. I have never felt that was productive for the coach to hear for many reasons. She never, in my 36 years of coaching, shared anything she heard in the stands and I truly appreciate that quality in her even though I understand that part of that was because she did not want to incite another one of my tirades that were often a part of my post game, wind down at home, pattern. 

"Being a wife, having a full-time job, and raising children is a very challenging role for any mother. Having those three roles as a coach’s wife only adds to the responsibility and pressure as daddy spends a lot of time in the gym and on the road scouting and is not home many times to help with the children. Patty balanced all of those challenges and did her best to bring all of the kids to as many games as possible but it was certainly a huge challenge and I am sure it was tough for her to enjoy the games.  

"When our kids started playing athletics, Patty went to every game but she just cheered for the team and “nervously” enjoyed the games in a positive manner. I could not have asked for a more perfect wife to me and mother to our children and I am grateful every day for that blessing.

"All three of our children were involved in the basketball program in one way or another. I did not feel that they had to play but I did want them involved in some way or another. Our oldest son, Joe, played basketball through his freshman year and then decided to serve as a manager-statistician the remaining years of his high school career. Our daughter, Katie, was a cheerleader throughout her junior high and high school years and our son Matt played basketball throughout his junior high and high school years. There was only 22 months between Joe and his twin sister and brother, so basketball was a family affair for many years and I have always appreciated the determination and sacrifices they made for the program and especially for me.

"After graduating from high school, all three of our children attended and graduated from SIU-Carbondale. After graduating they all went their separate ways and moved into various vocations.

"Joe worked in journalism for a number of years in New Mexico and Indiana but has just finished his third semester in law school at the Chicago Kent School of Law. He is attending on a full tuition scholarship he earned from the school and is doing quite well in his studies. He also seems to enjoy his studies and the experiences he is obtaining while attending school.

"Katie went into the counseling field and worked at Southeast Missouri State University for a few years in the career guidance department. She then took a job at the University of California-Berkeley in the engineering department as a career counselor. After a few years at Berkeley, she went into the private sector and went to work for a human resource company in San Francisco.  She is now riding out the Covid storm in California.

"Matt, who is the youngest child in the family by about two hours, worked a number of jobs after graduating from SIUC.  He worked as an athletic trainer for a while then as a bread truck driver for a couple of years in Carbondale. He then returned to Teutopolis and had a very positive experience  working at Effingham Builders Supply. He then moved to Charleston, South Carolina where he again worked as an athletic trainer and tried his hand at selling health insurance.  After two years he returned to the Effingham area and worked at Sherwin Williams until he entered Logan University School of Chiropractic Medicine in January of 2016. He graduated with a doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine  in 2019 and is now a practicing chiropractor in Ft. Wayne, Indiana."