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2009 Seventh Grade IESA Girls Basketball State Finals Begin Saturday

For the fourth 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. 5) and concludes the following Thursday (Dec. 10) at four sites.

Class 1A will be played at Normal Chiddix Junior High School. Class 2A will be at Riverton High School. Assumption Central A & M Junior High School will be the site of Class 3A. Normal Parkside Junior High School 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 late 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 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.

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 2009 Seventh Grade State Final Tournaments:

Class 1A

Undefeated Odell (24-0) and once-beaten Gardner (21-1) and Carrollton GS (17-1) lead the field into the state final where the combined won-loss record of the eight teams is 143-27, a winning percentage of .841.

Gardner plays Bartonville Monroe (19-3) in the first quarterfinal game at 10:00 a. m. Sigel St. Michael's (17-3) battles Springfield Christian (18-3) in the second game at 11:30 a.m. Odell and Carrollton GS meet in the third quarterfinal game at 1:00 p.m. Homer Heritage (15-7) faces Cissna Park (12-9) in the last quarterfinal at 2:30 p.m. The semifinals will be Saturday evening at 5:00 and 6:30 p.m.

Gardner lost to Odell, 34-21, during the regular season and the two teams are in opposite brackets. A rematch is a possibility for schools that are approximately only 20 mines apart. Defense is the key to Gardner's success. Coach Rhae Wise's Tigers are all seventh graders and have outscored three state series opponents 104-42. The starting lineup includes 5-0 guard Emily Foley, 5-5 point guard Lexi Posing, 5-2 forward Sam McCaughn, 5-4 forward Sophie Barna and 5-9 center Bryanna Demoraes.

Bartonville Monroe has only five seventh graders on its 13-player roster. They are 5-2 forward Emily Berres, 5-1 forward Taylor Mercer, 5-5 guard Lauren Roth, 5-4 forward Brittany Crank and 5-2 guard Sarah Heuermann. Tallest player on the roster is 5-5 sixth grader Mackenzie Widmer.

Sigel St. Michael's is the smallest school in the field with a seventh-eighth grade enrollment of 24. Veteran Coach Rita Kortte has her team in the state final for the third time in the four-year history of the four-class system. Of the nine players on the roster, only three are seventh graders. They are 5-1 forward Hannah Beuker, 5-1 guard Madison Butler and 5-6 forward Bailey Platz. The Sharpshooters took third last year.

Springfield Christian is making its third straight appearance in the state final and will go with 5-9 seventh grader Faelyn Powell at center. Powell and 5-5 forward Alex Yarnik are the only two players on the roster taller than 5-4. The Wildcats were state champions a year ago. In their three state series games they won by 1, 3 and 12 points, beating Decatur Our Lady of Lourdes 20-12 in the sectional.

Odell is making its first appearance in the state final. The Rams beat traditional contenders Pontiac St. Mary's 35-13 and Lexington 35-18 in the regional before stopping Tonica 33-24 in the sectional. Odell took a 17-3 lead in the second quarter of the sectional before posting the 9-point win. Starters for Coach Heather Akoff are 5-0 point guard Kelly Pagel, 5-8 center Braxton Thweatt, 5-5 forward Ashton Farris, 5-5 forward Jorden Grieff and 5-4 forward Ashley Fox. The roster has only nine players.

Carrollton GS is the tallest team among the eight finalists. Coach Geoff Driskill starts 5-7 Madison Strugble at forward, 5-5 Madison Mouintain at forward, 5-9 Rachel Williams at center, 5-3 Michaela Weber at guard and 5-0 McKenzie Ruyle at point guard. The Hawks have been impressive on offense this year. In the regional they outscored two opponents 60-28 and stopped Bluffs 29-8 in the sectional. The only loss was by 3 points to Winchester.

Homer Heritage has only seven players on the roster and all are seventh graders. They are 4-11 guard Kendra Greenlee, 5-0 guard Courtney Rothermel, 5-4 guard Micaela Childress, 5-4 guard Elizabeth Holloman, 5-6 forward Taylor Hughes, 5-7 forward Jenna Davis and 5-8 center Allison Jones.

Cissna Park has only one player taller than 5-3 on its roster of 15 players of which 4 are fifth graders, 7 are sixth graders 4 are seventh graders. The seventh graders are 5-3 Lexie Knake, 5-3 forward Emily Walder, 5-2 forward Bethany Merkle and 5-3 forward Marti Maul.

