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Seventh Grade Girls Basketball State Finals Begin Saturday

For just the second time in Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) history four champions will be crowned in the Seventh Grade Girls State Basketball Tournament series. Competition in the Class 1A, Class 2A, Class 3A and Class 4A State Final Tournaments begins Saturday (Dec.1) and concludes the following Thursday (Dec. 6) at four sites.

Class 1A will be played at Riverton High School. Class 2A will be at Mt. Pulaski High School. Assumption Central A & M Junior High School will be the site of Class 3A. Normal Chiddix Junior High 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. 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. Beginning in 2006, the seventh grade and eighth grade series have four classes each.

The inaugural seventh grade four-class series state champions were: Springfield Calvary in Class 1A, Havana in Class 2A, Paris Mayo in Class 3A and Quincy in Class 4A. Both Paris Mayo (28-0) and Quincy (25-0) went unbeaten.

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 2007 Seventh Grade State Final Tournaments:

Class 1A

Undefeated Jacksonville Our Saviour, fourth in last year's inaugural Class 1A state final, is the only unbeaten team to advance to the 2007 Class 1A event. The Shamrocks are 22-0 and have outscored their opponents in the regional and sectional by a combined score of 159-19. The only other team to return from last year is Rantoul St. Malachy (15-5), which lost in the quarterfinals.

Ramsey (16-4) meets Bartonville Monroe (18-5) in the first quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. Ottawa St. Columba (21-3) - the only other team in the field with 20 or more wins - battles Effingham Sacred Heart (7-13) in the second game at 11:30 a.m. Grand Ridge (19-5) faces Rantoul St. Malachy in the third quarterfinal at 1:00 p.m. In the last quarterfinal game at 2:30 p.m., Jacksonville Our Saviour plays Springfield Christian (18-2).

Ramsey's roster includes four fifth graders, eight sixth graders and 6 seventh graders. None of its players are taller than 5-4 and the two at 5-4 are the centers. One is sixth grader Samantha Willms and the other is seventh grader Shauna Rainey. Eight of the Lady Rockets are shorter than 5-0.

Bartonville Monroe, a team with five fifth graders, one sixth grader and seven seventh graders, will have the height advantage against Ramsey. The Flyers have 5-9 seventh grader Alexa Ellis at center and 5-6 seventh grader Savannah Feagin at guard.

Ottawa St. Columba can put a front line of seventh graders 5-6 Emily Durdan, 5-5 Allison Taylor and 5-4 Angela Evola on the floor and all three of them are taller than the tallest player for Effingham Sacred Heart, which entered its first game in the regional with a 4-13 won-loss record. In the state series, the Shamrocks are averaging 35 points a game while giving up an average of 17 with no player taller than 5-3 center Megan Nuxoll, a fifth grader.

Grand Ridge is the tallest team in the Class 1A state final. The Mohawks can put 5-9 Elizabeth Buckley or 5-8 Alice Salt at center along with 5-6 forwards Brianne Danko and Abby Koetz. All four are seventh graders. Tallest players for Rantoul St. Malachy are 5-4 seventh grade guard Alex Roessler and 5-4 sixth grade center Malarie Elam.

Jacksonville Our Saviour has outscored three opponents in the state series prior to Saturday's quarterfinal game by a combined 159-19. The Shamrocks have only one player taller than 5-3. Brittany Birdsell is a 5-5 seventh grade center. Springfield Christian has the height advantage if the Wildcats put 5-9 sixth grade center Mel Bremhorst, 5-5 seventh grader Mauri Wilhelm and 5-5 seventh grade forward Emma Berry on the floor together.

Of the 94 players listed on the rosters of the finalists, 12 are fifth graders, 28 are sixth graders and 54 are seventh graders.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 7-1A is the smallest class. Enrollments of the eight finalists are: Effingham Sacred Heart 27, Ottawa St. Columbia 41, Rantoul St. Malachy 41, Jacksonville Our Saviour 69, Ramsey 69, Bartonville Monroe 70, Grand Ridge 72 and Springfield Christian 75.

Class 2A

Unbeaten Glasford Illini Bluffs (23-0), last year's Class 3A third place team, and Champaign St. Matthew (22-3), third last year in the Class 2A State Tournament, are in opposite brackets and lead a field of eight schools all with 17 or more wins this year. The combined won-loss record of the 2007 field is 151-35, a winning percentage of .811.

