By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Even with one regular-season Great Lakes Valley Conference game remaining Thursday for men's and women's basketball teams, there isn't much suspense regarding the GLVC Tournament field.
The 12 teams in the men's and women's tournaments already have been decided, although the seeds could fluctuate based on Thursday's action.
The men's 12-team tournament will consist of Drury, Wisconsin-Parkside, Southern Indiana, Bellarmine, Lewis, Kentucky Wesleyan, Maryville, Missouri-St. Louis, Indianapolis, William Jewell, Quincy University and Illinois-Springfield.
St. Joseph's could tie UIS for the No. 12 spot if the Pumas win Thursday and the Prairie Stars lose, but UIS holds the tiebreaker.
Drury will go in as the West Division champion, while UWP will enter as the East Division champ after clinching the title for the first time in program history with Thursday's 97-68 win over SJC.
On the women's side, the field will consist of Lewis, KWC, Maryville, UWP, Quincy, Indianapolis, Missouri S&T, William Jewell, UMSL, Southern Indiana, Bellarmine and Drury.
Maryville clinched the West Division champion with its 86-63 win over Quincy on Saturday coupled with losses by S&T and UMSL. The Lady Hawks and the Lady Miners could still tie the Saints atop the standings, but the Saints have the tiebreaker over each.
The East title is still up for grabs. Lewis and KWC are tied for the top spot with UWP a game behind. On Thursday, Lewis will play UWP, and KWC will play USI.
Outlook improves for Mennemeyer: Erin Mennemeyer, a freshman reserve center for the QU women's team, might return to action this season after all.
Out since spraining her right knee in a Feb. 7 game, Mennemeyer practiced last Friday and was in uniform for QU's loss Saturday at Maryville, but she did not play. QU coach Jeni Garber said afterward that she thought about playing Mennemeyer but decided to play it safe for another game. Earlier in the week, Garber had said she did not expect Mennemeyer to return this season.
The Lady Hawks are 1-4 since Mennemeyer's injury. She averages 3.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game and is QU's only other true option to play center when starter Hannah Weedman isn't on the floor.
Reserve leads KWC to key win: If the GLVC had a Sixth Man of the Year award, there's almost no doubt it would go to Kentucky Wesleyan senior center Dazmond Starke. As it stands, the transfer from Division I Idaho is still almost certain to be a first-team all-conference selection.
Starke scored a game-high 23 points, grabbed five rebounds and was 11 of 16 from the field coming off the bench in the Panthers' 67-62 win over No. 15 Bellarmine on Saturday at Owensboro, Ky.
For the season, Starke is sixth in the GLVC in scoring (16 points per game), second in rebounds (eight per game) and first in field-goal percentage (68 percent). He averages just 22.5 minutes per game and has come off the bench in 21 of KWC's 24 games.
The win Saturday was key for the Panthers, who were No. 9 in the Midwest Region rankings released last week. Eight teams from the Midwest make the NCAA Division II Tournament. Bellarmine had the No. 2 ranking in the region. KWC (19-6, 11-6) is now on a four-game winning streak.
"We definitely felt like we needed to win this game," Starke told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer. "We've been working on this game all week, even before we had to focus on McKendree (which KWC beat 88-66 on Thursday). We had this game on our mind all the time."
Tough season for Bearcats: McKendree men's basketball coach Harry Statham is the winningest coach in the history of men's college basketball with 1,068 victories. Only seven of those wins have come this season, however.
McKendree, formerly a force at the NAIA level, has struggled in its first year in the GLVC. The Bearcats are 7-20 overall but 1-16 in league play. They've lost 15 straight games since beating Quincy 67-59 on Jan. 5 at Lebanon, Ill.
The Bearcats have a pair of high-level guards in Clinton Happe (18.1 ppg) and John Steppe (17.9 ppg). However, injuries and team defections have decimated the Bearcats' depth. They have used only seven or eight players throughout most of league play.
Statham, for his part, has tried to remain positive.
"I've tried my whole career, pretty much, to not live in the past on the wins," Statham, who is in his 47th season at McKendree, told the Belleville News-Democrat earlier this month.
"I don't like (losing), obviously. But I don't think about it much. There's next year. There's the next game. … We'll strive to get better in all areas. We'll be very competitive next year, I guarantee you."
Weekly honors: UMSL junior guard Darian Cartharn was named the Men's Basketball Player of the Week on Monday. In a pair of Tritons wins last week, Cartharn averaged 21 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He shot 53.6 percent from the field and was 10 of 19 from 3-point range.
William Jewell junior guard Chelsea Meeks was named the Women's Basketball Player of the Week. Meeks averaged 21 points, three rebounds, three assists and 2.5 steals per game in a pair of WJC wins last week. She's the first WJC player ever to win the weekly honor. The Cardinals joined the GLVC last season.