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2009 Eighth Grade Boys Basketball State Finals Begin Saturday

Four champions in Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) eighth grade boys basketball will be crowned for the third time in history, beginning Saturday (Feb. 14) 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.

Class 1A will be played at Auburn JHS in Deveron. 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 afternoon with the first of two games set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Third place and championship games will be played Thursday (Feb. 19) 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 2009 Eighth Grade State Final Tournaments:

Class 1A

The chase for the 2009 state title is a wide open race. The only school returning to the state tournament from last year is Joliet Laraway, which took third place last year, and its seventh grade team played for the 2009 Class 1A title Thursday (Feb. 12).

In the first quarterfinal game, Royal Prairieview Ogden (18-6) plays Lincoln Chester-East Lincoln (10-8) at 10:00 a.m. Then Monmouth ICS (17-5) goes against Joliet Laraway (21-3) at 11:30 a.m. Dieterich (17-6) battles Marseilles Milton Pope (23-2) at 1:00 p.m. In the last quarterfinal game, Bluffs (16-5) meets Springfield Blessed Sacrament (20-3). The four winners return Saturday afternoon for semifinal games at 5:00 and 6:30 p.m.

Royal Prairieview Ogden rolls into the state tournament having outscored its three state series opponents by 82 points. The Mustangs have scored at least 55 points a game in the state series. Six of Coach Kevin Taylor's 15 players are 5-foot-9 or taller. At 6-0 are forward Bryce Stewart, guard Louis Acklin and center Calin Dial. At 5-9 are forward Kenneth Irle, guard Corbin Hesterberg and center Jamey Gilliland.

Seeded fourth in the regional, Lincoln Chester-East Lincoln is the Cinderella team in the tournament. The Panthers are one of the smallest teams in the field but came up with the biggest scoring outburst in the sectional in their 57-45 sectional win over Decatur Garfield Montessori. In the post, the Panthers list 6-1 Seth Unger and 5-7 seventh grader Sam Pegram. Guard Tommy Harris is 5-10.

Monmouth ICS is the smallest school in the state final with a seventh-eighth grade enrollment of 28. The Trojans topped perennial power Peoria Limestone Walters 37-29 in the sectional. Monmouth ICS can put a front line of 5-11 center Liam Merritt-Gilbert, 5-11 forward Nick Mainz and either 5-8 Blake Stevens or 5-8 Matt Bertelsen on the floor.

Three players on the Joliet Laraway team played on the school's seventh grade team that played for the seventh grade Class 1A title Feb. 12. They are 5-7 guard Jonah Coble, 5-8 forward Sherron Brooks and 5-9 forward Devon Smith. They join 6-0 center Keenan Bell, 5-9 forward David Veasy, 5-8 forward Gerald Franklin and 5-11 center Markeese Wright. Joliet Laraway handled highly-regarded Cissna Park 50-43 to win the sectional.

Dieterich has a roster of seven seventh graders and seven eighth graders. Only two players are taller than 5-8. They are 6-0 center Brandon Westjohn and 5-9 forward Andrew Hall, both eighth graders. After winning the regional semifinal by 11 points, The Roadrunners took the regional title 52-49 over Newton St. Thomas and the sectional 33-29 over Edinburg. Dieterich played in the eighth grade Class 2A state final last year.

Six of the 15 players on Marseilles Milton Pope are 5-8 or taller. Tallest is 6-2 center Martin Myre, while forward Michael Taylor is 5-10. Guard Michael Osbourne is one of the four players at 5-8. The Pilots have rolled over three state series opponents by a combined 151-93.

Bluffs has only five eighth graders on the team. They are 5-9 forward Kyle Mathews, 5-6 guard Braedon Buhlig, 5-7 guard Alec Berry, 5-8 forward Adam Baehr and 6-1 forward Corey Barnett. The Bluejays were seeded second in the regional, beat top-seeded Griggsville-Perry 41-35 in the regional final, and topped perennial power Jacksonville Our Saviour 34-25 in the sectional.

Springfield Blessed Sacrament has the tallest team in the tournament with three players taller than 6-0, and three others at 5-8. The biggies are 6-1 forward David Smith, 6-1 guard John Witsman and 6-2 center Logan Larson. At 5-8 are forwards Nick Evans, Luke Criscione and Joe Sadaj.

