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2005 IESA Eighth Grade Girls State Basketball Tournaments Begin Saturday

BLOOMINGTON . The final two of the four biggest girls state final basketball tournaments in Illinois get under way Saturday (Dec. 10) with the Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) 'Little Sweet 16' Eighth Grade Class A and Class AA State Tournaments.

Class 8A Tournament

All games in the 16th annual Class 8A State Final Tournament will be played at the Bloomington (Central Catholic) facility on the city's east side. All 16 teams will play first round games Saturday beginning at 9:00 a.m. Quarterfinals are set to begin at 4:00 p.m. Monday (Dec.12) with semifinals starting at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 13). The third place and championship games are slated for Thursday (Dec. 15) beginning at 6:00 p.m. See the Girls Basketball page at www.iesa.org for pairings, results and updates as the tournament progresses.

Defending champion Normal Epiphany (21-2) is seeking to become the third school in 8A history to win back-to-back titles. Paris Crestwood won in 1992-93 and Carthage followed in 1994-95. Epiphany has 5-10 Haley Cook at center and opens defense of its crown at 10:30 a.m. Saturday against Nokomis JHS (14-8).

Perennial power Paris Crestwood (19-3) is making its 12th appearance in the State Final. The Lady Eagles face Brimfield (22-1) in the noon game Saturday. Since the two-class system was adopted in 1990, Paris Crestwood has won the Class 8A title four times (1992-93-96-2001).

Two other schools in this year's field to have won the 8A title before. Springfield St. Agnes was champion in 2002 and Sigel St. Michael's won the crown in 1997. St. Agnes (22-1), the fourth place finisher last year, meets Warsaw (18-4) in the 1:30 p.m. game Saturday. Warsaw can put 6-0 Marley Hall and 5-9 Amber Smith on the floor at the same time. Sigel St. Michael's (14-8) faces Bismarck-Henning (19-3) at 6:00 p.m.

While there are no unbeaten teams in the 2005 field, four come into the tournament with only one loss. They are Springfield St. Agnes (22-1), Brimfield (22-1), Bunker Hill Meissner (20-1) and Jacksonville Our Saviour (21-1). Bunker Hill Meissner boasts the tallest team in the field and can throw a front line of 5-8 Shelbi Ivester, 5-11 Brooklyn Hlafka, 5-10 Taylor Mann and/or 5-9 Abby Paul at its opponents.

The 16 teams in this year's field have a combined won-loss record of 245-63, a combined winning percentage of .795. Four of them are making their first appearance in the 8A State tournament. They are Buckley St. John's (11-8), Bunker Hill Meissner (20-1), Tuscola East Prairie (16-7) and Sparland Midland (19-2). Bunker Hill Meissner meets Sparland Midland in Saturday's last game at 7:30 p.m.

Class 8AA Tournament

The Class 8AA games will be played at the Clinton Junior High Gym. All 16 teams will play first round games Saturday beginning at 9:00 a.m. Quarterfinals are set to begin at 4:00 p.m. Monday (Dec.12) with semifinals starting at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 13). The third place and championship games are slated for Thursday (Dec. 15) beginning at 6:00 p.m. See the Girls Basketball page at www.iesa.org for pairings, results and updates as the tournament progresses.

Defending champion Chatham Glenwood (15-4) is the only one of the final four teams from last year's Class 8AA state final return for this year's 16th annual 'Little Sweet 16' event, but the field is loaded. The combined won-loss record of the teams is a whopping 297-35, a winning percentage of .894. Only one of the 16 finalists has lost more than four times.

There are five unbeaten teams in this year's field. Champaign Franklin (17-0), Hillsboro (22-0), Toledo Cumberland (20-0), Warrensburg-Latham (22-0) and Normal Kingsley (21-0). Two others come into the state final with only a single loss. Bellwood Roosevelt (15-1) and Canton Ingersoll (22-1).

Chatham Glenwood opens defense of its 8AA title against Warrensburg-Latham in the 4:30 p.m. game Saturday. Champaign Franklin plays in Saturday's first game at 9:00 a.m. against Pleasant Plains (19-3). Hillsboro, which won the title in 2002, battles Frankfort Hickory Creek (17-4) at noon Saturday. Also in the upper bracket, Toledo Cumberland meets Bellwood Roosevelt (15-1) at 1:30 p.m. The only other unbeaten team in the lower bracket besides Warrensburg-Latham is Normal Kingsley and the Cavaliers face Canton Ingersoll (22-1) in the day's final game at 7:30 p.m.

Two of the teams can have a 6-0 player in the post. Pleasant Plains lists Quinn Stitt at center and Bellwood Roosevelt has Michala Johnson in the post.

The only school in 8AA history to win more than one state title is Quincy (in 1992 and 2000). In the fifteen previous years of the 8AA state final, 14 different schools have claimed the title.

Seven of the 16 finalists this year are making their first trip to the State Tournament. They are Champaign Franklin, Joliet Hufford (15-2), Frankfort Hickory Creek, Toledo Cumberland, Warrensburg-Latham, Coal City (19-3) and Normal Kingsley. Chatham Glenwood is making its eighth appearance in the State Tournament. In addition to the title in 2004, the Titans were fourth in 1998 and third in 2000. Mattoon (15-8) is making its seventh appearance, Forrest Prairie Central (20-3) its sixth and Canton Ingersoll its fifth.



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