March Madness is underway despite the calendar still reading “February” for a few more days, as the IHSA Class 1A & 2A Girls Basketball State Finals will unfold at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal on Friday and Saturday, February 28-March 1. The 2014 tournament is the 38th annual edition, the 23rd consecutive year that Redbird has served as the host and the seventh year of the four-class system.
The Country Financial Three-Point Showdown continues Thursday at Redbird Arena, as prelims will whittle competitors down to four shooters from each class. The final four shooters from Class 1A and Class 2A will shoot for their class titles between semifinal games on Friday, with the winners returning on Saturday, March 8 for a chance to be the all-class champion Queen of the Hill.
The games will air live on the IHSA TV Network (click for local listings) and will also be carried live on the internet at www.IHSA.tv. Lee Hall and Kelly Burke will bring viewers the 1A action and Dave Bernhard and Patricia Babcock McGraw step in to call the 2A games. Matt Rodewald will handle the hosting and sideline duties, along with the finals of the Country Financial Three-Point Showdown.
CARROLLTON LADY HAWKS (23-6) vs.
CENTRAL A&M RAIDERS (27-5)
Carrollton was dealt a devastating blow on Saturday evening, when Brian Madson’s number two scorer and rebounding leader, Patsy Coonrod, was lost for the season due to injuries suffered in an automobile accident. The Lady Hawks persevered however, edging South Fulton 40-38 in the Super-Sectional two days later. Carrollton still has the presence of 5-11 junior center Rachel Williams (11.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg) down low and will now look to junior forward Maddie Struble (8.1 ppg) to shoulder more of the scoring load in Coonrod’s absence. Struble responded by tallying a game-high 19 points against South Fulton and has led the team in scoring in two of its five postseason contests.
Tom Dooley’s Central A&M team will look to turn the game into a track meet, something that doesn’t bode well for their opponent if they are successful. Several members of the basketball squad are key cogs on the school’s track team that has won back-to-back IHSA Track & Field state championships. That has also equated to basketball success, as leading scorer Ryan Dooley (15.9 ppg, Tom’s daughter) was a part of a team that won IESA state titles in seventh and eighth grade (the Raiders start three juniors and two sophomores). Junior guard Taylor Jordan (12.4 ppg) has a team-high 62 three pointers this season, one of three Raiders with 36 or more treys on the year.
EASTLAND LADY COUGARS (28-5) vs.
ANNAWAN BRAVETTES (28-4)
Eastland has won 20 games or more in four of the last five seasons, but Colleen Finn-Henze’s squad is making the first state final appearance in school history. Eastland knocked off Aquin in the Regional final this season and Hinckley-Big Rock in the Super-Sectional round, teams who have combined to win four of the past five Class 1A titles. Eastland’s offense runs through 6-0 junior center Lexis Macomber (15.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg), one of six Cougar regulars who stands 5-8 or taller. Senior forward Hannah Hake is included in that group and another strong scoring threat (11.7 ppg) and also one of seven players on the roster with 90 or more rebounds on the year.
Annawan has been the team to beat in Class 1A all season long and has yet to suffer a loss to a 1A team since last year’s state tournament. Head coach Jason Burkiewicz’s returned all five starters from a squad that placed third year ago, including 6-0 All-State senior center Celina VanHyfte (21.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg). The Bravettes pushed defending, and eventual repeat champion, Aquin High School to the brink in the semis last season (39-38), despite Celina VanHyfte suffering from a badly injured ankle. Senior Cierra Davis (14.7 ppg) and Celina’s younger sister Morgan VanHyfte (10.4 ppg), a sophomore forward, are capable scoring options on a team with four players averaging double-digit points.
ST. THOMAS MORE SABRES (31-2) vs.
