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Really Big Eighth Grade Boys Cage State Finals Begin Saturday

Four champions in Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) eighth grade boys basketball will be crowned for the second time in history, beginning Saturday (Feb. 9) at four sites. Competition in the Class 1A, Class 2A, Class 3A and Class 4A State Final Tournaments will feature tall and talented players in each class.

There are 424 players listed on the rosters of the 32 remaining teams (8 in each class). Of that 424 there are 58 players (14 percent) standing 6-0 or taller. Class 4A has the most with 24 of 113 players at 6-0 or taller, including Charleston's 6-7 Collin Ferguson, the tallest of them all.

The breakdown by Class and height is:

Class 1A: 3 at 6-0; 2 at 6-1; 2 at 6-2.
Class 2A: 3 at 6-0; 3 at 6-1; 4 at 6-2; 2 at 6-3.
Class 3A: 3 at 6-0; 6 at 6-1; 3 at 6-2; 3 at 6-3.
Class 4A: 9 at 6-0; 4 at 6-1; 5 at 6-2; 3 at 6-3; 2 at 6-4; 1 at 6-7.

Class 1A will be played at Auburn JHS at Divernon. Class 2A will be at Monticello Middle School. Wenona Fieldcrest Middle School will host Class 3A. Kingsley Junior High in Normal will host Class 4A.

The time schedule for all four tournaments will be the same. Quarterfinals will be played Saturday with the first of four games beginning at 10:00 a.m. at each site. The four quarterfinal winners will meet in semifinal games Saturday night with the first of two games set to begin at 6:00 p.m. Third place and championship games will be played Thursday with the third place game set for 6:00 p.m. and the championship game scheduled for 7:30.

The price of admission Saturday is $7.00 for adults and $3.00 for seniors (62 and over) and students (K-8) and is good for all games Saturday. Children younger than kindergarten are admitted free. Fans attending the games Saturday will receive a wristband that is to be worn all day and will be used for entry into the facility throughout the day. The price of admission for the third place and championship game session Thursday will be $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for seniors and students (K-8). Children younger than kindergarten again are admitted free.

IESA boys basketball began in 1930. From 1930 to 1972 there were two classes: Class A (heavyweight) and Class B (lightweight). Class C (7th grade) was added in 1973. From 1977-1984, the heavyweight class was divided into two classes based on enrollment. From 1985-2006, there were Class A and Class AA state series for both seventh grade and eighth grade. Beginning in 2007, the seventh grade and eighth grade series have four classes each.

Complete pairings for each state final, plus the FanZone, can be found at www.iesa.org. Click on the Boys Basketball line in the orange box at the top of the IESA Web Site Home Page.

Here is a look at each of the four 2008 Eighth Grade State Final Tournaments:

Class 1A

The chase for the 2008 state title is a wide open race that involves perennial powers Pontiac St. Mary's, Jacksonville Our Saviour and Peoria Limestone Walters. In addition, Cissna Park, whose seventh grade team won the Class 1A state championship Thursday night (Feb. 7), is also in the field.

Pontiac St. Mary's (12-13) meets Lovejoy (16-4) in the first quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. Then Jacksonville Our Saviour (19-6) battles Joliet Laraway (13-8) at 11:30 a.m. Peoria Limestone Walters (20-3) and Cissna Park (19-6) square off at 1:00 p.m. Pana Sacred Heart (14-3) plays Decatur St. Patrick (22-3) in the nightcap.

Peoria Limestone Walters returns six players who scored points for the Rockets in last year's seventh grade Class 1A quarterfinal game loss (35-32) to eventual champion Franklin. They are 5-10 forward Joben Barnes (13 points), 5-8 guard Chuck Shempf (8), 5-5 guard Zach Jewell (3), 5-7 guard Jacob Light (2), 6-0 center Tyler Morse (4) and 5-6 guard Robbie Grossmeyer. The Rockets also have 6-2 Tyler Langen at center with 5-10 Jarod Liescheidt and 5-10 Tyler Petraitis at forward.

Pontiac St. Mary's, last year's fourth place finishing team in the seventh grade Class 1A state final, again may well be the "little team that could". The Saints return all 15 of the players who were on the seventh grade team last year. Only four of the 15 are taller than 5-7. Center Tim Tjarks, who scored 34 points in three state final games last year, is the tallest player on the team at 5-11. Centers Daniel Corrigan (5-9), Ryan Fraher (5-8) and Ben Weber (5-8) provide the rest of the team's height. Guards Kyle Crowley (5-2), Mark Panno (5-5) and Peter Martin (5-6) handle the ball and spearhead the attacking defense.

