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2012 Eighth Grade IESA Girls Basketball State Finals Begin Saturday

For the second straight week, the Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) will crown four girls basketball champions, this time in the 8th grade state series. Competition in the Class 1A, Class 2A, Class 3A and Class 4A State Final Tournaments begins Saturday (December 8) and concludes the following Thursday (December 13) at four sites. This is the seventh year of IESA four-class girls basketball.

Class 1A will be played at Clinton Junior High School, while Class 2A is being played at Auburn High School. Warrensburg-Latham High School is the site of the 3A tournament and rounding out the group is Rochester Junior High School which is the site of 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, December 13 with the third place game set for 6:00 p.m. and the championship game scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Any changes in the playing status of each of the four tournaments will be posted on the IESA Web Site at as each tournament progresses. Results will be posted on the web site after each game. Should weather become a factor, any change in the status of the tournaments will be posted on the IESA website.

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 that respective state final site only throughout the day. It will not be honored at any other 8th grade state final site. 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 are admitted free.

This year marks the 34th year that the IESA has been conducting girls basketball, as the ever-growing activity made its debut within the Association back in 1979. Only one-class of competition existed then. That was until 1986, when 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, with the current four class system beginning in 2006.

Complete pairings for each state final, plus the FanZone, can be found at Click on the Girls Basketball link at the top of the IESA Web Site Home Page.

Here is a look at each of the four 2012 Eighth Grade State Final Tournaments:

Class 1A

With variety being the key word, the Class 1A field features a rare mix of newcomers, tournament veterans and perhaps even one Cinderella. The Hamilton Cardinals (8-14) will continue their fairytale run to the state tournament, as they draw the 2011 7-1A state champs Atwood-Hammond (23-2) in game one. The Tigers of Gardner are back to the big dance for the first time since 2008, sporting an impressive 16-1 mark. They will take on perhaps the most experienced program of the group in Washington St. Patrick (19-4), who returns after a third place finish a season ago. Game three welcomes newcomer Maryville Christian (17-3) as they battle the 21-5 Falcons of Springfield Little Flower. Finally, rounding out the quarterfinal action is a matchup between 2010's first place winner in Bourbonnais Maternity BVM (16-3) squaring off against the Tigers of Rantoul St. Malachy (24-1). These Tigers are hoping for some payback following a 7th grade finals lost a season ago to Atwood-Hammond.

Class 2A

With an entirely new group from a season ago, the 8-2A state tournament is sure to be one to remember. Action will tip off early with a matchup of two newcomers to the state scene in Peoria St. Philomena (21-1) duking it out against Mansfield Blue Ridge JHS (16-7). Hoping to add to their already illustrious state reputation following a 2010 title, Springfield Christ the King (19-5) has the unpleasant task of attempting to knock off a one loss Mt. Olive squad (24-1) which placed third in last year's 7th grade tournament. Quarterfinal action continues to heat up in game three, as the Colts of Mendon Unity (24-1) return to state following an undefeated 7th grade campaign that ended with an IESA championship. They have an afternoon date with a battle tested 17-5 Seneca Raider crew anxious to make some state tournament noise of their own. Closing out our quarterfinal afternoon is a head-to-head matchup featuring the 2009 state runner-up in Bloomington Holy Trinity (24-1) taking on the Wildcats of Altamont (19-4).

Class 3A

Based on record alone, the competition in Class 3A appears to be loaded, as the field averages 20 wins. Making their first tournament appearance are the Heat of Stronghurst West Central (19-2) paired up against the 21-4 Knights of Wenona Fieldcrest. The Knights are still searching for that elusive first state victory after two past tournament visits. Game two features two teams with a combined three loses in Hillsboro (20-1) and Monticello (23-2), making that contest a must see. Another team that's been a fixture at state with an astounding four straight appearances are the Wooden Shoes of Teutopolis (24-1). They will help welcome Auburn JHS at Divernon (19-3) to their first ever state tournament in quarterfinal game three. Looking to duplicate what Assumption Central did a year ago, Dolton Lincoln takes their undefeated record (21-0) to the state series in hopes to finish off a magical season. Standing in their way are the Panthers of St. Joseph (18-3) who are no strangers to the state tournament, finishing second back in '08.

Class 4A

Welcoming only two first timers into the fold, 8-4A looks to have the most experience of any class. There could be a finals rematch of last year's 7-4A state title game as both Rochester and Normal Kingsley return one year later, again on opposite sides of the bracket. Game one pits two newbies against each other in the form of New Lenox Martino (24-0) vs. Edwardsville Liberty (18-6). The Vikings of New Lenox are aiming for an unbeaten season but will have to first unseat a Panthers team that knows how to win close games. Game two welcomes back last year's 8th grade Class 4A state winner in Normal Kingsley (21-1), as they aim to become the first back-to-back 8-4A winner in IESA history. Standing in their way are the 2006 third place finishers of Mattoon (15-9). Country Club Hills Southwood (17-0) is still searching for its first state title after compiling a 3-4 state mark since 2006. The Meteors of Mokena (17-7) have similar plans, as these two impressive squads are set to tip off in game three of the afternoon. The third undefeated team in Class 4A, the dominating Rockets of Rochester (24-0) cap off the quarterfinal afternoon with a matchup against defensive driven Forrest Prairie Central (18-3).

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