Perennial power Normal Epiphany (17-6) faces Champaign St. Matthew in the opening quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. Then Kincaid South Fork (18-2) battles perennial power Springfield Christ The King (18-6) at 11:30 a.m. In the third game at 1:00 p.m., Kinderhook Western (17-4) faces Glasford Illini Bluffs. Assumption Central A&M (19-6) battles Seneca (17-8) at 2:30 p.m.

Normal Epiphany can throw a front line of 5-5 centers Sarah Gibbens or Irene Cassidy along with 5-7 forward Megan O'Donnell and 5-6 forward Taylor Tow at Champaign St. Matthew. Two years ago Epiphany won the last seventh grade Class A state final and that same team won last year's first eighth grade Class 2A crown. A year ago, Champaign St. Matthew lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Havana and then beat Lexington for third place. This year, half the 14 players on the Raiders. roster are 5-6 or taller. The centers are 5-8 Erica Wallen, 5-8 Julia Hinders and 5-7 Sarah Bullock. The forwards are 5-6 Corey Bilger, 5-6 Brianna Musgrove and 5-6 Genny Harrington. Brittani Musgrove is a 5-6 guard.

Five of the 11 players on the Kincaid South Fork roster are fifth or sixth graders. Tallest players on the team are 5-6 guard Madison Merano and 5-6 forward Lexi Crowder. Carley Prince and Tristan Payne are 5-5 seventh grade forwards. Springfield Christ The King has only one player taller than 5-3, center Claire Fuchs.

Kinderhook Western is by far the tallest team in Class 2A. The Wildcats can throw 5-11 Kaylee Irvin, 5-10 Evan Colston, 5-10 Tabitha Winner and 5-9 Tori Hinch at an opponent. Colston is a sixth grader, the rest are in seventh grade. Glasford Illini Bluffs, on the other hand, has only two players taller than 5-4. They are 5-5 seventh grade center Taylor McClintock and 5-5 sixth grade forward Adrianna Kemper.

Assumption Central A&M beat perennial power Effingham St. Anthony by 12 points in the sectional, 34-22. The Raiders have 5-9 Breanne Senger at forward and 5-7 Kaitlyn Corzine at center. Six of the 11 players on the Assumption Central A&M roster are 5-5 or taller. Seneca has 5-8 Molly Novotney at center along with 5-5 Taylor Schmitz and 5-5 forward Jessica Elliott.

Of the 103 players listed on the rosters of the finalists, 3 are fifth graders, 11 are sixth graders and 89 are in seventh grade. 20 of the players are listed at 5-6 or taller.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 2A is the second smallest class. Enrollments of the eight finalists in are: Champaign St. Matthew 93, Kinderhook Western 95, Normal Epiphany 98, Springfield Christ The King 100, Kincaid South Fork 118, Seneca 133, Assumption Central A&M 135 and Glasford Illini Bluffs 141.

Class 3A

Defending Class 3A champion Paris Mayo, and last year's Class 2A champion Havana, lead the eight-team field into the 2007 Class 3A state final. Paris Mayo (24-0) is one of two unbeaten teams in the field. The other is Eureka (21-0). They are in opposite brackets. Havana (21-4) is one of three other teams in the field with 20 or more wins. The combined won-loss record of the eight is 159-21, a sizzling winning percentage of .883.

Paris Mayo meets Dixmoor Rosa Parks (13-3) in the first quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. Then New Berlin JHS (20-6) meets Havana at 11:30 a.m. At 1:00 p.m., St. Joseph (20-2) battles Monticello (22-1). Eureka goes against Auburn JHS at Divernon (18-5) at 2:30 p.m.

Paris Mayo, with only four players on its 15-person roster shorter than 5-5, has outscored its three state series opponents 104-34, a score margin per game of 34-11. The Redbirds have 5-10 Cayla Hoffman, 5-8 Alexis York and 5-7 Megan Temples at center. Then they can bring 5-8 Laura Baty, 5-7 Carmen Jones and, 5-7 Jessica Uselman at forward. Five players on this year's roster were on last year's championship team. They are Breanna Storm, Ashlee Sinclair, Jessica Hopper, Megan Temples and Laura Baty. Dixmoor Rosa Parks has 5-9 Tanika Moore at forward and has no other player on the roster taller than 5-3.

New Berlin JHS has 6-1 seventh grader Amber Kloppe at center and can flank her with 5-6 forwards Josie Mutch and Brittney Williams, who is a sixth grader. Havana returns four players from last year's title team. They are 5-4 forward Tori Hackman, 5-5 guard Kelsey Snowden, 5-4 guard Morgan Martindale and 5-9 center Hannah Huber.

