State Stories

02

MARCH MADNESS: 2016 Class 3A & 4A Girls Basketball

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America's Original March Madness is now in full swing and continues with the IHSA Class 3A & 4A Girls Basketball State Finals at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal on Friday and Saturday, March 4-5.

The Country Financial Three-Point Showdown continues Thursday at Redbird Arena, as prelims will whittle down Sectional qualifiers to four final shooters from each class. The final four shooters from Class 3A and Class 4A will shoot for their class titles between semifinal games on Friday, with the winners returning on Saturday, March 5 for a chance to be the all-class champion Queen of the Hill.

The games will air live on Comcast SportsNet, Comcast SportsNet+ and IHSA TV Network affiliates (click for local listings). The games will also be carried live on the internet at www.IHSA.tv, which will also stream the post-game press conferences. Country Financial is the presenting sponsor of the broadcasts.

Dave Bernhard and Patricia Babcock McGraw will call Friday's 3A action, before Lee Hall and Tara Wellman take over for Saturday's 3A finals. Matt Rodewald and Glenbard West All-Stater Kristi Faulkner step in to call the Class 4A tilts. Zach Kerker will handle the hosting and sideline duties, along with the finals of the Country Financial Three-Point Showdown.


CLASS 3A

HIGHLAND BULLDOGS (30-4)
vs.
NORTH LAWNDALE PHOENIX (22-11)

After 14 seasons as the head coach at Roxana, Highland head coach Mike Arbuthnot has made an immediate impact at Highland, winning 21 games in year one, adding 27 more victories last year, and finally guiding the program to its first state final appearance this weekend. The Bullgdogs are paced by senior guard Amanda Ponce, who leads the team in scoring (13.6 ppg) and assists (106), while 5-11 junior center Alex Porta is just shy of averaging a double-double (9.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg). Since a 3-3 start to the year, Highland has won 27 of 28 games and enters Redbird Arena on Friday riding a 13-game winning streak.

After losing to legendary CPS program Marshall in last year’s Sectionals and then twice by double-digits during the 2015-16 regular-season, North Lawndale finally extracted its revenge, edging the Commandos 51-48 in the Sectional semifinals. Head coach Corey Morgan’s team then took care of business in the Super-Sectional round to advance to the state finals for the first time in school history. The young Phoenix are rising behind the emergence of freshman guard Jada Thorpe (14.1 ppg, 62 threes) and sophomore guard DeAsa Almon (10.8 ppg). North Lawndale could face defending state champ Morton in the title round, a team they beat in a four-overtime thriller during a holiday tourney.


MORTON POTTERS (31-3)
vs.
MORGAN PARK MUSTANGS (30-3)

Morton shocked much of the state with its semifinal win over Montini last year, which was followed by a state championship victory over Rochester. The Potters went from underdog last year to the favorite this season, and then back, as the team returned four starters from a year ago, but then lost All-State senior guard Chandler Ryan to a season-ending injury in December. Junior Brandi Bisping (14.6 ppg, 8.0) has emerged in Ryan’s absence as the leader of Bob Becker’s team, while senior forward Jadison Wharram (9.2 ppg) adds a veteran presence for a team that has won 11 in a row since back-to-back losses in January.

Morgan Park has been near or at the top of the Class 3A rankings for much of the season, and has proved it could be in the same place in Class 4A. The Mustangs daunting schedule this season included games against all four Class 4A state final qualifiers this weekend, including wins over Benet (67-53) and Fremd (61-57), who met in the 2015 title game. Head coach Kendonica Taylor has guided the Mustangs to the state finals for the first time in school history behind the one-two guard tandem of senior Deja Cage and junior Destiny Harden, who have combined to lead Morgan Park in scoring in 25 contests.


CLASS 4A
WHITNEY YOUNG DOLPHINS (27-5)
vs.
FREMD VIKINGS (29-2)

After making seven consecutive state final trips from 2008 to 2014, including three state titles in that timeframe, Whitney Young and head coach Corry Irvin wasted no time returning to Redbird Arena after last year’s Sectional loss to Trinity. The trip wouldn’t have happened without the spectacular play of All-State senior guard Kiara Lewis, who wasn’t ready to move on to Ohio State just yet, as she scored 44 points to help the Dolphins erase a 15-point deficit in a Super-
Sectional win over Homewood-Flossmoor. Whitney Young, who owns regular-season wins over fellow qualifier Benet (61-58), also gets 16.4 points per game from 6-0 senior forward Isabelle Spingola.