The combined win-loss record of the Class 1A field is 142-38, a winning percentage of .789.

Of the 108 players listed on the team rosters, 4 are sixth graders, 32 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: Monmouth ICS 28, Bluffs 35, Lincoln Chester-East Lincoln 62, Marseilles Milton Pope 62, Springfield Blessed Sacrament 65, Joliet Laraway 67, Dieterich 68 and Royal Prairieview Ogden 69.

Class 2A

Nineteen of the 92 players listed on the rosters for the eight teams stand 5-10 or taller and what happens underneath the basket appears to be a huge factor in determining the Class 2A state champion.

Bloomington Holy Trinity (19-7) faces Nokomis JHS (18-2) in the opening quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. Then Mendon Unity (19-2) battles Lindenhurst Millburn West (15-4) at 11:30 a.m. Springfield St. Agnes (17-5) plays Kewanee Wethersfield (18-5) at 1:00 p.m. Lexington (15-8) meets Champaign St. Matthew (16-8) in the 2:30 p.m. game. The four winners return Saturday afternoon for semifinal games at 5:00 and 6:30 p.m.

Leading Bloomington Holy Trinity under the basket are 5-11 centers Matthew Horton and Mitch Haynes. The only other players on the roster of 15 at 5-7 or taller are 5-7 guard Matt Rave and 5-8 forward Nate Atkins.

Nokomis JHS has only nine players on the roster, including 6-0 forward Austin Leigh and 5-9 forward Devon Wright. The other seven are 5-5 or smaller. The Braves survived 37-35 in the regional title game against Altamont and then stopped perennial power Effingham St. Anthony 45-21 in the sectional.

Mendon Unity nipped perennial power Carthage 36-35 to win the sectional after getting by Liberty 39-36 in the regional title game. The Colts have 6-0 Thomas Donley at center with 5-9 Aaron Schaffer at center, and 5-9 Trevor Boone at forward.

Lindenhurst Millburn West has only nine players on the roster, but the Cougars can throw a huge lineup at their opponents. At center, the Cougars have 6-1 A.J. Goggin and 5-10 Matt Boudart. The forwards include 5-10 Keenadae Benjamin, 6-0 Ben Wayne, 5-9 Nick Seketa and 5-10 Anton Grayer. The guards are 5-8 Drew Recker 5-8 Jake Kohler and 5-3 Troy Swindle. Seeded No. 1 in the regional, the Cougars have won their three state series games by margins of 10, 2 and 2 points.

Springfield St. Agnes has rolled through the state series after entering the regional as the No. 2 seed. St. Agnes dumped Springfield Christ The King 63-44 in the regional semifinal, top-seeded Girard 47-31 in the regional finale and Greenfield 49-36 in the sectional. The Aces list 6-0 Jonathan Hupp at center along with 5-11 Connor McGrath, 5-11 David Jacob and 5-8 Ryan Hickman.

Kewanee Wethersfield's tallest player is 5-10 forward Javvonte Hollowell, but nine of the other players on the roster are between 5-6 and 5-9. Guard Thad Swedman is 5-9. The others at 5-9 are forwards P. J. Koenigs and Drew Titlow.

Lexington has a reputation of coming on strong at tournament time and this year's Minutemen are no exception. With 6-3 Travis Manley and 6-1 Christopher Collins-Terry at center, and 5-8 forwards Nick Barkes, Jonathan Meints and Ben Leake, Lexington won its first regional game by 16, then nipped Colfax Ridgeview 33-29 in the regional finale before beating Gardner 37-27 in the sectional.

Champaign St. Matthew has five players 5-9 or taller on its nine-player roster. They are 5-9 forward Charlie Due, 5-10 forward Porter Miller, 5-10 forward Corey Hire, 5-10 center Kurtis Brown and 5-11 guard Kevin Carroll.

The Raiders have not been challenged in state series play, winning its regional games by 23 and 11 points, and then in the sectional 51-34 over Paris Crestwood.

The combined win-loss record of the Class 2A field is 137-41, a winning percentage of .770.

Of the 92 players listed on the eight rosters, 5 are seventh graders and 87 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: Lexington 79, Champaign St. Matthew 92, Springfield St. Agnes 104, Mendon Unity 106, Kewanee Wethersfield 109, Nokomis JHS 116, Lindenhurst Millburn West 118 and Bloomington Holy Trinity 129.

