IESA Headlines

2013 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 14) and concludes the following Thursday (December 19) at four sites. This is the eighth year of IESA four-class girls basketball.

Class 1A will be played at Clinton Junior High School, while Class 2A is being played at Metamora Grade 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 19 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 35th 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 2013 Eighth Grade State Final Tournaments:

Class 1A

Anyone who took in the 2012 Class 1A 7th grade state tournament a year ago should be all too familiar with this crop of 8th grade finalists. Beginning first with two teams out for retribution, the Wolverines of Lincoln West Lincoln-Broadwell (19-2) battle the unbeaten Braves of Tonica (23-0). Tonica, led by head coach Morena Duncan, return to the Class 1A 8th grade state tournament for the first time since 2011. These Braves, however, advanced to the 2012 Class 1A 7th grade state tournament before suffering a two point quarterfinal defeat. Meanwhile, the Wolverines of West Lincoln-Broadwell came within one win from capturing the 7th grade state title a year ago. Although this is West Lincoln-Broadwell's first Class 1A 8th grade state tournament, head coach Kari Froebe knows what to expect from his players. "We are fortunate to have a group of girls who understand their role on the team," said Froebe. "Our program tries to instill a love of the game as well as sportsmanship. I am proud of our girls for being role models both on and off the court."

Game two features the very team that knocked off West Lincoln-Broadwell in that 7th grade title game, as the defending champion Hilltoppers of Danville Schlarman (21-0) return to the state scene. Not only are the Blue and Gold on a quest for back-to-back championships, but are also riding an unbeaten streak that has reached 42 wins and counting. On top of everything that is on the line for Danville, the current group of 7th grade girls are in Thursday's Class 1A state championship game against Bartonville Monroe. Hoping to spoil the party for the 8th grade Hilltoppers this weekend is a Crescent City squad (16-6) with plenty of experience of their own. These Lady Hawks, although back at the 8th grade tournament for the first time since 2006, are a year removed from competing in the Class 1A 7th grade state tournament.

Looking ahead to game three of the morning, in a matchup that will showcase newcomer Augusta Southeastern and their impressive 21-3 record against the tournament savvy Flyers of Bartonville Monroe. Returning to the Class 1A 8th grade state tournament for the fifth time since 2007 highlighted by two runner-up finishes (2010, 2011), Bartonville Monroe appears to have the recipe of success. "Our Lady Flyers have a spirit of excellence," said head coach Scott Frickleton. "They do the right thing not because somebody is watching but because they understand it's the right thing to do!"

Rounding out the quarterfinal action will be the Tars of Morton Blessed Sacrament (19-3) and the Sharpshooters of Sigel St. Michaels (20-3). Returning to the state tournament for the first time since their second place finish back in 2007, Sigel St. Michaels has battled its fair share of adversity this season. "The first half of the season we started off slow with a couple of losses," said head coach Dennis Ruholl. "However we picked up the intensity and began to click as a team…we are a very close knit group that work well together both on and off the court." On the flipside, Morton Blessed Sacrament capped off an impressive, three point sectional victory to catapult the Lady Tars to their first ever Class 1A state tournament.

Class 2A

With a solid mix of newcomers and tournament veterans, the Class 2A state tournament is certain to be one for the record books. Speaking of records, the unbeaten Indians of Lewistown Central (25-0) are looking to become the first Class 2A 8th grade team to capture a perfect season since Normal Epiphany back in 2006. As impressive as the Lady Indians have been, head coach Mitch Conway knows there is room to improve. "We didn't play our best offensively at times in the regional semi-finals, and then didn't play our best defensively in the regional championship," said Conway. "But we found ways to win and overcome those things." Hoping to spoil history for Lewistown Central are the Cougars of Springfield Christ the King (15-8), who carry with them an impressive tradition of their own. On top of competing in the Class 2A 7th grade state tournament last season, this year will mark the fourth time in six years that an 8th grade Lady Cougar team has reached the finals. The run of success, highlighted by a 2010 state title, is contagious throughout the entire Cougar athletic program. "Six of the ten girls on the basketball team this season also made it to the state finals for softball this past fall."