TEUTOPOLIS LADY SHOES (28-5)
St. Thomas More returns to the state tournament in 2014 after placing second a year ago. Chris Mennig’s Sabres have been Class 2A’s top ranked team in the AP poll throughout the season, as three All-State players from last year’s team return, including senior guard Randa Harshbarger (9.4 ppg, 160 assists) and junior forward Lexi Wallen (15.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg). The third member of that trio is sophomore Tori McCoy, who leads the team in scoring (18.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg) and rebounding, and is a defensive difference-maker standing at 6-4. The Sabers losses this season have come to 3A (Bishop McNamara) and 4A (Whitney Young) teams who are will play for Sectional titles this week.
One of the most storied programs in state history, Teutopolis makes its 15th state final appearance in 2014. Head coach Laurie Thompson has made state appearances for the Lady Shoes as a player, assistant coach and head coach, and has two of her daughters along for the ride, including senior guard Cierra Thompson (10.7 ppg). The Lady Shoes have rolled in the postseason, combining to win their four Regional and Sectional games by an average margin of 19.5 points, before avenging a 16-point January loss to 32-0 Breese Central in Monday’s Super-Sectional, 49-44. Senior forward Madeline Hartke enters as the team leader in both scoring (12.6 ppg) and rebounding (5.2 rpg).
PROPHETSTOWN LADY PROPHETS (30-2) vs.
IC CATHOLIC LADY KNIGHTS (25-6)
Don Robinson has led Prophetstown to 20 or more victories in 15 of the past 17 seasons and breaks through in 2014 for the school’s first state final appearance in his 37th season on the bench. The Lady Prophets enter the state tournament on a 23-game winning streak behind a balanced offense that features four players averaging eight points or more per game. Leading that group is junior guard Corrie Reiley (10.7 ppg, 128 assists) and junior forward Clare Kramer (10.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg). The Lady Prophets start four juniors, but are battle-tested, having won their Sectional semifinal in overtime against Oregon, before edging Byron (55-53) in the Sectional final and beating last year’s third-place team, El Paso-Gridley in the Super-Sectional.
Despite making its first state final appearance in school history, Aubree Schuett’s IC Catholic squad does feature some state final experience at Redbird Arena. That starts with its top inside player, 5-11 senior center Rory Manion (9.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg), who tallied 10 kills in the Lady Knights volleyball state championship victory back in November. Senior guard Grace Vitek leads the team in scoring (9.9 ppg), while four others average 4.0 points per game or better. The Lady Knights conference offers a strong test throughout the regular-season, as IC Catholic’s lone losses this season have all come against Class 3A and 4A schools, including a close loss (52-48) to defending Class 4A champ Marian Catholic in December.
Redbird Arena (Normal)
Friday, February 28
Class 1A Semifinals
12:15 p.m. - Carrollton vs. Central A&M
2:00 p.m. - Eastland vs. Annawan
Class 2A Semifinals
6:30 p.m. - St. Thomas More vs. Teutopolis
8:15 p.m. - Prophetstown vs. IC Catholic
Saturday, March 1
Class 1A Finals
Noon - Third-Place
2:00 p.m. - Championship
Class 2A Finals
6:30 p.m. - Third-Place
8:15 p.m. - Championship
Games available on IHSA TV Network. Click here for carriers and channels or check local listings.
WBBA 97.5 FM (Pittsfield)
WMKR 94.3 FM (Taylorville)
WCCI 100.3 FM (Savanna)
WKEI 104.3 FM (Kewanee)
WDWS 1400 AM (Champaign)
St. Thomas More
WKJT 102.3 FM (Effingham)
Teutopolis - Friday game
WXEF 97.9 FM (Effingham)
Teutopolis - Saturday game
WLLT 107.7 FM (Dixon)
WSDR 1240 AM (Sterling)
RESULTS & LIVE STATS
IHSA Girls Basketball Page
COUNTRY THREE POINT SHOWDOWN
Thursday, February 27
5:00 p.m. - 1A/2A Prelims
Friday, February 28
1:45 p.m. - 1A Finals
8:00 p.m. - 2A Finals
$10 per session (general admission)
HISTORY & RECORDS
2014 Road To Redbird
Record Book & Past Champions