Fremd played Benet even for three quarters in last year’s state title game, before fourth-quarter struggles prevented the school from winning its first state title. Even with four starters returning, many didn’t expect David Yates’ group to be back at Redbird Arena this year given that the graduating starter was Illinois Ms. Basketball Haley Gorecki (Duke). The Vikings have used a balanced attack in 2015-16, as three players enter with double-digit scoring averages, and three others are scoring 4.3 points per game or more. Senior guard Brianna Lewis (11.6 ppg) is the team’s engine, while senior guard/forward Bryana Hopkins’ (12.9 ppg) 6-2 frame helps on the boards (6.5 rpg) and defensively.

BENET ACADEMY REDWINGS (30-3)
vs.
TRINITY BLAZERS (29-5)

Benet outscored Fremd 23-6 in the fourth quarter of last year’s title game, as then first-year coach Joe Kilbride led the team to its first state title in school history. Two key starters from that squad graduated, but with Nebraska commit Kathleen Doyle (17.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 137 assists) returning, it is no surprise to see the Redwings back in the finals. Doyle was sensational as a junior in the state tournament, combining for 35 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, three steals and a block in Benet’s two state final contests. Fellow senior guard Elise Stout (12.5 ppg, 57 threes) has emerged as the Redwings second scoring threat.

A Homewood-Flossmoor rally late in last year’s Super-Sectional cost Trinity a shot at its first state final trip since 2006. Michael Valente, who moved from the assistant coach role to the head coach position early in the season, has secured the first girls' basketball trophy in school history after the Blazers edged Montini in overtime in Monday’s Super-Sectional win. Despite the consecutive Sectional titles, Trinity could still be viewed as being ahead of schedule on paper, as Blazers start a trio of sophomores. Still senior leadership is key for this team, as senior guard Annie McKenna and senior forward Kaitlin Aywald each scored a game-high 20 points in that Super-Sectional win.


TOURNAMENT HISTORY
40th annual State Series
25th year at Redbird Arena


SITE

Redbird Arena (Normal)
Directions
Hosted by Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau  &  BN Sports Commission


SCHEDULE

Friday, March 4
Session 1
Class 3A Semifinals
12:15 p.m. - Highland
vs. North Lawndale

2:00 p.m. - Morton
vs. Morgan Park

Session 2
Class 4A Semifinals

6:30 p.m. - Whitney Young
vs. Fremd

8:15 p.m. - Benet Academy
vs. Trinity

Saturday, March 5
Session 3
Class 3A Finals
Noon - Third-Place
2:00 p.m. - Championship

Session 4
Class 4A Finals
6:30 p.m. - Third-Place
8:15 p.m. - Championship

WATCH
Live on Comcast SportsNet & Comcast SportsNet Plus. Click here for channel schedule & information.

Internet
www.IHSA.tv



LISTEN
WDLJ 97.5 FM (Breese)
Highland games
Internet Broadcast

SportsTown Chicago
All Games
Internet Broadcast Only


RESULTS & LIVE STATS

IHSA Girls Basketball Page


COUNTRY THREE POINT SHOWDOWN
Thursday, March 3
5:00 p.m. - 3A/4A Prelims

Friday, March 4
1:45 p.m. - 3A Finals
8:00 p.m. - 4A Finals

Queen of the Hill
Saturday, March 5
1:45 p.m. - Four class champions compete


STUDENT SAFETY
Play Smart. Play Hard.

Take the PSPH pledge...


SOCIAL MEDIA
#IHSA
on Twitter
Twitter - @IHSAstate

Instagram - @IHSA_IL

Facebook.com/IHSA.IL

Classic IHSA YouTube Video


OFFICIAL STATE FINAL
Gear from Minerva

Photos from VIP

Balls from Wilson

Souvenir Program


TICKETS
$10 per session (general admission)


HISTORY & RECORDS
2016 Road To Redbird

Record Book & Past Champions