Class 3A

Three of the eight qualifiers in Class 3A also had teams in the 2009 seventh grade Class 3A state tournament, and Monmouth-Roseville JHS and Monticello played for the state championship Thursday (Feb. 12). They are in opposite brackets in this tournament, too. Madison is the third team making the double. Four of the eight teams – Madison, Washington MS, Calumet City Schrum and Lincoln JHS – are repeat eighth grade Class 3A qualifiers from a year ago.

Unbeaten Teutopolis (25-0) plays Monmouth-Roseville JHS (16-5) in the first quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. At 11:30 a.m., Madison (17-3) goes against undefeated Washington MS (22-0). Calumet City Schrum (21-1) battles El Paso-Gridley (23-2) at 1:00 p.m. Then Lincoln JHS (20-5) faces Monticello (23-1) at 2:30 p.m. The four winners return Saturday afternoon for semifinal games at 5:00 and 6:30 p.m.

The Wooden Shoes of Teutopolis roared through the regional and then dumped Robinson Nuttall 34-29 in the sectional. With eight players on the roster 5-9 or taller, Teutopolis is not the biggest team in the tournament. Leading the way in the middle are 6-3 Kyle Pruemer and 6-1 Matt Fearday. Tyler Windell is a 5-11 forward while Rourke Schultz and Ryan Ruholl are 5-10 forwards. Guard Jared Waldhoff is 5-10.

The cast of players for Monmouth-Roseville JHS is totally different than the players on the seventh grade team. None of the seventh graders move up.

Seeded No. 2 in the regional, the Titans stopped No. 1 seed Stronghurst Southern 35-24 in the regional final and then they nipped Dunlap 35-32 in the sectional. Up front they can use 6-0 centers David Harn and Chase Cvancara with 5-11 Neil Damon, 5-11 Aaron Troyer or 5-10 Will Myers at forward.

Madison has seven player 5-10 or taller on the roster, along with two players from its seventh grade team that lost to Monticello in the Class 3A seventh grade semifinals last Saturday (Feb. 7). Those two are 5-4 guard Demetrius Kirkwood and 5-9 forward Jimmy Jones. Tallest of the Spartans are 6-1 center Marcus Williams and 6-1 forward Dijon Bryant. Guard Sterling Harrell is 5-11 as are center Eric Jacks and forward Carvel Dixon.

Washington MS brings the tallest team to the tournament. The Panthers have 6-5 Austin Miller and 6-3 Troy Adams at center. Brad Kuchenbecker is a 6-0 forward and Alec Peters is a 6-0 guard. Then there are 5-11 guard Brett Grimes, 5-11 forward Austin Reel and 5-10 guard Nic Carroll. Washington MS beat cross-town rival Washington Central 32-29 for the regional title and then rolled by Chillicothe 45-26 in the sectional.

Calumet City Schrum is another Class 3A finalist that survived a tough regional finale. The Spartans nipped Dolton Roosevelt to advance to the sectional where they handled Morris Saratoga 43-29. Five members of the team are 6-0 or taller. They are 6-3 forward Bicholas Wood, 6-2 center Jeremy Baldwin, 6-2 center Kameron Green, 6-0 forward William Wilson and 6-0 center Devin Staples.

El Paso-Gridley is one of the shortest teams in the tournament. The Titans have 6-3 Bodee Schlipf at center and 5-10 Austin Hendren at forward. Robbie Hany is a 5-9 forward and 5-8 Carter Tria is a guard. El Paso-Gridley was seeded first in the regional and beat Paxton-Buckley-Loda 46-21 and Dwight 57-41 in the regional before stopping Beecher 44-29 in the sectional.

Lincoln JHS is also one of the short teams with only 5-9 center Stephen Kutz and 5-8 seventh grader Max Cook at forward taller than 5-5. Cook is both a scorer and defender. The Trojans were seeded No. 2 in the regional and had to win three games to get to the sectional. They beat Mason City Illini Central 46-32 to win the regional before stopping Roodhouse North Greene 57-43 in the sectional.

Monticello has outscored three state series opponents by a combined 117-57. The Sages are limiting their state series opponents to an average of 19 points per game. Like the school's seventh grade team that played Thursday (Feb. 12) for the Class 3A title, the Sages are big. There are no seventh graders on the team. Tallest of the Sages is 6-4 forward Bryan Phipps. Joining him are 6-1 forward Parker Trice, 5-11 forward Tyler Scott and 5-11 forward Ryan Donohue. Isaac Bales is a 5-10 guard and guard Ryan Binder is 5-8.