Seven members of the Lovejoy eighth grade team played on the school's seventh grade Class 1A third place team Thursday night (Feb. 7), including 5-6 guard Devon Jones, who poured in 50 points in three seventh grade Class 1A games, 5-6 Ladarcus Ford, who scored 23 points in three games and 5-6 forward Mathew Glover who scored 18 points in three games. Eighth graders for the Wildcats include 5-8 center Demond Miller, 5-8 forward Alexian Miller, 5-6 guard Jaris Wellmaker and 5-4 guard Derrick Johnson.

Five of the 14 players on the Cissna Park roster played on the school's seventh grade team that won the 2008 Class 1A title Thursday night (Feb. 7). They are 5-2 guard Beau Anderson, 5-7 guard Alex Rabe, 5-10 forward Cole Hasselbring, 5-5 forward Ben Jennings and 5-2 forward Dan Mowaczyk. Jennings is a fifth grader and the others are in seventh grade. Rabe scored 42 points in three games in the seventh grade Class 1A state final. They join 5-10 eighth grade forward Rick Trask, 5-7 forward Trevor Frohling, 5-8 forward Tyson Seggebruch and 5-7 center Eric Brueggert.

Decatur St. Patrick can put a huge lineup on the court at any time. The Eagles centers are 6-2 Alex Tueth, 6-1 Kyle Leckrone and 6-2 Adrian Gieghorn. At forward are 6-0 Clay Brunner and 6-0 Bobby Boynton. The guards include 5-8 Blake Allison, 5-7 Daniel Queen and 5-5 James Bartley.

Jacksonville Our Saviour's seventh grade team qualified for the 2008 Class 1A state final and none of those 13 players are on the 15-player eighth grade roster. The enrollment for Jacksonville Our Saviour is 69. The Shamrocks' only player taller than 5-8 is Jacob Dietrich, a 6-1 center. Other front liners are 5-8 Mathew Martin, 5-7 Nick Braner, 5-7 Colin Sheehan and 5-7 Gil Maruna. Guards Nick Rossi and Brandon Langan are 5-5.

All four of the Jacksonville Our Saviour teams qualified for their respective state final tournament this school year, equaling the performance of Effingham St. Anthony last year in Class 2A. The school's seventh grade girls team won Class 1A. The eighth grade girls team lost in the Class 1A quarterfinals. The school's seventh grade boys team lost in the Class 1A quarterfinals.

Joliet Laraway has a roster of 11 players and six of them were on the school's seventh grade team that played in the 2008 seventh grade Class 1A state final. Sixth grader Jonah Coble scored five points in the seventh grade quarterfinal game, sixth grader Devon Smith added three, while Ryan Modiest scored a point, Gerald Franklin scored two and Keenan Bell got four points. Merkeese Wright also was on the seventh grade team roster. The eighth graders include 5-6 forward Kevin Burkett, 5-5 forward Royce Chandler, 5-6 forward Donald Nobles, 5-9 forward Eric Cooper and 5-9 center Matt Ballard.

Pana Sacred Heart has only nine players on the roster, four of which are 5-8 or taller. At center for the St. Pats is 5-11 Jared McMillen. Seth Thompson is a 5-8 forward and Matthew Bartimus is a 5-9 forward. Tallest player on the team is 6-0 guard Mitchell Beyers, who scored 18 points in the last year's seventh grade Class 1A title game against state champion Catlin. Five players on this year's eighth grade roster scored points in last year's seventh grade title game. They are Beyers (18), 5-4 forward Tanner Wiseman (8), 5-3 guard Avery Hrabak (7), 5-7 forward Tyler Epley (4) and McMillen (2).

The combined win-loss record of the Class 1A field is 135-46, a winning percentage of .746.

Of the 101 players listed on the team rosters, one is a fifth grader, 3 are sixth graders, 25 are seventh graders and 72 are eighth graders.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 1A is the smallest class. Following are the enrollments of the Class 1A teams by size: Pana Sacred Heart 35, Decatur St. Patrick 37, Peoria Limestone Walters 48, Lovejoy 50, Pontiac St. Mary's 50, Cissna Park 58, Jacksonville Our Saviour 69 and Joliet Laraway 70.

Class 2A

Defending champion Carthage returns in a field that includes five teams that have won 20 games so far this season. The other repeater from last year is Winchester. Last year Carthage stopped Winchester, 54-27, in the quarterfinals. This year they are in opposite brackets and could only meet in a Thursday game.

