History-making efforts define seasons for McDonald's/Herald-Whig Classic coaches

Posted: Apr. 19, 2014 9:51 pm Updated: Nov. 28, 2014 4:18 pm

Herald-Whig Sports Editor

Zach Summers helped the Knox County boys basketball team accomplish something that hadn't been done in two decades.

His next challenge is to do something that has been accomplished only twice in three decades.

Summers will coach the Missouri boys team in the 31st annual McDonald's/Herald-Whig Classic, which will be played June 7 at Quincy University's Pepsi Arena. The 32nd annual girls game will tip off at 5 p.m. with the boys game to follow at approximately 7.

Tickets for the Classic will go on sale May 1.

Last winter, Summers led the Eagles to their first Tri-Rivers Conference championship since 1994, beating Scotland County 59-55 in the regular-season finale. The Eagles beat the Tigers twice during the regular season, earning the tiebreaker as both teams finished with 8-2 league records.

Knox County reached the district championship for the first time since 2009 and the first time in Summers' three seasons as head coach, finishing 16-11.

The Missouri boys have won only two of the previous 30 Classic meetings, and Summers will be matching wits with another coach who helped his team make history.

Unity's Keith Carothers will guide the Illinois boys after leading the Mustangs to the state tournament for the first time in school history.

The Herald-Whig Coach of the Year saw Unity overcome being the No. 2 seed in its own regional to finish third in the Class 1A final four. Unity had never advanced past the super-sectional prior to this season.

Carothers, who has coached at Unity for seven seasons, led the Mustangs to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1989-90 and only the second time in school history.

The girls game will feature two coaches with history-in-the-making performances as well.

Central-Southeastern coach Matt Long, who will guide the Illinois girls, won his 400th career game last winter, leading the Lady Panthers to a spot in the Class 2A regional championship game. Long recently completed his 21st season at Central and 24th season overall.

He is one of 40 coaches in state history with at least 400 career victories, according to Illinois High School Association records.

Coaching opposite Long will be Palmyra's Chris Parsons, who led the Lady Panthers to the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive season and back-to-back Clarence Cannon Conference championships.

The Lady Panthers have not lost a CCC game in Parsons' two seasons on the sideline and have gone 51-9 overall.

The rosters for the four teams will be released next Sunday.


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