Of the 95 players listed on the rosters of the finalists, 6 are fifth graders, 23 are sixth graders and 66 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: Sigel St. Michael's 24, Cissna Park 47, Springfield Christian 65, Gardner 68, Homer Heritage 76, Bartonville Monroe 77, Carrollton GS 77 and Odell 78.

Class 2A

Unbeaten Champaign St. Matthew is one of five teams in the Class 2A state tournament with 20 ore more wins. Four of them are in the upper bracket and the survivor of that competition Saturday will have admittedly earned a spot in the title game. The combined won-loss record of the eight finalists is 151-30, a winning percentage of .834. The combined record of the teams in the upper bracket is 88-8.

Normal Metcalf (21-1) plays Springfield Christ The King (22-2) in the opening quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. Then Champaign St. Matthew (24-0) faces Lewistown Central (21-4) at 11:30 a.m. Onarga Iroquois West (22-1) battles Beecher City (13-7) at 1:00 p.m. Roanoke-Benson (16-6) meets Brimfield (12-9) in the 2:30 p.m. game. The semifinals will be Saturday at 5:00 and 6:30 p.m.

With 5-11 center Katie Olson an inside force, Normal Metcalf is enjoying one of its best seasons ever. The Wildcats' only loss was to Downs Tri-Valley, and they posted wins over Bloomington Cornerstone, Bloomington JHS, Bloomington Holy Trinity, Normal Chiddix and Normal Epiphany during the regular season. Normal Metcalf stopped Bloomington Holy Trinity 16-13 in the regional final before topping Mt. Pulaski 34-20 in the sectional. Other starters for the Wildcats are 5-5 guard Abigail Crockett, 5-3 guard Jordynn Palmer, 5-7 forward August Will and 5-8 forward Lexi Seward. Crockett is a force on defense and Seward can score from anywhere.

Springfield Christ The King is averaging 40 points a game in the state series and has given up only 38 points in those three games. The Cougars' only losses were to Chatham Glenwood and Springfield Blessed Sacrament. The starting lineup includes 5-4 forward Celeste Holmes, 5-6 center Allison Brent, 5-4 forward Kaylin Tate, 5-3 guard Emily Sestak and 5-0 guard Dani Healey. Kaylin Tate is the leading scorer.

Champaign St. Matthew is big, strong and mobile. This group of girls has lost only two games over the past three years. They were 21-0 in fifth grade and lost twice in sixth grade last year. In this year's state series the Raiders have outscored three opponents 117-52. The starting lineup includes 5-8 forward Lexi Wallen, 5-6 guard Nikki Bilger, 5-1 guard Katie Sloniger, 5-9 forward Erin Connelly and 5-9 center Chloe John. A force to be reckoned with is Lexi Wallen.

Seeded third in the regional, Lewistown Central beat top-seeded Table Grove VIT 23-22 in the regional final and then stopped Kinderhook Western 25-17 in the sectional. The Indians will be at a height disadvantage against Champaign St. Matthew. Tallest player on the roster is 5-8 forward Mallory Battefeld. Center Ariel Towery is 5-7.

Onarga Iroquois West's roster includes 7 seventh graders and 8 sixth graders. Coach Ginger Meyer said those were all the girls that came out for basketball this year. Three of the starters are seventh graders: 5-2 guard Elena Sanchez, 5-0 guard Paige Arends and 5-5 center Taylor Cultra. The sixth grade starters are 5-1 forward Ariel Medina and 5-5 forward Andrea Fuoss. The team's only loss was to Cissna Park. The Raiders outscored two regional opponents 67-21 and stopped Elwood GS 39-19 in the sectional.

Beecher City has only nine players on the roster and six are seventh graders. They are 5-2 guard Chandler Ward, 5-4 forwards Alicia Adams and Jensyn Morrison, 5-5 forward Caitlin Sloan and 5-6 centers Heather Reed and Chloe Meek.

Roanoke-Benson has only two players taller than 5-5 on the 15-player roster. They are 5-7 seventh grade center Payton Hostetler and 5-7 sixth grade forward Olivia Rossman.

