The IHSA Class 1A & 2A Girls Basketball State Finals are set to invade Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal on Friday and Saturday, February 24-25. The 2012 edition of the tourney marks the 36th annual season of the tournament, the 21st straight year that Redbird has served as the host and the fifth year of the four-class system. The games will air live on the IHSA TV Network (click for local listings) and will also be carried live on the internet (Friday-IHSA.tv & Saturday-ESPN3.com). Lee Hall and Sarah Kwasinski bring viewers the 1A action and Dave Bernhard and Patricia Babcock McGraw step in to call the 2A games. Matt Rodewald will handle the sideline duties, along with the Class 1A and 2A finals of the Country Financial Three-Point Showdown.
The four qualifiers in the Class 1A field were all ranked in the Top 5 in the final Associated Press poll of the season, as preseason No. 1 Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City Coop was voted into the No. 2 slot, followed by No. 3 LeRoy, No. 4 Aquin and No. 5 Illini Bluffs, respectively. LeRoy knocked off the polls No. 1 team, Annawan, 56-53 in the Super-Sectional round. Speaking of No. 1’s, everyone is looking up at defending state champ Quincy Notre Dame in Class 2A, at least from a polling standpoint. The Raiders have been the AP’s top squad in Class 2A from pillar to post this season, with the team’s lone loss coming to the top ranked large school in the state of Missouri.
LEROY PANTHERS (27-3)
Panther head coach Danielle Cooley comes full circle in bringing LeRoy to its first state final, as the ROWVA graduate was last at Redbird Arena in 2002, shooting in the finals of the Country Financial Three-Point Showdown in Class A. The coach can identify with senior guard Molly Marcum (17.9 pg, 9.6 rpg), who has knocked down a team-high 43 three-pointers on the season and teams with fellow senior Ashley Walker (16.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg) to form a dynamic scoring backcourt. Marcum, an AP Honorable Mention All-Stater this season, is also an All-State golfer, having finished sixth in the IHSA Class A state tourney this fall.
AQUIN LADY BULLDOGS (30-4)
The Lady Bulldogs have made their run to state behind the stellar play of 6-0 junior standout Sophie Brunner, who enters the state finals averaging 19.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, while shooting .675 from the field. Brunner became the school’s all-time leader scorer this season, as the Bulldogs set a new school record for victories in a season. Aquin has basketball bloodlines throughout the team, as two sets of sisters start in Sophie and Ellen Brunner (9.2 ppg) and Aubrey (7.6 ppg) and Haley (4.1 ppg) Chang. The Chang sisters are the daughters of Aquin head varsity boy’s basketball coach Rich Chang.
ILLINI BLUFFS TIGERS (29-5)
The resilient Tigers from Illini Bluffs rallied from an eight-point deficit in Monday’s Super-Sectional to defeat Calhoun 57-48 behind Taylor McClintock’s season-high 31 points. McClintock has been the key to getting the Tigers to their first state final in school history, as the 5-10 junior guard has led the team in scoring in all but three games this season en route to a 24.3 point per game average. Illini Bluffs depends on its length to help make things difficult on its opponents, as the squad boasts four players that are 5-10 are taller and no starter checks in smaller than 5-7.
COWDEN-HERRICK/BEECHER CITY COOP HORNETS (28-3)
The Hornets have come of age, as the CHBC roster is riddled with players who contributed to the school’s state final run in 2010, including a trio of returning starters from that squad. Micah Jones, then a freshman, put her stamp on the third-place game with a triple-double (13 points, 19 rebounds, 11 blocks) and the 6-1 junior All-State center enters the 2012 finals averaging 16.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Senior forward Faith Wendte (12.1 ppg) has joined Jones on the school’s list of career 1,000 point scorers and senior Bailey Doty (10.7 ppg) is 44 points shy of joining the 1,000 point club as well.