Game two of the quarterfinal action welcomes back the 2012 Class 2A 7th grade state champion in Bloomington Holy Trinity (24-1), as they rumble with the 14-4 Raiders of Seneca. Following a six year absence, the Raiders returned to the state finals a year ago and are hungry for more following their quick exit. Meanwhile, the Saints of Holy Trinity have an eye on consecutive state championships, which would include their first ever Class 2A 8th grade state title. While their minds will surely be on making history of their own, their hearts will likely be with the current 7th grade Lady Saints, as they are in action Thursday against Brimfield with a state title on the line.

Moving on to game three, which features a pair of one loss teams both returning to the big dance for the first time since 2011. It was that very state tournament that saw the Blackhawks of Hardin Calhoun (18-1) fall one point short of a championship in their only Class 2A appearance. Meanwhile, the Bluegirls of Carthage (23-1) have a slight edge in state experience, as they took home third place back in 2009 before advancing to state in 2011.

The quarterfinal finale of the morning will see the Eagles of Paris Crestwood (13-6) attempting to carry the momentum captured in their 30-20 victory over Fisher in Wednesday night's sectional title game. Paris Crestwood, making their first ever Class 2A state tournament appearance, is led by a small, but impressive group of 8th graders. "All of our 8th graders have been huge contributors to our successful season," said head coach Sara Pinnell. "They have worked really hard together, and although we only have six of them, this group has been very dedicated and determined to make it to state this year." Paris Crestwood will await the winner of tonight's sectional championship between Nokomis JHS and Oblong.

Class 3A

With five of the eight qualifying teams new to the Class 3A state tournament, it is safe to say history will be made for many of the participating schools. Speaking of newcomers, the Warriors of Germantown Hills (16-5) will be up first when the action begins Saturday morning. The Warriors are led by their most valuable player Lexi Smullin, while other key contributors include Torie Maddock, Alison Lee, Madie Stott and Gabby Hoffman. While those players may standout on the stat sheet, it's another Lady Warrior who continues to set an example in a much different way. "Anna Stewart represents the true meaning of sportsmanship for our team" said head coach Ryan Davis. "All season she's helping players off the ground…holding doors for other teams and much more." Hoping to edge out the Warriors in the first round will be the Eagles of Dolton Lincoln (17-1). Returning to the Class 3A state tournament following a tough loss a year ago, the Eagles are coming off a narrow 42-38 victory over Crest Hill Richland in Wednesday night's sectional championship.

Game two of the morning highlights a pair of teams who've enjoyed state tournament success as early as a year ago. The Sages of Monticello (25-0) are hoping to duplicate their 28-0 perfect season from 2012 that ended with a Class 3A 7th grade girls state championship. With a 53 game win streak on the line, the Sages will need to bring their best effort against the 23-1 Trojans of Auburn JHS at Divernon. Having also competed in last year's Class 3A 7th grade girls state tournament, the Lady Trojans battled back from a tough semi-final defeat to capture third place. Led by team most valuable player Katryel Clark, the Lady Trojans continue to follow their team motto that is continually echoed by head coach Larry Griffith: TNT - Toughness and Together.

Newcomers Quincy Blessed Sacrament (8-6) and Danville Oakwood (19-4) are next up on the Class 3A quarterfinal schedule. The Crusaders of Blessed Sacrament are on a roll following their impressive 26-20 victory over Williamsville in Wednesday night's sectional championship. Danville Oakwood, meanwhile, is making its first ever Class 3A state appearance in what will be head coach Jeff Ford's final season. "It's been a fantastic experience and I couldn't have scripted this any better," said Ford. "I can't describe what a wonderful thing this has been for the junior high of Oakwood and the excitement this has brought to the whole Oakwood girls basketball program." Ford's daughter, Jenna, is a key contributor on the team and was one of the main factors in her father's decision to return for one last season.