Perennial contender Brimfield has won its three state series games by 5, 5 and 1 point, taking the sectional 21-20 over Peoria Hts. St. Thomas. The Indians can put a front line of 5-7 Riley Keith, 5-6 Lauren Cramer and 5-7 Ellen Kelch on the floor, but only one other player (5-5 Liddy Arp) is taller than 5-4.

Of the 100 players listed on the rosters of the finalists, 17 are sixth graders and 83 are seventh graders.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 7-2A is the second smallest class. Enrollments of the eight finalists are: Roanoke-Benson 83, Champaign St. Matthew 89, Normal Metcalf 97, Brimfield 99, Springfield Christ The King 110, Lewistown Central 118, Onarga Iroquois West 126 and Beecher City 130.

Class 3A

It should by "Katie Bar The Door" when unbeatens Farmington Central (24-0) and Litchfield (23-0) square off in the very first game of the Class 3A state final. The rest of the day may be anticlimactic, or will it?

The first quarterfinal game begins at 10:00 a.m. Then St. Joseph (15-8) faces El Paso-Gridley (21-4) at 11:30 a.m. Pleasant Plains (19-5) battles Lockport Kelvyn Grove (15-5) in the third game at 1:00 p.m. Maria-Forsyth (17-4) plays Sullivan (17-6) at 2:30 p.m. The semifinal games are at 5:00 and 6:30 p.m.

Farmington Central may be making only its first appearance in the Class 3A state final, but basketball is a religion in the community. And this year's team is winning state series games by biblical proportions. The Farmers stopped traditional contender Havana 46-10 and then traditional contender Glasford Illini Bluffs 43-9 in the regional before blasting Germantown Hills 49-13 in the sectional. Farmington Central has a roster of 15 players and only 4 are taller than 5-4. They are 5-8 Hannah Jostes, 5-7 Brianna Rutledge, 5-6 Caroline Fletcher and 5-5 KcKenzie Skaggs.

Litchfield has only eight players on its roster but has won every game this year by double digits. Coach Chris Baugher, who regularly coaches the eighth grade team, took over the seventh grade squad a few weeks ago. Center Riley Scharf is the tallest player on the team at 5-7 and its leading scorer. Forwards are 5-6 Ally Smith and 5-6 Jasmine Thurman. Point guard is 5-4 Tessa Steffens. The other guard is 5-3 Peyton Matthews. Litchfield has outscored three state series opponents 130-29, including a 43-4 win in the sectional.

St. Joseph is making its third appearance in four years and has only one player on its roster of 9 taller than 5-2. She is 5-8 center Alyssa Beals. The Panthers have managed to hold off their state series opponents, including a 10-7 win over Herscher Limestone in the sectional.

Five of the nine players on the El Paso-Gridley roster are 5-6 or taller. At 5-6 are forwards Shannon Roark, Michelle Bigger, Siara Porter and center Morgan Henkelman. Forward Denyce Uphoff is 5-8. El Paso-Gridley has roared by three state series opponents by a combined score of 88-27, including a 22-3 win over Morris Saratoga in the sectional.

Traditional contender Pleasant Plains has 5-9 Peyton Conner and 5-8 Summer Sabo in the post. Forward Rachel Smith is 5-6. Seeded No. 2 in the regional, the Redbirds beat their first two opponents by a combined 80-22 before stopping No. 1 seed Auburn JHS at Divernon 28-26 in overtime in the title game. Then Pleasant Plains rolled Beardstown 42-7 in the sectional.

Lockport Kelvyn Grove will rely on quickness to carry it through the state final. The Hornets have three players 5-5 or taller on a roster of 11. Tallest is 5-7 center Morgan Pytlewski, a sixth grader. At 5-6 is seventh grade center Zoe Bruni and at 5-5 is forward Cassidy Drabek, also a sixth grader.

Maroa-Forsyth, seeded No. 2 in the regional, battled its way past its first two opponents by 6 and 3 points before stopping top-seeded Downs Tri-Valley 30-26 in the regional title game. The sectional was even tougher with the Trojans beating Washington Central 35-34. Tallest player on the roster of 9 is 5-6 center Jasmine Gregory.

Sullivan has traveled a rugged tourney trail to get to the state final. The Redskins, seeded No. 2 in the regional, beat Pana JHS 30-27 in the regional semifinal and top-seeded Teutopolis 27-18 in the regional final. Then Sullivan stopped Marshall JHS 32-24 in the sectional. Center Brittin Boyer is the tallest player on the team at 5-7. Forward April Shuman is 5-6. The other nine players are 5-5 or smaller.