Hopkins Park Lorenzo Smith (14-5) faces Winchester (20-5) in the first quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. Brimfield (19-6) plays Dieterich (18-4) in the second game at 11:30 a.m. Bourbonnais St. George (20-3) battles Normal Metcalf (23-2) at 1:00 p.m. In the nightcap, Carthage takes on Illiopolis Sangamon Valley at 2:30 p.m.

Brimfield is loaded with size up front, and only one of its 13 players was on the roster of the school's seventh grade team that won third place in the seventh grade Class 2A state final Thursday night (Feb. 7). The Indians could put a lineup on the floor composed of 6-3 center Ryan Wilbur, 6-1 forward Luke Stockman, 6-1 guard Nick Unes and 6-2 seventh grade center Dakota Wagner, who scored 38 points in three games in the seventh grade Class 2A state final. Outside of Unes, the six other Brimfield guards are in the 5-3 to 5-5 range.

Eight of the 10 players on the Dieterich roster are eighth graders. Listed at center are 5-9 eighth grader Addam Dahnke, 5-8 eighth grader Neil Thoele and 5-8 seventh grader Brandon Westjohn. Devin Wright is a 5-8 forward and Nathan Garbe is a 5-8 guard.

Hopkins Park Lorenzo Smith has a roster that includes one sixth grader, six seventh graders and eight eighth graders. The Mustangs have 5-10 eighth grader Edward Dorsey, 6-1 seventh grader and 6-2 eighth grader Dennis Delaney at center. Forwards include 5-8 eighth grader Tremayne Davis and 5-9 seventh grader Kodi Sallee. The lone sixth grader is 5-7 Octavious Davis.

Every player but one on Illiopolis Sangamon Valley is taller than 5-5. The centers are 5-10 Danny Rentschler and 5-10 Austin West. At forward are 5-9 Blake Vurton, 5-9 Evan Leeper, 5-8 Cody Puckett, 5-7 Cole Batterton and 5-7 Jesse Blair. Guard Nick Craig is 5-8, while guards Jordan McCall and Eric Leonard are 5-7.

Normal Metcalf is one of the tallest teams in the state final. Six of the 12 players on the roster are 5-9 or taller. Tallest is 6-2 center Mitch Styczynski. Isiah Brown is a 6-0 center and Jordan Joliff is a 5-11 center. At forward are 5-10 Jim Solberg and 5-10 Clayton Hamilton. Kyle Morris and David Castillo are 5-5 guards.

Winchester won last year's seventh grade Class 2A title and returns 10 members of that team taller and stronger than a year ago. Leading the way is the trio of 6-3 center McKoye DeJaynes, 6-2 forward Blake Lomelino and 5-10 guard Parker Day. DeJaynes scored 35 points in three games last year while Day chipped in 27 and Lomelino added 19. The threesome combined for 81 of the 113 points the Wolverines scored in the state final a year ago. Among the other returnees are 6-0 forward Justin Hardy and 5-9 forward Josh Peak.

Bourbonnais St. George has 6-0 T. J. Lakeburg, 5-11 Nick Pippin and 5-8 Tyler Hensley in the post. Forwards are 5-10 Charlie Dicola, 5-7 Sean Bruder, 5-7 Delano Samuels-El and 5-5 Cody Randolph. Four of the Raiders' guards are 5-5 or taller, with Corey Curwick the tallest at 5-6.

Perennial power Carthage lost in the seventh grade Class 2A quarterfinals last year and seven players who scored in the 61-57 overtime loss to eventual runner-up Chandlerville A-C Central, are on this year's eighth grade team. Top scorers for the Blueboys in last year's state final game were 5-9 forward Evan McGaughey (23 points), 5-3 guard Nick Driskell (13) and 5-8 forward Kayden Guymon (7). Others who played and scored in last year's quarterfinal game are guards Zack Boyer, Jack Bastert and Cole Carson and 5-11 forward Spencer Kirkenslager.

The combined win-loss record of the Class 2A field is 157-29, a winning percentage of .844.

Of the 100 players listed on the eight rosters, one is a sixth grader, 10 are seventh graders and 89 are eighth graders.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 2A is the second smallest class. Following are the enrollments of the Class 2A teams by size: Dieterich 72, Hopkins Park Lorenzo Smith 72, Bourbonnais St. George 76, Normal Metcalf 100, Brimfield 105, Winchester 108, Illiopolis Sangamon Valley 129 and Carthage 131.

Class 3A

Three of the eight qualifiers in Class 3A also had teams in the 2008 seventh grade Class 3A state final. They are Washington MS, which finished second Thursday night (Feb. 7), Madison, which took third place, and Lincoln JHS, which lost in the quarterfinals. Three of the eight teams - Calumet City Schrum, Williamsville and Glasford Illini Bluffs - are repeat eighth grade Class 3A qualifiers from a year ago.