The combined win-loss record of the Class 3A field is 167-17, a sizzling winning percentage of .908.

Of the 107 players listed on the eight rosters, 4 are seventh graders and 103 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: Madison 136, El Paso-Gridley 171, Teutopolis 193, Washington MS 218,Calumet City Schrum 234, Monmouth-Roseville JHS 246, Lincoln JHS 266 and Monticello 274.

Class 4A

This year's Class 4A tournament has all the earmarks of one that will “separate the men from the boys” as they say in the long standing sports cliché.

The first quarterfinal battle matches Springfield Grant (18-1) against East St. Louis Lincoln (19-6) at 10:00 a.m. In the second bout, Joliet Dirksen (14-5) battles Matteson Colin Powell (19-3). Then Woodridge Jefferson (13-2) plays Pekin Broadmoor (18-1) at 1:00 p.m. Champaign Jefferson (22-3) meets Markham Prairie-Hills (24-2) at 2:30 p.m. The four winners return Saturday afternoon for semifinal games at 5:00 and 6:30 p.m.

Springfield Grant has a roster of 14 players and none is shorter than 5-8. Four of the Generals are 6-0 or taller. They are 6-2 center Marquis Smith and 6-0 forwards Julian Lee, Dwight Bolden and Blake Hardnett. The Generals can light up the scoreboard having outscored three state series opponents by a combined 171-122, including a 59-44 win over Chatham Glenwood in the sectional.

East St. Louis Lincoln is huge. The Tigers have six players 6-1 or taller in 6-4 center Dominick Stubbs, 6-4 forward Edward Williams, 6-3 center Johnny McCray, 6-2 center Demetrius Pawnell, 6-2 center Markese Jackson and 6-1 center Deshawn Munson.

Joliet Dirksen was seeded No. 5 in the regional and earned its berth in the sectional with a 46-31 win over No. 4 seed Minooka, a 45-44 win over No. 1 seed Joliet Hufford and a 34-28 win over No. 2 seed Channahon. The Senators have four players 5-10 or taller in 6-2 center Morris Dunnigan, 6-1 center Jaymon Wells (a seventh grader), 5-11 center Malik Neal and 5-10 forward Jaymz Pritchett.

Matteson Colin Powell is the shortest team in the tournament with only 5-10 forward Alvin Ellis on a roster of 11 players taller than 5-9. The Eagles advanced to the Class 4A state final last year, too.

Woodridge Jefferson, also a state final qualifier in Class 4A last year, has 6-2 center Jevon Belle, 6-1 center Joey Pieroni, 6-0 center La Relle Brown and 6-0 forward Austin Walker.

Pekin Broadmoor battled its way to the state tournament through the rugged Peoria area. The Bruins beat Canton Ingersoll 50-25 and Morton JHS 38-25 in the regional before stopping Normal Parkside 40-32 in the sectional. Trevor Pearson, a 6-1 center, is the tallest player on the team. Additional height comes from 5-11 forward Tyler Winders, 5-11 forward Zac Hansen and 5-10 forward Colin Honan.

Champaign Jefferson has only four players taller than 5-9. They are 6-2 center Xavier Martin, 6-0 center Christopher Hitchinson, 5-10 forward Michael McCray and 5-10 center Demetrion Brown.

Markham Prairie-Hills only has 6-2 center Delmon Brame taller than 5-11 forward Johnathan Oldham. The Mustangs also have 5-10 forwards Jermale Collins and London Covington and 5-10 guard Jovan Mooring. Markham Prairie-Hills has scored 152 points in its last two games, but has given up 147. The Mustangs got by Sauk Village Rickover 82-81 in double overtime to win the sectional.

The combined win-loss record of the Class 4A field is 147-23, a winning percentage of .865.

Of the 111 players listed on the eight rosters, 5 are seventh graders and 106 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: Joliet Dirksen 355, Pekin Broadmoor 421, East St. Louis Lincoln 422, Champaign Jefferson 449, Springfield Grant 459, Matteson Colin Powell 552, Woodridge Jefferson 674 and Markham Prairie-Hills 731.



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