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Four Champions To Be Crowned in Seventh Grade Boys Basketball

For the first time in Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) boys basketball history four champions will be crowned in the Seventh Grade State Basketball Tournament series. Competition in the Class 1A, Class 2A, Class 3A and Class 4A State Final Tournaments begins Saturday (Feb. 3) and concludes Thursday (Feb. 8) at four sites.

Class 1A will be played at Riverton High School. Class 2A will be at Delavan High School. Clinton Junior High will host Class 3A at Clinton High School. Stanford Olympia 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. This year the seventh grade and eighth grade series have four classes each.

The 2007 state tournament format and playing schedule is different than in previous years. Since 1985 year, 16 Class A and Class AA teams in seventh grade and eighth grade advanced to two respective 16-team state finals, and competition was conducted in a four-day format.

Complete pairings for each state final, plus the FanZone, can be found at 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 2007 Seventh Grade State Final Tournaments:

Class 1A

In a class where the combined seventh-eighth grade enrollment of the eight qualifiers is just 355, two of the eight have only seven players on their roster and a third has only nine. Catlin and Pana Sacred Heart each have only seven players while Lovejoy has nine. And while the eight qualifiers have an average enrollment of 44.4 students in seventh-eighth grade, the outcome of this year's first Class 1A State Final could prove that dynamite does come in small packages.

In the opening game Pontiac St. Mary's (12-11) meets Decatur St. Patrick (21-3) at 10:00 a.m. The second game pits Franklin (10-13) against Peoria Limestone Walters (20-3) at 11:30 a.m. In the third quarterfinal game at 1:00 p.m., Lockport Fairmont (12-6) battles Pana Sacred Heart (17-7). The final quarterfinal matches Catlin (18-6) against Lovejoy (14-7).

Decatur St. Patrick has an enrollment of 31 but five of the 11 players on its roster are 5-9 or taller. The Eagles can put a front line on the floor that can include 6-0 Alex Tueth, 6-0 Adrian Gleghorn, 5-11 Clay Brunner, 5-11 Kyle Leckrone or 5-9 Josh Queen. Pontiac St. Mary's (enrollment 51) must counter with no player on the roster taller than 5-8.

Franklin (enrollment 47) has no player taller than 5-5 listed on its 15-player roster. Tallest players on the Franklin roster are 5-5 Austin McQueen, 5-5 Adam Bergschneider and 5-5 Caleb Gerdes, all seventh graders. The Flashes must contend with a Peoria Limestone Walters team that can put 5-11 center Tyler Langen and 5-10 forward Joben Barnes on the floor.

Pana Sacred Heart (enrollment 21) has only one player among its seven players at 5-5 and the rest are shorter. The St. Pats can counter Lockport Fairmont in size except for 5-10 center Isaias Iturrieta.

Catlin's tallest player is 5-8 forward Cody Varner. Catlin has the largest enrollment in the field at 71. Lovejoy matches up in size with Catlin and its tallest player is 5-9 center Vonzell Henderson. Lovejoy forward Carloas Owens is 5-7 and center Alonzo Johnson is also 5-7, but none of the six other Wildcats are taller than 5-4.

The combined win-loss record of the Class 1A field is 124-56, a winning percentage of .688.

Of the 97 players listed on the eight rosters, 70 are seventh graders, 16 are sixth graders and there are five in fifth grade.

Class 2A

Unbeaten Carthage (22-0) and Cerro Gordo (23-0) head the field of eight Class 2A qualifiers. The finalists have a combined win-loss record of 156-32, a winning percentage of .830.

Carthage faces Chandlerville A-C Central (20-3) in a neighborhood shootout in the first quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. Then Cerro Gordo battles Brimfield (20-4) in the second game at 11:30 a.m. In the session's third game at 1:00 p.m., Winchester (18-7) meets Normal Metcalf (23-2). The nightcap features Grant Park (17-8) vs. Effingham St. Anthony (13-8).

Carthage has 5-8 Kayden Guymon at center, and can have either 5-8 Spencer Kirkenslager, 5-7 Evan McGaughey or 5-7 Tyler Bruns in the front line with him. Carthage won the IESA Boys Baseball Class 2A title with a 21-0 record this past fall. Guymon, McGaughey and 5-2 guard Jack Bastert were members of the baseball championship team. Chandlerville A-C Central, just about 50 miles from Carthage as the crow flies, lists only three of its 15 players at 5-7 or taller. They are 5-8 center Wes Carlock, 5-7 guard Will Edge and 5-8 guard Zach Parish. Nine of the other Knights are 5-4 or shorter.

Cerro Gordo has 5-10 Devin McWilliams in the middle with 5-9 Tim Weaver at guard. The Broncos match up well with Brimfield. Tallest player for Brimfield is 5-8 center Ryan Wilbur.

Winchester, another team from the western part of the state, can put 6-3 McKoye Dejaynes in the post and can also have 5-8 guard Blake Lomelino and 5-8 Justin Hardy on the floor at the same time. Of the 15 players on the Wolverines' roster, six are sixth graders. Normal Metcalf must counter Dejaynes, the tallest player in the tournament, with 5-10 center Mitch Styczynski. Forward Isiah Brown at 5-8 is the only other Metcalf player taller that 5-7. The Wildcats are coached by Mike Sondgeroth, who guided the Normal (University) girls team to the IHSA Class A State Tournament in 1994 and 1995.

Grant Park has 6-1 Christian Benson at center and 5-9 Michael Tiemens at forward. How they handle the Effingham St. Anthony big men will be a key factor in the outcome of the game. St. Anthony lists 5-11 Nic Koester and 5-10 Zach Bradshaw at center.