Herscher Limestone (22-1) faces Calumet City Schrum (19-3) in the opening quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. Then Marshall JHS (20-2) battles Williamsville (17-5) at 11:30 a.m. Washington MS (24-1) meets Lincoln JHS (20-4) at 1:00 p.m. These same two teams played each other last Saturday in the third quarterfinal game of the seventh grade Class 3A state final. Madison (16-5) and Glasford Illini Bluffs (19-5) square off in the nightcap at 2:30 p.m.

Calumet City Schrum, third place finisher in last year's eighth grade Class 3A state final, brings the tallest team to the tournament. The Spartans have nine players on their roster of 15 standing 5-8 or taller. At center are 6-3 Tevin Stephenson, 6-1 Scottie Franklin and 6-0 Joshua Washington. The forwards are 6-3 Torin Washington, 5-10 Deandre Thomas, 5-10 Jamar Merritt, 5-9 Daniel Zaklan, 5-8 William Wilson and 5-8 Dion Beecham. Guard Eric Wood is 5-8 and guard Patrick Sago is 5-6.

Glasford Illini Bluffs has 6-1 Cody Cunningham and 6-1 Trevor Depperman at center with 5-10 Brad Burton at guard. Forwards are 5-9 Josh Quick, 5-9 Avery Jordan, 5-8 Josh Wade and 5-6 Alec Berardi.

The shortest players on the Herscher Limestone team are 5-6 guards Cody Reynolds and Luke Pommier. Up front the Lightning list 6-3 Tom Sullivan and 6-2 Jordan Ruckman at center with 5-10 Luke Wenzelman, 5-11 Larry Nottke, 6-0 Ben Wenzelman, 5-9 Landon Hoffman and 6-2 Justin Ruckman at forward. Guard Spike Engelman is 5-10. Two other guards are 5-8 Ian Powell and 5-7 Matt Webber.

Only four of the 15 players on the Lincoln JHS roster are 5-8 or taller. They are 5-9 guard Austin Kirby, 5-8 guard Ethan Cantrall, 5-8 forward Christian Van Hook and 5-8 forward Tony Skelton. Three players from the seventh grade team are on the roster. They are 5-3 forward Anthony Cannon and 5-0 guards Ryan Sloan and Ethan Michael.

Madison also has three players from the seventh grade team on the eighth grade roster. They are 5-6 guard Deniko Kirkwood, 5-5 forward Sterling Harrell and 5-8 center Marcus Williams. Harrell poured in a total of 68 points in the seventh grade games. Only three other Spartans are 5-7 or taller. They are 5-7 forward Landis Patton, 5-7 forward Andre Berry and 5-8 forward Corey Hardin.

All 15 members of the Marshall JHS team are 5-5 or taller and 10 of them are 5-7 or taller. At center are 6-0 Jared Boyll and 5-10 Dalton McNeely and 5-10 Taylor Wallace. Forward Jordan Grooms is 5-10 and forward Rodney Troutman is 6-1. At guard the Cubs have 5-9 Jacob Duncan, 5-9 Logan Cannady and 5-7 Nathan Kash.

Washington MS can match up in height with any of the eight teams in the state final. In fact, the Panthers are a huge team. Centers are 6-2 Jared Holloman and 6-1 Mike Ernst. At forward are 6-1 Zach Little, 5-10 Ben Ryan, 5-8 Justin Clem, 5-8 Charlie Ludolph and 5-7 Alex Frost. The Panthers have 5-9 Isaac Fisher, 5-8 Grant Glick and 5-8 Jordan Broadstone at guard. None of the players on the seventh grade team are on the roster for the eighth grade team.

Last year Williamsville advanced both its seventh and eighth grade boys teams to the Class 3A state finals. Both teams lost in the quarterfinals. Six players who scored for the Bee Bees in the seventh grade state final game last year are on this eighth grade team. They are 5-9 guard Nick Roscetti (2 points), 5-4 guard Payton Jeffers (4), 5-8 forward Zach Ziemba (10), 5-9 forward Wade Rademacher (11), 5-3 guard Jacob Luker (2) and 5-10 center J.J. Watson.

The combined win-loss record of the Class 3A field is 157-26, a winning percentage of .857.

Of the 110 players listed on the eight rosters, 8 are seventh graders and 102 are eighth graders.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 3A is the second largest class. Following are the enrollments of the Class 3A teams by size: Glasford Illini Bluffs 141, Madison 148, Marshall JHS 196, Washington MS 197, Herscher Limestone 208, Williamsville 219, Calumet City Schrum 236 and Lincoln JHS 271.

