State Stories


MARCH MADNESS: Class 1A & 2A Girls Basketball

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The calendar won't turn by tipoff, but America's Original March Madness is officially underway as the IHSA Class 1A & 2A Girls Basketball State Finals return to Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal on Friday and Saturday, February 24-25.

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 1A and Class 2A will shoot for their class titles between semifinal games on Friday, with the winners returning on Saturday, March 4 for a chance to be the all-class champion Queen of the Hill.

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

Lee Hall and Kelly Burke will bring viewers the 1A action, while Dave Bernhard and Chloe Barnes step in to call the 2A games. Zach Kerker and Katy Winge will handle the hosting and sideline duties, along with the finals of the Country Financial Three-Point Showdown.


A year ago, Rich DeTamble’s Harvest Christian squad reached the Sectional Final behind senior star Paulina Castro, but now they find themselves inspired by the current Northern Illinois University player. The Lions haven’t lost since Castro’s Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosis in December and use the rallying cry PCStrong to break huddles. Junior guard Alyssa Iverson (19.5 pg) is the offensive catalyst on the court, scoring or dishing to a cast that has three other players who have made 28 three-pointers or more this season.

Annawan looked like a top contender for the Class 1A crown last January, before Jason Burkiewicz’s squad lost then junior star Jayde VanHyfte to a season-ending injury. VanHyfte wasn’t with the Bravettes early this season, which helps explain the 2-6 start (current 18-game win streak), but now the Arizona State University commit is back averaging a double-double (23.4 ppg, 11.0 rpg) and will try to follow older sisters Celina and Morgan, who guided Annawan to the Class 1A crown in 2014.


Unity is in the midst of a season of firsts, as the Mustangs claimed their first-ever Sectional title in girls’ basketball last week, and now follow with the school’s first trip to state the sport. The Mustangs 10 losses are a bit deceiving, as the squad has dropped eight games by seven points or less. Bret Begeman’s team has changed that trend in the postseason, as the senior tandem of Kaylee Kuhn (13.4 ppg) and Jordan Hildebrand (12.8 ppg) have helped the Mustangs win three State Series contests by six points or less.

How many Baalmans does it take to win a state championship? A year ago it was seven (4 players, 2 coaches, 1 radio announcer), as Calhoun followed its second-place finish in 2015 by winning the first state title in school history. Plenty of Baalmans remain for head coach Aaron Baalman’s 2016-17 squad, but none is more important than 6-2 senior center Grace Baalman (23.2 ppg, 11.3 rpg). The IHSA All-State Academic Team member also led the Warriors to a softball state championship last spring, striking out an IHSA-record 39 hitters during a 17-inning semifinal win.


Byron entered the season with huge expectations, as Eric Yerly’s squad returned four starters from last year’s state championship team. Despite the target on their back, the Tigers only two losses this year have come against a pair of Class 4A teams who both have a chance to play in the state finals next weekend. Senior guard Lexi Devries (18.4 ppg) is the catalyst, while Paige Holloway (12.2 ppg) averaged over 15 points per game in her two state final contests at Redbird Arena last year. Byron closed their Super-Sectional win with an act of sportsmanship that left Sherrard smiling and crying.

Central-Southeastern (a coop between Camp Point Central and Southeastern) couldn’t get past Byron in the semifinals a year ago, but looked poised to return in 2017 with four starters back. That dream appeared to be dashed on January 12, when All-Stater and Murray State volleyball commit Kolby McClelland suffered a season-ending knee injury. Instead, Matt Long’s veteran squad has refocused and won 11 of 12 games without McClelland, as fellow senior Laney Lantz (14.0 ppg) has taken on a greater scoring role, netting 25 points in Monday’s Super-Sectional win.


A 14-point halftime deficit in a Super-Sectional might be too mentally daunting for some teams to overcome, but a St. Edward team that boasts a team pet fish had no problem staying loose en route to rallying for a 49-46 win. Nigel (the fish) rotates his home among team members, while opposing defenses have rotated to try and slow down St. Edward’s senior guard Maddie Spagnola (21.2 ppg) all year long. Head coach Michelle Dawson played on St. Ed’s fourth-place state team in 1991, while the school was led to its lone IHSA state title in 1985 by current IHSA administrator Beth Sauser.

It’s clear now that Central Catholic’s 2-7 start wasn’t due to a lack of talent, but rather a surplus of volleyball. Deb Coffman’s Saints opened the season just 48 hours after most of the squad completed its volleyball campaign at the IHSA state finals where they finished fourth. A pair of sophomores lead Central Catholic in guard Lauren Shanks (13.0 ppg) and forward Bailey Coffman (10.7 ppg), the latter of whom tries to join her mother (as coach in 2010) and brother Braxton (player in 2014) as IHSA basketball state champs.

41st annual State Series
26th year at Redbird Arena


Redbird Arena (Normal)

Bloomington-Normal CVB
BN Sports Commission


Friday, February 24
Session 1
Class 1A Semifinals
11:00 a.m. - Harvest Christian Academy vs. Annawan

1:00 p.m. - Unity (Mendon) vs. Calhoun

Session 2
Class 2A Semifinals

5:30 p.m. - Byron vs. Camp Point Central/Southeastern

7:15 p.m. - St. Edward vs.
Bloomington Central Catholic

Saturday, February 25
Session 3
Class 1A Finals
11:00 a.m. - Third-Place
1:00 p.m. - Championship

Session 4
Class 2A Finals
5:30 p.m. - Third-Place
7:15 p.m. - Championship

$10 per session (general admission)


CSN Chicago &
CSN Chicago+


WKEI 1450 AM (Kewanee)
Annawan games
Internet Broadcast

WCAZ 990 AM (Carthage)
1A-Unity & 2A-Central-Southeastern games
Internet Broadcast

WJBM 1480 AM (Jerseyville)
Calhoun games
Internet Broadcast

WJBC 1230 AM (Bloomington)
Saturday Central Catholic game
Internet Broadcast

WRHL 102.3FM/1060AM (Rochelle)
Saturday Byron game
Internet Broadcast


IHSA Girls Basketball Page

Thursday, February 24

5:00 p.m. - 1A/2A Prelims

Friday, February 25
12:45 p.m. - 1A Finals
7:00 p.m. - 2A Finals

Gear from Minerva

Photos from VIP

Balls from Wilson

Souvenir Program

Twitter - @IHSAstate

Instagram - @IHSA_IL

Classic IHSA YouTube Video

Country Financial

Wilson Sporting Goods



2017 Road To Redbird

Record Book & Past Champions