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IESA Eighth Grade Girls Basketball State Final Tournaments Begin Saturday

For the second straight week the Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) will crown four girls basketball champions, this time in the eighth grade state series. Competition in the Class 1A, Class 2A, Class 3A and Class 4A State Final Tournaments begins Saturday (Dec. 9) and concludes Thursday (Dec. 14) at four sites.

Class 1A will be played at the Divernon High School gym. Class 2A will be hosted by Normal Epiphany at Bloomington Central Catholic High School. Clinton Junior High will be the site of Class 3A. Stanford Olympia will host Class 4A.

Five schools advanced their eighth grade team to the state tournament while their seventh grade team played in this week.s tournaments. Those schools qualifying teams to both state finals are Ottawa Wallace in Class 1A, Effingham St. Anthony in Class 2A, Paris Mayo in Class 3A and Mattoon and Forrest Prairie Central in 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. 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 girls basketball began in 1979. There was one-class competition from 1979-86, and in 1986 separate state series were conducted for seventh graders and eighth graders for the first time. From 1990-2005 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 2006 state tournament format and playing schedule is different than in previous years. Until this 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 Girls 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 2006 Eighth Grade State Final Tournaments:

Class 1A

Five of the eight teams come into the quarterfinal round with 19 or more wins. The combined won-loss record of the eight is 138-33, a winning percentage of .807. That includes East St. Louis Jackson at 6-9.

Ottawa Wallace, the largest school in the field with a seventh-eighth grade enrollment of 73, meets Pana Sacred Heart, the smallest school in the Class 1A tournament with an enrollment of 21, in the last quarterfinal game Saturday. Ottawa Wallace is 20-4 in eighth grade games while Pana Sacred Heart is 19-2. Ottawa Wallace has three members of the seventh grade team playing up on the eighth grade team. The trio . Jessica Jessen, Rosa Williams and Alyssa Winchester -- scored 25 of the seventh grade team.s 29 points in its 30-29 quarterfinal loss to London Mills Valley. Pana Sacred Heart lists just seven players on its roster.

Crescent City (19-3) meets Washington St. Patrick (19-3) in the first quarterfinal game. Only four of the 12 players on Crescent City.s roster are eighth graders, with five in seventh grade and three sixth graders. Washington St. Patrick has 5-10 eighth grader Lexie Barra in the post. Crescent City has no one on its roster taller than 5-3.

In the second quarterfinal game, Griggsville-Perry (17-3) battles Decatur Our Lady of Lourdes (21-3). Marlee Bradshaw, at 5-8, is the Eagles. tallest player. Decatur Our Lady of Lourdes can counter with 5-7 center Hannah House.

East St. Louis Jackson center Janell Anthony is 5-9 and will have to battle a front line from Royal Prairieview Ogden that can include 5-10 Rachel Mullvain, 5-9 Katelyn Behrens and 5-8 Katie Trail. Royal Prairieview Ogden is the tallest team in the field.

Of the 87 players listed on the rosters of the finalists, one is a fifth grader, 9 are sixth graders, 20 are seventh graders and 57 are eighth graders.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 1A is the smallest class. Enrollments of the eight finalists are: Pana Sacred Heart 21, Washington St. Patrick 38, Crescent City 40, East St. Louis Jackson 44, Griggsville-Perry 61, Decatur Our Lady of Lourdes 61, Royal Prairieview Ogden 63 and Ottawa Wallace 73.

Class 2A

Four of the eight finalists bring unbeaten records into the quarterfinals and all eight have at least 20 wins. The combined won-loss record of the eight teams is a staggering 179-8, a winning percentage of .957. One of the unbeaten teams is in each quarterfinal game.

In the opener, 24-0 Winchester faces 20-3 Effingham St. Anthony. Winchester boasts 5-10 Tiffany King in the post with 5-6 Andrea Lietz, 5-7 Rachel Ross and 5-6 Kirsten Jefferson available for the front line. St. Anthony has 5-9 Leah Dallmier at center and can put 5-6 Maggie Brown, 5-7 Megan Zumbahlen, 5-6 Cheslyn Litke or 5-7 Samantha Zerrusen on the floor at forward.

Peoria Pleasant Valley (20-0) faces Champaign Judah Christian (23-1) in the second quarterfinal. With 5-10 Natecia Augusta in the middle, the Panthers also have 5-8 Laparis Williams and 5-8 Jessica Sacco at forward. Champaign Judah Christian, with only eight players on the roster, has 5-8 Uzuri Williams at center.

Perennial powers Normal Epiphany (25-0) and Springfield Blessed Sacrament (23-1) square off in the third quarterfinal game. It has the potential to be a state tournament classic. Epiphany has a front line that can include 5-10 Jess Reinhart, 5-9 Ellen Walters and 5-9 Mia Hartung, but guard Allie Norton may hold the key to any Epiphany success. Blessed Sacrament has 5-11 Kasi Korza, 5-9 Eria Saal, 5-8 Molly Drake and 5-8 Carly Coe up front to go with 5-6 guards Maria Lowis, Emily Delvo, Morgan Brinker and Lauren Reiser.

In the nightcap, unbeaten LaHarpe (24-0) meets Seneca (20-3) in another battle of perennial girls powerhouses. LaHarpe is led by 5-10 center Carter Wear and has 5-6 Bali Campbell at forward. No other player for the Eagles is taller than 5-5. Tallest players for Seneca are 5-8 center Victoria Imes and 5-8 forward Vanessa Albarran.