Wrapping up the Class 3A quarterfinal games will be a battle of teams with identical records, as the Hornets of Eureka (22-2) matchup against the Eagles of Newton Jasper County (22-2). The Eagles, making their first ever trip to the Class 3A finals, will likely lean on the team's leading scorer Abby Frohning along with the physical Halley Powers. That elite combination has set the tone for a Newton squad that is just three victories away from the school's first ever girls basketball championship. Eureka knows what it's like to be close to a title, as just a year ago, these Lady Hornets fell six points shy of the Class 3A 7th grade state championship. "This group of girls have put in a lot of hard work this season to try and return to the state finals," said head coach Ron Eeten. "I have seen each one of the girls grow not only as players but as individuals as well." Be sure to keep an eye open for a possible rematch of that Class 3A state title game from a year ago between the Hornets and unbeaten Monticello.

Class 4A

In what appears to be an extremely competitive field of teams, the final class of the day features the top three finishers in last year's Class 4A 7th grade state tournament. Leading things off in game one will be the unbeaten Panthers of Edwardsville Liberty (25-0) against tournament newcomer Calumet City Dirksen (17-5). The Senators of Calumet City are led by their team captain and defensive player of the year in 8th grader Sophia Russell. Russell, along with her Senator teammates, aren't intimidated by the spotlight that can come with competing for a state championship for the first time. "We are a battle tested team…we had our setbacks from player issues to some very tough defeats early in the season," said head coach Larry Russell. "Our starting lineup has changed several times, however many different players have stepped up and contributed to our success." The Senators will have their hands full early however, as they must deal with an Edwardsville Liberty squad that was three points away from a state title a year ago. These Lady Panthers were narrowly defeated in last year's Class 4A 7th grade state championship game, 27-24. That loss came at the hands of fellow tournament qualifier Morton JHS, which Edwardsville Liberty could see again if both teams are able to claw their way back to the title game.

Game two features two teams with a combined record of 53-3 heading into the weekend. Bolingbrook Brooks (20-2) is back to the Class 4A state finals for the first time since capturing fourth place in 2008. The Bulldogs are led by head coach Alan Hampton, whose squad just notched an impressive victory over Homer Glen Homer in Wednesday night's sectional championship game. Hoping to derail the Bulldog's momentum are the 23-1 Spartans of Frankfort Summit Hill. Making their fourth Class 4A tournament appearance since 2008, the Spartans suffered their only loss of the season by a single point back in early November. Frankfort Summit Hill's 7th grade girls basketball team is in action Thursday night in the Class 4A championship game against fellow unbeaten Canton Ingersoll.

In what will be a rematch of last year's Class 4A 7th grade semi-final classic, the Titans of Chatham Glenwood (22-2) are out for payback against the eventual champion Junior Potters of Morton JHS (25-0). Morton is currently riding a 52 game win streak in hopes of capping off back-to-back perfect seasons. Junior Potter head coach Darren Hurst and his girls understand the importance of peaking in December. "You have to be playing the best basketball of your season come tournament time," said Hurst. "This team just plays well together…they are unselfish, play tough defense, and have a good understanding of how the game should be played. But perhaps more important than anything else, they genuinely love the game." Those championship trademarks will be key if Morton is to advance past the Titans again. Led by 8th graders Makenzie Bray, Kiara Downey and Ciara Lahr, Chatham Glenwood is hoping to reclaim that illustrious Class 4A championship for the first time since the Lady Titans won the whole thing back in 2010.

The 19-0 Charleston Little Trojans will battle the 22-0 Indians of Channahon in Class 4A's quarterfinal finish. Both teams come into this weekend boasting unbeaten records, but also remain strangers to the Class 4A state tournament. Channahon took down Bourbonnais Upper Grade Center in Wednesday night's sectional championship to launch themselves into the big dance. Charleston, meanwhile, has ridden the energy of a one point regional championship victory over Mattoon. "The entire game was well played by both teams and we were fortunate enough to come out on top," said head coach Blain Mayhall. Fortunate maybe, but impressive nonetheless, as Charleston went on to defeat a gritty Mahomet-Seymour squad in the sectional championship game by a final score of 38-22.

For more information, please contact the Girls Basketball Administrator Nicole Schaefbauer at 309-829-0114 or

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