Of the 87 players listed on the rosters of the finalists, 5 are sixth graders and 82 are seventh graders.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 7-3A is the second largest class. Enrollments of the eight finalists are: Lockport Kelvyn Grove 143, Maria-Forsyth 147, Sullivan 169, El Paso-Gridley 192, Farmington Central 209, St. Joseph 209, Litchfield 230 and Pleasant Plains 244.

Class 4A

Four of the eight teams in the state final have two losses or less. The combined won-loss record of the eight teams is an impressive 150-28, a winning percentage of .843.

New Lenox Liberty (21-1) played Minooka (17-4) in the first quarterfinal game at 10:00 a.m. Then Chatham Glenwood (19-1) plays Chicago Heights Washington (13-10) at 11:30 a.m. Mattoon (20-2) battles Mokena (21-4) at 1:00 p.m. Cahokia Wirth (20-4) meets Normal Parkside (19-2) at 2:30 p.m. The semifinal games will be played at 5:00 and 6:30 p.m.

The Patriots from New Lenox Liberty can bring some size in 6-0 Kauai Bradley, 5-9 Alyssa Jurges, 5-8 Emily Ray and 5-8 Tessa Wheeler. New Lenox Liberty stopped Bolingbrook Jane Addams, 36-24, in the sectional after winning regional games by 22 and 14 points.

Minooka will counter with 5-11 Amber Scara, 5-9 Kierli McLemen and 5-7 Josie Henderson. The Indians have played solid defense in their three state series games limiting opponents to 14, 21 and 20 points. But the offense has not been overwhelming scoring 17, 25 and 27 points, respectively.

Chatham Glenwood has been impressive in its three state series games. The Titans opened the regional with a 54-10 win over Jacksonville Turner, and topped Springfield Franklin 32-23 in the title game before posting an 18-17 win over highly-regarded Rochester. Chatham Glenwood's only loss was at home to Taylorville. The starting lineup includes 5-7 forwards Madlyn Lawrence and Parker Bandy, 5-7 center Karah Bell and 5-6 guards Maggie Juhlin and Kelly Graves.

Chicago Heights Washington was seeded second in the regional but beat No. 1 seed Lansing Memorial 32-19 in the title game. Then the Spartans rolled past Harvey Brooks 52-35 in the sectional. Seven of the 11 players on the roster are seventh graders, including 5-9 center Katherine Strong, 5-8 centers Alicia Redmond and Crystal Lackey and 5-8 forward Salena Conway.

Mattoon outscored its two regional opponents by a combined 73-20 before stopping Clinton 21-10. Tallest players on the team are Alicia Valdez, Breanna Booker and Madeline Birchbichler, all 5-7 and all listed as centers.

Mokena matches up to Mattoon almost identically. Center Taylor Simmons is 5-8 and center Tatum Carroll is 5-7. The Meteors were seeded No. 1 in the regional and beat No. 2 seed Frankfort Summit Hill 40-39 in the regional title game before disposing of highly-regarded Peotone 27-15 in the sectional.

Cahokia Wirth comes into the state final with perhaps the tallest team in Class 4A. Eight of the Lady Warriors are 5-6 or taller. Center Brinae Cunningham is 5-11. Seeded second in the regional Cahokia Wirth topped No. 1 seed East St. Louis Lincoln 32-28 in the title game before beating Alton 24-21 in the sectional.

Normal Parkside was seeded second in the regional and topped No. 1 seed Normal Kingsley 31-29 in the title game. Then the Pythons stopped Morton JHS 27-23 in the sectional. Tallest player on the roster is 5-9 center Natalie Freeman. At 5-8 are Anna Morphey and sixth grader Kailey Brandon.

Of the 112 players listed on the rosters of the finalists, 13 are sixth graders and 99 are seventh graders.

In IESA competition, school enrollments are determined by the students in seventh and eighth grade. Class 7-4A is the largest class. Enrollments of the eight finalists are: Chicago Heights Washington 500, Mattoon 512, Cahokia Wirth 558, Mokena 563, Normal Parkside 602, Chatham Glenwood 648, New Lenox Liberty 671 and Minooka 761.

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