Of the 86 players listed on the rosters of the finalists, 10 are seventh graders and 76 are eighth graders.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 1A is the second smallest class. Enrollments of the eight finalists are: LaHarpe 80, Springfield Blessed Sacrament 84, Champaign Judah Christian 90, Peoria Pleasant Valley 95, Normal Epiphany 96, Effingham St. Anthony 99, Winchester 119 and Seneca 136.

Class 3A

Unbeaten Warrensburg-Latham (22-0) heads the Class 3A field that includes six teams with at least 20 wins. Perennial powerhouse Paris Mayo (24-1) has the most wins. Three members of the Mayo team played Thursday (Dec. 7) for the seventh grade Class 3A title. They are 5-4 guard Macy Winkler, 5-8 forward Harley Wilson and 5-8 center Ashley Lawrence. Warrensburg-Latham and Paris Mayo are in opposite brackets.

The combined won-loss record of the eight finalists is 162-20, a winning percentage of .890.

Petersburg PORTA (21-1) meets St. Joseph (18-3) in the first quarterfinal game. St. Joseph has 5-10 Meghan Martz in the post. Petersburg PORTA has no player taller than 5-7.

In the second quarterfinal Warrensburg-Latham faces Pleasant Plains (15-7). Warrensburg-Latham is not a big team with 5-8 forward Alyssa Riley the only player taller than 5-6 among the 12 players on the roster. Pleasant Plains matches up with the Cardinals. Pleasant Plains has 5-8 Nicole Henderson and 5-7 Jenna Sudeth at center with 5-7 Savannah Little and 5-8 Josie Bensko at forward.

A pair of 21-win teams will meet in the third quarterfinal game. El Paso-Gridley (21-4) battles Bushnell-Prairie City (21-2) in the 1:00 p.m. game. Bushnell-Prairie City has the height advantage. The Lady Braves have 5-10 Anne Rauschert at center and 5-8 Bridjet Blout at forward. El Paso-Gridley lists three of its 12 players at 5-7. They are forwards Braden Hickey, Gwen Romines and Lexi Lindsey.

Paris Mayo faces a challenge in 20-2 Calumet City Schrum in the final quarterfinal game of the day. Schrum has 5-10 Diamond Crosby at center with 5-7 Kiara Lewis and 5-7 Sharia Coleman available for front line duty. Center Jenny Knoepfel is the tallest Paris Mayo player at 5-9. The tournament experience gained by Macy Winkler, Harley Wilson and Ashley Lawrence in the seventh grade Class 3A state final could be a factor in the game.

Of the 98 players listed on the rosters of the finalists, 16 are seventh graders and 82 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. Enrollments of the eight finalists are: St. Joseph 160, Bushnell-Prairie City 172, El Paso-Gridley 178, Warrensburg-Latham 183, Pleasant Plains 189, Paris Mayo 191, Calumet City Schrum 224 and Petersburg PORTA 263.

Class 4A

There are four unbeaten teams in Class 4A and three of them are in the top bracket -- Springfield Franklin (19-0), Country Club Hills Southwood (18-0) and Granite City Grigsby (17-0). The other unbeaten is East Peoria Central (22-0) in the lower bracket.

The eight schools bring a dazzling combined won-loss record of 164-8, a winning percentage of .953, into the tournament. Only one school -- Mattoon with 4 -- has more than two losses. The only team with a loss on its record in the upper bracket is Mokena and the Meteors are 22-1. The race for the first-ever eighth grade Class 4A championship should be a great one.

Unbeaten Springfield Franklin faces Mokena in the opening quarterfinal game. Mokena has 6-0 center Amanda West and Springfield Franklin can counter with 5-11 center Amber Cason.

Granite City Grigsby, a first-year member school in IESA, can put a lineup on the floor with no player shorter than 5-6. The Gators can draw from 5-9 seventh grade center Mariah Hutchins, and 5-9 Natalie Anderson, 5-8 Halley Robertson, 5-9 Ashley Deckard or 5-7 Kelsie Vandergriff, all eighth graders. Country Club Hills Southwood can match up with 5-9 Kristina Collie, 5-8 Raven Logan and 5-8 Sidnica Esco.

Bolingbrook Humphrey (23-2) faces Forrest Prairie Central (23-1) in the third quarterfinal game. Bolingbrook Humphrey will pit its athleticism against Forrest Prairie Central whose seventh grade team was beaten for the first (and only) time in the Class 4A quarterfinals last Saturday. A comparison of their roster heights shows them to be nearly identical.

Mattoon brings a 20-4 record into its quarterfinal game against East Peoria Central. Mattoon boasts the tallest roster in the field with three players -- center Bre Sanders, forward Holli Gromelski and center Shannon Lowry -- listed at 5-9. East Peoria Central, coached by former Ms. Illinois Basketball Tammy VanOppen, has only two players taller than 5-6. They are 5-9 center Paige Ashley and 5-8 center Kelsey Shoemake.

Of the 102 players listed on the rosters of the finalists, 24 are seventh graders and 78 are eighth graders.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 4A is the largest class. Enrollments of the eight finalists are: Forrest Prairie Central 335, Country Club Hills Southwood 360, East Peoria Central 417, Bolingbrook Humphrey 519, Mattoon 528, Springfield Franklin 516, Mokena 591 and Granite City Grigsby 758.

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