E.A. Sports Today

Machristie close to choice

Wellborn senior expected to commit to SIU; White Plains hoops looking ahead

Wellborn linebacker Landon Machristie (12) helps trip up an Oakman ballcarrier during their second-round playoff game. On the cover, quarterback Machristie brings the Panthers to the line. (Photos by Greg McWilliams)

Wellborn linebacker Landon Machristie (12) helps trip up an Oakman ballcarrier during their second-round playoff game. On the cover, quarterback Machristie brings the Panthers to the line. (Photos by Greg McWilliams)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Landon Machristie wasn’t quite ready to officially pull the trigger on his verbal commitment Sunday night, but indications are he is about to make the coaches at one Missouri Valley school very happy.

The Wellborn senior returned from a last-minute visit to Southern Illinois and is expected to commit to the Salukis as early as Monday when their coaches visit to review their offer. If it doesn’t happen then, it’s likely to take place in the next week.

“I’m definitely going to be a Saluki,” Machristie said confidently Sunday.

Machristie, the Panthers’ quarterback and linebacker, was scheduled to visit the school next week, but left out Friday a few hours after playing in the Panthers’ basketball game Thursday night.

He also had strong interest from Campbell, an offer from Illinois State, and Charleston Southern and Jacksonville State were on his list. But this weekend’s visit left him with a vibe that just seemed familiar and comfortable.

And it didn’t hurt that the Salukis play in one of the top conferences in their division and regularly play some of the best teams in the FCS.

“Southern Illinois has a lot more ups than downs,” he said. “You could really tell in the facilities and the campus … everything seemed in a different league.

“And the town seemed together; it had a Wellborn feel. The players took me in and … made me feel at home. I’m really high on them right now. I was really impressed with the visit.”

While Machristie played both leadership positions at Wellborn, the Salukis want him as a linebacker, where he was one of the best in the county. This past season he recorded 112 tackles, caused five fumbles, had an interception and recovered a fumble for a touchdown.

Machristie wasn’t the only top county player making a college visit this weekend. Donoho’s versatile Justin Foster was visiting Ohio before returning to the state to begin practice for Saturday’s Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. Oxford’s Tre Gamble also will play in the game at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.

WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR: The White Plains basketball team is gearing up for two high profile events this month.

On Saturday, the Wildcats play Fyffe in the second of six games in the TV24 Challenge at Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum. Then they head to the Gulf Coast between Christmas and New Year’s to play in the 20th annual Hilton Sandestin Beach Basketball Blowout at Freeport High School.

They play nearby Paxton in their first game of the Florida event 6 p.m. Dec. 27. Their second game will be against either Holy Innocents of Atlanta or Buckhorn (KY). Beachgoers will recognize Paxton as one of the high schools they pass as soon as they enter Florida on the way to Destin.

The trip is just one of the reasons that make this Wildcats coach Chris Randall’s favorite times of the year.

“Playing at JSU is a special treat,” he said. “We play in the county tournament there and the regionals are there, so any time we get a chance to play on that floor it’s a big deal. Fyffe is coming off the football state championship so they are loaded with athletes and hopefully we can make it a good game.

“As far as Destin, that trip is a highlight for our players. It’s fun to play different opponents, enjoy the beach, enjoy hanging out together and enjoy playing some of the best teams in the Southeast.”

Here is the schedule for Saturday’s TV24 Challenge:

Collinsville vs. Sacred Heart, noon
Fyffe vs. White Plains, 1:30 p.m.
Plainview vs. Alexandria, 3 p.m.
Geraldine vs. Saks, 4:30 p.m.
Oxford vs. Sparkman, 6 p.m.
Gadsden vs. Talladega, 7:30 p.m.

Although the games are being played in Calhoun County, all the county teams (and Talladega) are designated as the road team and wear its dark jerseys.

Here are the first round pairings for the Destin event. Winners and losers in paired games will face each other in their respective brackets Dec. 29.

Bayside (AL) vs. St. Benedict (TN), 9 a.m. paired with
Pleasant Grove (AL) vs. Wesley Christian (KY), 10:30 p.m.
Ponce de Leon (FL) vs. South Walton (FL), noon paired with
Cookeville (TN) vs. St. Paul’s (AL), 1:30 p.m.
Fort Dale (AL) vs. Freeport (FL), 3 p.m. paired with
Maclay (FL) vs. Sneads (FL), 4:30 p.m.
Paxton (FL) vs. White Plains, 6 p.m. paired with
Holy Innocents (GA) vs. Buckhorn (KY), 7:30 p.m.

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