Class 4A

Springfield Franklin brings a 25-0 record and a tall and talented team into the Class 4A quarterfinals Saturday and rates as one of the teams to beat. Once-beaten Charleston and Woodridge Jefferson loom as the others. However, seven of the eight finalists have won at least 20 games.

Edwardsville Lincoln (21-5) plays Matteson Colin Powell (16-6) in the first quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. Charleston (23-1) battles Springfield Franklin (25-0) in the second game at 11:30 a.m. In the third game at 1:00 p.m., Sterling Challand (20-3) meets Normal Kingsley (22-3). Woodridge Jefferson (21-1) and South Holland McKinley (20-2) square off in the last quarterfinal game at 2:30 p.m.

Charleston lists two centers, four forwards and nine guards on its roster of all eighth graders. In the middle are 6-7 Collin Ferguson and 5-11 Robert Gordon. The forwards are 6-2 Skyler McNeil, 5-8 Donovan Brandt, 6-0 Dakota Jones and 6-4 T. J. Bell. Four of the guards are 5-8 or taller. They are 5-8 Calvin Bertrand, 5-8 Kody French, 5-9 Jordan Hays and 5-9 Aaron Bence.

Edwardsville Lincoln has seven players on its roster 5-10 or taller. They are 6-1 guard Quincy Morgan, 5-10 forward Jacob Nolan, 5-11 forward Casey Thebeau, 6-2 forward Blake Brown, 5-11 guard Derek Page, 6-0 forward Diarra Cropper and 5-11 forward Brian Gifford. Maleek Malone and Alex Jackson are both 5-8 guards.

In just its second year of membership in IESA, Matteson Colin Powell is making its first trip to the state final in boys basketball. The Eagles have only three players taller than 5-9. They are 6-0 forward David Brown, 5-11 forward Cedric Russell and 5-10 center Kyle Williams. Three of the four guards on the roster have size. Mario Robinson is 5-3, but Roymell Long is 5-7, Anthony Coleman is 5-7 and Cullen Foulks is 5-8.

Normal Kingsley boasts five players 5-11 or taller. At center for the Cavaliers is 6-3 Tyler Durham. The forwards are 6-1 Austin Stewart, 6-0 Nathan Teichman, 6-0 Alex Niepagen and 5-11 Adam Gerard. Eric Horvath (5-7) is the only one of nine guards taller than 5-4.

Springfield Franklin has two centers. One is 5-8 Antoine Lanier and the other is 6-4 Willie Wiley. The Falcons have 6-2 Ridge Ackerman, 6-1 Austin Eagleton and 5-10 Ryan Geiber at forward, along with Abhinav Brahmamdam and Seth Riggle, both 5-8. Guards at 5-8 are Payton Fleming and Alex Kramer with Sam Cross, Decarlos Poole and James Johnson at 5-6.

South Holland McKinley has 6-3 Jordan Okanu and 6-0 Filbert Elonge at center and can put either 6-1 Torrance Johnson, 5-9 Jalon Livous, 5-7 Shannon Williams or 5-10 Dante Davis at forward on the front line. The Monarch list seven guards on the roster including 6-1 Darell Combs.

Sterling Challand has 6-3 Jordan Neal in the post. Flanking him at forward could be either 6-0 Brandon Kessler, 5-9 Javon Coleman, 5-10 Christopher Fritsch, 5-9 Aaron Brenner, 5-10 Alejandro Rivera or 5-8 Treyvon Solis. Tallest of the eight guards for the Lancers are 5-8 Jalen Ruffin and Jerimiah Johnston.

Woodridge Jefferson can throw a huge front line at its opponents. The Wolverines have four centers 6-0 or taller and a trio of rangy forwards. The post players are 6-2 Malik Russell, 6-2 Frankie Cooley, 6-0 Hugo Olivas and 6-1 Anthony Farinella. Tallest forward is 6-0 Tamaris Thomas, with 5-9 Sean Love and 5-8 Nick Vanek. Jamall Millison is a 5-11 guard.

The combined win-loss record of the Class 4A field is 168-21, a winning percentage of .888.

Of the 113 players listed on the eight rosters, 2 are seventh graders and 111 are eighth graders.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 4A is the largest class. Following are the enrollments of the Class 4A teams by size: South Holland McKinley 301, Charleston 433, Sterling Challand 445, Edwardsville Lincoln 524, Matteson Colin Powell 526, Springfield Franklin 588, Woodridge Jefferson 635 and Normal Kingsley 666.



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