The madness continues at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal this weekend. Redbird Arena will host the IHSA Class 3A and Class 4A Girls Basketball State Finals on Friday and Saturday, March 7-8, marking the 37th annual edition of the tourney, the 22nd consecutive year that Redbird has served as the host and the sixth year of the four-class system.
The Country Financial Three-Point Showdown also continues Thursday at Redbird Arena, as prelims will whittle competitors down to four 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 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 former Quincy Notre Dame & Ball State standout Chloe Barnes will bring viewers the 3A action, while Dave Bernhard and Patricia Babcock McGraw step in to call the 4A games. Matt Rodewald will handle the hosting and sideline duties, along with the Class 3A and 4A finals of the Country Financial Three-Point Showdown.
BURLINGTON CENTRAL ROCKETS (27-4) vs.
MONTINI LADY BRONCOS (32-2)
Montini returns the core of its squad that placed third in Class 3A a year ago. Jason Nichols’ squad won three straight titles from 2010-2012 and returns plenty of experience, as Lady Bronco All-State senior guard Kateri Stone (11.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and junior guard Kelsey Bogdan (50 assists) were both in the starting lineup for 2012’s title game. Meanwhile, 6-2 senior Kelly Karlis (9.9 ppg) has come into her own as the team’s second-leading scorer in 2014. Montini faced a difficult regular-season schedule once again this season, as one of its two losses came against Class 4A state finalist Whitney Young. The team has rolled through the postseason, with its average margin of victory at over 40 points per contest.
Burlington Central finds itself on the opposite end of the spectrum, as Mark Smith is building his young squad into a perennial contender. The Rockets reached the Super-Sectional round a year ago in Smith’s first year coaching the team and are making their first state final appearance in school history. The Rockets start four sophomores and one junior, with 6-0 sophomore forward Sam Pryor leading the team in scoring (14.4 ppg). Burlington Central’s offense depends on balance, as three other players average between 7.2 and 8.5 points per game, including sophomore guard Shelby Holt (8.5 ppg) and junior forward Alison Colby (8.2 ppg, 6 rpg).
JOLIET CATHOLIC ACADEMY ANGELS (27-2) vs.
QUINCY NOTRE DAME RAIDERS (29-3)
Joliet Catholic Academy (JCA) makes its second state final appearance in school history and first under its current namesake, as the school reached the state tournament as St. Francis in 1985. Head coach Ed Schodrof’s group is led by All-State senior forward Jasmine Lumpkin (18.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg) and sophomore guard Nicole Ekhomu (14.4 ppg). The Angels having an imposing front line with three starters at 6-0 or taller, including 6-1 freshman forward Ty Battle (7.6 ppg), whose father Kenny is an assistant coach and was named one of the 100 Legends of IHSA March Madness after a prolific career at West Aurora.
Quincy Notre Dame has been one of the top programs in the state since head coach Eric Orne took over in 2000, culminating with back-to-back Class 2A titles in 2011 and 2012. A change in the classification process bumped Notre Dame up to Class 3A last season, but the team was undeterred, as it captured its third consecutive state crown. The 2014 edition is led by senior forward Mary Beth Hugenberg (16.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and senior guard Kristen Gengenbacher (15.7 ppg). Meanwhile, senior guard Cassidy Foley (7.3 ppg) may be one of the winningest student-athletes in state history, as she has been a part of IHSA state title teams in basketball, soccer and volleyball thus far in her career.
GENEVA VIKINGS (26-5) vs.
ROLLING MEADOWS MUSTANGS (28-4)
Despite its solid record, Geneva managed to fly under the radar for much of the season under third-year head coach Sarah Meadows. The Vikings enter Redbird Arena on a 14-game winning streak that included a 48-24 Sectional Semifinal victory over Batavia, a squad that had defeated Geneva twice in the regular-season. Grace Loberg (14.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg), a 6-2 freshman center, has improved throughout the season, highlighted by a 20-point, 10-rebound performance against highly regarded Wheaton Warrenville South in the Sectional Final. Junior forward Janie McCloughan (11.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Morgan Seberger (11.0 ppg) provide two more double-digit scorers and experience for the streaking Vikings.
Rolling Meadows and head coach Ryan Kirkorsky were this close to hoisting the state title trophy a year ago, as Marian Catholic scored on a putback as time expired to best Rolling Meadows 48-47 in the title game. The Mustangs return all five starters from last year’s team and hope to win the first girls’ basketball state championship in school history. Senior All-State selections Jackie Kemph (21.2 ppg, 265 assists) and Jenny Vliet (14.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg) are the headliners once again, while senior guard Alexis Glasgow (16.5 ppg) is a another prolific scorer who tallied a game-high 24 points in the 2013 state championship game.
WHITNEY YOUNG DOLPHINS (30-3) vs.
MARIAN CATHOLIC SPARTANS (27-4)
Corry Irvin has built Whitney Young into one of the state’s top programs, as the Dolphins qualify for the state tournament for the seventh consecutive year. That run includes two state titles (2008, 2012) and a third-place finish a year ago after the Dolphins fell to eventual state champ Marian in the semifinals. This year’s semifinal rematch features a cast of many of the same characters, including 6-5 senior center Khaalia Hillsman, a three-year starter who is averaging career-highs in points (13.4 ppg) and rebounds (14.4 rpg). Perhaps the biggest difference-maker for Whitney Young is a newcomer in sophomore guard Kiara Lewis (12.1 ppg, 248 assists), who sat out last season with a knee injury.
Marian Catholic is hoping for the same result as a year ago, despite having a new coach in 2014, when the school claimed its first state title. The Spartans haven’t missed a beat with Dan Murray taking over the coaching reigns, as Murray welcomed back three starters from last year’s team. That includes senior forward Ashton Millender (16.4 ppg) and junior guard Teniya Page (15.1 ppg. 145 assists), who were both All-Staters this season and the engine behind last year’s title run. However, last year’s championship doesn’t happen without the third returnee, 6-0 junior forward Kauai Bradley (5.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg), whose putback as time expired gave Marian the title.
Redbird Arena (Normal)
Friday, March 7
Class 3A Semifinals
Noon - Burlington Central vs. Montini
2:00 p.m. - Joliet Catholic Academy vs. Quincy Notre Dame
Class 4A Semifinals
6:30 p.m. - Geneva vs. Rolling Meadows
8:15 p.m. - Whitney Young vs. Chicago Heights Marian Catholic
Saturday, March 8
Class 3A Finals
Noon - Third-Place
2:00 p.m. - Championship
Class 4A 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.
SportsTownChicago.com (Internet only)
WGEM 105.1 FM (Quincy)
Quincy Notre Dame
WJOL 1340 AM (Joliet)
Joliet Catholic Academy
WTAD 930 AM (Quincy)
Quincy Notre Dame
RESULTS & LIVE STATS
IHSA Girls Basketball Page
COUNTRY THREE POINT SHOWDOWN
Thursday, March 6
5:00 p.m. - 3A/4A Prelims
Friday, March 7
1:45 p.m. - 3A Finals
8:00 p.m. - 4A Finals
Queen of the Hill
Saturday, March 8
1:45 p.m. - Four class champions compete
$10 per session (general admission)
HISTORY & RECORDS
2014 Road To Redbird
Record Book & Past Champions