St. Joseph has only three players on the roster taller than 5-4. They are 5-5 forward McKenzie Helmick, 5-5 forward McKenzie Redfern and 5-5 center Delaine Florey. Monticello can counter with 5-7 centers Grace Blickhan and Olivia Huisinga and 5-7 forward Shelby Deornellas.

Eureka outscored its three state series opponents (Washington Central, Metamora GS and Pontiac JHS) 106-34, a per game average score of 35-11. The Hornets have 5-6 Breanna Hudson, 5-5 Whitley Gregoire and 5-5 Michaela Balducci at the forward spot along with 5-5 guards Molly Babbs and Caitlyn Martin. Auburn JHS at Divernon is the new school resulting from the consolidation of the Auburn and Divernon school districts. The Trojans have 5-9 center Alisha Hamilton and 5-8 center Amanda Mortimer. Only other player on the roster taller than 5-4 is 5-5 forward Emily Pacini.

Of the 108 players listed on the rosters of the finalists, 15 are sixth graders and 93 are in seventh grade.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Enrollments of the eight finalists in Class 3A are: Havana 167, St. Joseph 175, Paris Mayo 191, Auburn JHS at Divernon 219, Eureka 239, New Berlin JHS 248, Dixmoor Rosa Parks 279 and Monticello 286.

Class 4A

All eight teams advancing to this year-s state final are making their first appearance in the Class 4A event, but most of them are no strangers to IESA state final basketball competition. Three of the eight - Springfield Franklin (20-0), Champaign Jefferson (25-0) and South Holland McKinley (12-0) - are unbeaten. The combined won-loss record of the field is 147-21, a winning percentage of .875.

Springfield Franklin and Champaign Jefferson open the tournament in the first quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. South Holland McKinley follows in its 11:30 game against Frankfort Summit Hill (22-1). Romeoville Martinez (15-4) plays Cahokia Wirth (16-8) at 1:00 p.m. In the finale, Bloomington JHS (19-3) battles Ottawa Shepherd (18-6) at 2:30 p.m.

The first game may well be determined by the players who prowl in and around the basket. Springfield Franklin has 6-0 Meghan Fetter at forward along with 5-7 forward Emily Vasconcelles. The Falcons also have 5-7 guards Morgan Ceja and Ashton Williams. Champaign Jefferson will counter with a team roster than has only two players shorter than 5-5. They are 5-3 guard Chantel Meacham and 5-3 guard Sarah Donohue. Meanwhile, up front the Jaguars have 5-11 center Stacia Simmons, 5-10 center Lauren Cloyd, 5-9 center Emma McNussen and 5-7 forwards Lindsey Rogan and Libby Cocagne.

Springfield Franklin has outscored its three state series opponents (Jacksonville Turner, defending champion Quincy and Rochester) 145-72, an average per game score of 48-24. Champaign Jefferson has outscored its regional and sectional opponents 125-58, an average per game score of 41-19.

South Holland McKinley, even with 6-0 Kayla Holmes, 6-0 Romi Gally, 5-9 Itzel Banuelos, and 5-8 Aliyah Owens, has used its quickness to come into the state final unbeaten. South Holland McKinley has outscored three state series opponents 105-68. Frankfort Summit Hill has 6-1 center Sarah McPhillips.

Romeoville Martinez lists six guards, four forwards all 5-7 or taller and 5-10 center Kiera Currie. The forwards are 5-11 Kalie Dodmead, 5-10 Shaquil Hudson, 5-10 Candace Brand and 5-7 Shakyra Smith. Cahokia Wirth lists 10 of the 15 players on its roster taller than 5-5. The centers are 5-10 Cornita Cannon and Teykia Cooper. At forward the Lady Warriors have 5-11 Emmonnie Henderson, 5-10 Daria Bills, and 5-8 Ambershay Crogier.

Bloomington JHS has 5-9 forwards Mary Lawrence and Molly Lawrence. The Knights also have 5-6 Gabriela Calhoun and 5-4 Cierra Brown at guard. Ottawa Shepherd has no player taller than 5-6. Three of the Rams are 5-6 with Samantha Robinson and Kaitlin Vanderheide lasted as centers and Kelsey Kinney at forward.

Of the 98 players listed on the rosters of the eight finalists, 11 are sixth graders and 87 are seventh graders.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 4A is the largest. Enrollments of the eight finalists are: South Holland McKinley 301, Ottawa Shepherd 444, Champaign Jefferson 464, Romeoville Martinez 530, Springfield Franklin 588, Cahokia Wirth 659, Frankfort Summit Hill 808, Bloomington JHS 836.

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