Of the 107 players listed on the rosters of the eight finalists, 93 are seventh graders and 14 are sixth 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: Chandlerville A-C Central 78, Grant Park 82, Cerro Gordo 86, Normal Metcalf 94, Effingham St. Anthony 99, Brimfield 106, Winchester 119 and Carthage 131.

Class 3A

Wenona Fieldcrest (25-0) is the only unbeaten team in a Class 3A field that boasts a combined win-loss record of 162-16, a winning percentage of .910. Seven of the eight teams have three or fewer losses.

Glasford Illini Bluffs (20-2) meets Herscher Limestone (20-1) in the opening game at 10:00 a.m. Then Marshall JHS (20-2) faces Staunton (18-3) in the second game at 11:30 a.m. In Game 3 at 1:00 p.m., it's Wenona Fieldcrest vs. Williamsville (20-1). In the final game, Tolono Unity (17-6) battles Washington MS (22-1).

Glasford Illini Bluffs lists only eight players on its roster, including 5-10 center Trevor Depperman and 5-9 center Cody Cunningham. The Tigers have 5-7 Brad Burton at guard and no other player taller than 5-5. Herscher Limestone has a huge team with seven of its 15 players on the roster 5-10 or taller. The Lightning has 5-10 guards Spike Engelman and Ben Wenzelman, 6-1 center Tom Sullivan and forwards Jake Krumwiede (5-10), Larrin Nottke (5-11), Jordan Ruckman (6-0) and Justin Ruckman (6-0). Only three players on the Herscher Limestone roster are shorter than 5-6.

Marshall's Cubs can put a bearish front line of 5-9 forward Jordan Grooms, 5-10 forward Rodney Troutman and 5-11 center Jared Boyll on the floor at the same time. Staunton can counter with 5-11 center Devin Gerdes and 5-11 forward Jake Mahin.

Wenona Fieldcrest, a perennial boys basketball contender, boasts 5-10 Reed Klendworth at center and 5-9 Zak Schwiderski at forward. Williamsville has no player on its roster of 13 players taller than 5-6. The Bee Bees have only three players 5-6 and all are listed as centers. They are Cody Harn, Wade Rademacher and JJ Watson.

Tolono Unity's tallest player is 5-10 Matt Rice. He has 5-9 Kyle Buhr and 5-9 Mike Bingamon available to join him in the frontline. Washington MS will have a definite size advantage and can put 6-2 center Jared Holloman, 5-11 forward Zach Little, 5-10 Troy Adams, 5-10 Mike Ernst or 5-9 Ben Ryan on the floor in any combination.

Of the 107 players listed on the rosters of the eight finalists, 98 are seventh graders and 9 are sixth 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 150, Staunton 195, Wenona Fieldcrest 205, Herscher Limestone 210, Washington MS 211, Tolono Unity 213, Williamsville 218 and Marshall JHS 232.

Class 4A

Unbeaten Morton JHS (24-0) and East St. Louis Lincoln (17-0) are in opposite brackets and could be on a collision course at the title game in a Class 4A tournament that brings together schools that have had great success in IESA boys basketball.

Country Club Hills Southwood (10-9) meets Springfield Franklin (23-1) in the first game at 10:00 a.m. Then it's Bellwood Roosevelt (14-2) vs. Morton JHS in Game 2 at 11:30 a.m. The third game at 1:00 p.m. features Harvey Brooks (12-1) and East St. Louis Lincoln. Danville North Ridge (24-1) battles Shorewood Troy (20-3) in the last quarterfinal game at 2:30 p.m.

The combined win-loss record of the eight finalists is 144-17, a winning percentage of .894. Seven of the eight have three or fewer losses.

Country Club Hills Southwood faces literally a big challenge in Springfield Franklin. Southwood lists 13 players on its roster and only one is taller than 5-6, and that is 5-7 forward Victor Johnson. Springfield Franklin counters with 6-2 center Willie Wiley, 6-1 forward Ridge Ackerman, 5-10 forward Austin Eagleton, 5-9 forward Seth Riggle and 5-9 forward Joe Bridges.

Bellwood Roosevelt, riding the combined success of its boys and girls teams in recent years, will rely on is quickness against rugged Morton JHS. Bellwood Roosevelt's tallest player is 5-9 center Khali Moore. Morton JHS has 6-2 Matthew Hungate and 5-11 Jeff Roof at center with 5-9 Will Headean at forward.

The Harvey Brooks vs. East St. Louis Lincoln game matches the two tallest teams in the field. Harvey Brooks has a roster of 14 players and only three of them are 5-5 or smaller. The Warriors can put a front line on the floor from among 6-0 center Robert Black, 5-10 center Jonathan Anderson, 5-10 forward King Antonio and 5-10 forward Dyanunhtre Thomas. East St. Louis Lincoln is even taller. The Tigers have 6-0 center Tarkia Haynes, 6-0 forward Trevor Gines, 6-0 center Demarcus Lee, 5-10 forward Emmanuel Ratliff, 5-11 forward Marvin Gilmore and 5-11 forward Devonte Hodges. In fact, only four of the team's 14 players are smaller than 5-7.

Danville North Ridge, has 6-0 center Jaron Cunningham, 5-10 forward Martez Davis and 5-9 center Zach McCoy. Davis is one of two sixth graders on the Ridgerunners' roster. The other is 5-8 forward Chuckie Robinson. Only four of the 14 players listed on the Shorewood Troy roster are taller than 5-5. Tallest of the Trojans is 5-9 Anthony Fearn.

Of the 108 players listed on the rosters of the eight finalists, 96 are seventh graders and 12 are sixth 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: Country Club Hills Southwood 360, Morton JHS 415, Danville North Ridge 524, East St. Louis Lincoln 536, Springfield Franklin 566, Bellwood Roosevelt 707, Harvey Brooks 726 and Shorewood Troy 793.

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