QUINCY NOTRE DAME LADY RAIDERS (31-1)
The defending state champs return all five starters from last year’s squad and have prepared for their title defense with a rigorous schedule featuring several top 3A and 4A teams. The Lady Raiders feature the dynamic one-two punch of 5-10 Kassidy Gengenbacher (16.5 ppg) and 6-2 Jordan Frericks (16.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg), both of whom earned First Team All-State status this season as juniors. Shannon Foley and Kate Genenbacher help create a winning culture, as the pair both started on last year’s hoops title team, as well as on Quincy Notre Dame’s soccer team that captured a state title in 2010 and the volleyball team that won the Class 2A state title in November.
AURORA CENTRAL CATHOLIC CHARGERS (25-6)
The Chargers are not the Central Catholic many anticipated seeing in this field (Bloomington Central Catholic won Class 2A in 2010 and finished 2nd last year), but head coach Mark Fitzgerald has gone from revive to thrive with a program that won two total games in the two seasons prior to his arrival in 2008-09. The resurgence centers around the play of 5-10 senior guard Jackie Cardona, who is averaging 13.1 points per game and enters the weekend 36 points shy of becoming the school’s all-time leader. Aurora Central Catholic boasts a balanced offensive attack with six players averaging 5.4 points or better per game, including 5-10 senior forward Ashley Wilk (7.5 ppg, 9.6 rpg).
BREESE CENTRAL COUGARS (29-5)
Breese Central enters the state finals will plenty of Redbird Arena experience, albeit none in basketball. The Cougars last state final trip in girls hoops (2007), which resulted in a state title, came before the current group was in high school, but nine members of this year’s team have been a part of the school volleyball team that has reached state the past two seasons. Included in that group are All-State senior Taylor Voss (13.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and sophomore Maddie Timmerman (12.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg). The Cougars tough road back to Normal included a Sectional final win over Nashville, a state finalist the past three years, and a Super-Sectional win over a Pana team that had defeated the Cougars in November.
STILLMAN VALLEY CARDINALS (26-6)
Stillman Valley alum Heather Alderks coached boy’s basketball at her alma mater for three seasons, before making the jump to become head varsity girls coach, and five seasons later has the Cardinals back in the state finals. The Cardinals go as Jessica Gerig goes, as the 5-10 senior guard leads the team in scoring (14.7 ppg), rebounding (7.0 rpg) and is second in assists (90). Seniors Samantha Hellyer (7.8 ppg) and Robyn Alde (7.3 ppg) add offensive balance to a veteran team that starts five seniors. Stillman Valley has played its best ball late in the year, having won 12 of its last 13 entering Friday’s semifinals.
Redbird Arena (Normal)
Friday, February 24
Class 1A Semifinals
LeRoy vs. Aquin - Noon
Illini Bluffs vs. Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City - 2:00 p.m.
Class 2A Semifinals
Quincy Notre Dame vs. Aurora Central Catholic - 6:30 p.m.
Breese Central vs. Stillman Valley - 8:15 p.m.
Saturday, February 25
Class 1A Finals
Third-Place - Noon
Championship - 2:00 p.m.
Class 2A Finals
Third-Place - 6:30 p.m.
Championship - 8:15 p.m.
Games available on IHSA TV Network. Click here for carriers and channels or check local listings.
WFPS 92.1 FM (Freeport)
WJBC 93.7 FM (Bloomington)
WGCY 106.3 FM (Gibson City)
WBYS 1560 AM (Canton)
WVIL 101.3 FM (Virginia)
WXEF 97.9 FM (Effingham)
WTAD 930 AM (Quincy)
Quincy Notre Dame
WGEM 105.1 FM (Quincy)
Quincy Notre Dame
WCXO 96.7 FM (Carlyle)
WRHL 102.3 FM (Rochelle)
Stillman Valley (Saturday Only)
RESULTS & LIVE STATS
IHSA Girls Basketball Page
COUNTRY THREE POINT SHOWDOWN
Thursday, February 23
5:00 p.m. - 1A/2A Prelims
Friday, February 24
1:45 p.m. - 1A Finals
8:00 p.m. - 2A Finals
$10 per session (general admission)
HISTORY & RECORDS
Class 1A Road to Redbird
Class 2A Road to Redbird