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High School HighlightsFall Sports Post-Season Honors Start Rolling In
The end of November usually signals the end of another high school season for football, soccer, and volleyball. Collectively, we all will now shift our attention to the winter sports of boys and girls basketball while waiting, in the case of some of the fall sports to see who stood out in the minds of coaches, writers, and editors when reviewing the seasons just past.
Possibly it is just me, but the results for the fall sports have rolled out a little slowly this year, but as a public service, I like to use this space to recognize the local and area athletes who, in a daily paper, might only get a mention in a one-paragraph article before moving on to the next event on the agenda. Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and acquaintances, here comes the first wave of accolades for Big 12 and Corn Belt Conference Volleyball and Soccer players.
When it came to Boys’ Soccer, two young men received unanimously approval from voters by season’s end (I’d like to hear a politician – any politician – be able to say they could make that claim!): Normal Community High School junior Eddie Plesha and Bloomington High School senior Alex White can both boast about finishing their seasons with such an honor.
Among “First Team” Selections, NCHS had five players chosen, including Plesha; Normal Community West High School had three; and BHS had three, including White. Also named to the First Team for NCHS were: Connor Oltman, Brandon Lam, and Mason Maier (juniors); and senior Blake Smith.
Normal West could lay claim to three First Team honorees from three separate classes: Sophomore Adam Bauman; Junior Ben Nielsen; and senior Tanner Rutledge. BHS’ White was the only Purple Raider to make the First Team list this year.
A total of nine players made it to the Conference’s “Honorable Mention” roster. Those players (and their schools) were: Geofred Kalala, (ssenior) and Jared Collier (junior) BHS; Grant Donath, (Senior), Riley Hutchison, and Josh Millmore, (juniors), NCHS; Evan Jefferson, and Owen Peterson (seniors), Pablo Garcia (junior), and sophomore Tim O’Brien, Normal West.
But it wasn’t just guys on the gridiron who earned recognition. Local high school volleyball teams were recognized as well. When the Big 12 Conference announced their post-season honors, Normal West had four players selected to their All-Conference volleyball team, followed by three NCHS honorees, and two from BHS.
Wildcats juniors Tyler Brown, Maddy Moser, Maddie Williams and Jill Paska were named by their league for their efforts to the All-Conference team. NCHS juniors Machayla Leonard and Erika Peoples joined sophomore Micki Quakenbush as Ironmen honorees, and junior Izzy Carroll and sophomore Summer Horchem were the Purple Raiders’ players who completed their season by being honored. Of the number of players who found themselves on the league’s “honorable mention” list, BHS tallied four players while West and NCHS each registered two.
For now, at least, you are caught up on the accolades given out up to now for the season just past. They were well-deserved. As I say, when the conferences release more information, I will pass it along.
On another subject, you might recall that back in late October, Normal West High School attempted to raise money for the family of Kevin Winterland, a janitor at the school who suffered a stroke as he was driving home from work on Sept. 30. He was rushed to a local hospital where he suffered a second stroke. The result of those strokes was Kevin being left paralyzed from the jaw down. The school took up collections for the family at their two home football games in October. Kevin passed away on Oct. 25. Money continued to come in even after Kevin passed away.
“We raised a total of $4,007.66 for the family,” Normal West Associate Principal Wendy Davis wrote to me in an email. “We had help from our Student Council to collect donations at the Oct 25 football game. Otherwise, donations came from teachers, staff, students, and community members that were either mailed to West or collected at the two games where we collected donations.”
While we have sympathy for the family, and appreciate their grieving at losing a loved one, it is good to know that community spirit was able to shine through to help the Winterlands during their difficult period.
Wait till Next Year
|Deanne Bryant named winner of ‘Ironmen
Award for Service to NCHS’
Deanne Bryant, former orchestra director at NCHS, has been named recipient of the NCHS Alumni Foundation’s “Ironmen Award for Service to NCHS.” She will be honored at the NCHS Winter Orchestra Concert at 7:00 P.M. on December 16, at which she will also serve as guest conductor. A reception in her honor will follow the concert. Friends, alumni, and former students are invited to attend.
The Ironmen Award recognizes individuals, alumni or non-alumni, who have demonstrated loyalty and exceptional service to NCHS, including providing educational leadership, volunteering for the school, working with students and staff, and enhancing student welfare and the learning environment.
Bryant served as orchestra director at NCHS for 21 years until her retirement in 1993. Her vision of developing a unit-wide orchestra program began in 1969 when she started a strings program in all Unit 5 elementary schools. Her dedication and unwavering support of the orchestra program influenced hundreds of students as she helped them develop their talents and skills. She took the program beyond the high school walls, providing students with opportunities to perform at venues such as the first State Farm “Sounds of Christmas” concert and at dinner meetings and nursing homes. Bryant also took the orchestra on tours to Canada, New Orleans, and Disney World. Under her direction, the NCHS Orchestra consistently won Division I ratings at the Illinois High School Association Contests. Bryant continues to be involved in the NCHS program, volunteering her time to assist music faculty and young musicians. Her former students cite her for instilling in them a love of performing, an enthusiasm for music, and a dedication to musical perfection as part of a group.
Bryant’s contributions to music education include being named recipient of the 2006 Distinguished Service Award by the American String Teachers-Illinois Division and being honored as guest conductor of the Central Illinois Orchestra Festival at ISU in 2002. She has also has served as director and conductor for the Bloomington Normal Youth Symphony since 1995.
Redbirds Run Past San Francisco, 90-76
Six Redbirds reached double-figures in a single game for the first time since 2008 as Illinois State beat host-San Francisco, 90-76, to finish 2-1 at the USF Golden Gate Challenge Saturday, Nov. 30. ISU (3-4) teamed up for a season-best 22 assists, while forcing 19 USF (5-4) turnovers.
Bobby Hunter, Paris Lee and Nick Zeisloft all contributed career-high efforts with 15, 15 and 14 points, respectively. Zach Lofton, Daishon Knight and Reggie Lynch each reached double-figures as well, with 15, 12 and 10 points, respectively. Knight also collected a career-best eight rebounds plus six assists and three steals to lead ISU, while Zeisloft matched a career-high with seven boards.
Tim Derksen led four Dons in double-figures with 18 points, and Kruize Pinkins grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. Both teams shot well, with USF earning a 50.0 percent mark from the field, and Illinois State shooting 47.7 percent. The Redbirds were also 13-for-27 (48.1 percent) from beyond the arch, while the Dons were limited to 14.8 percent.
ISU led from the beginning, as Lofton gave Illinois State a 2-0 advantage before tipoff by hitting a pair of free throws that were awarded after USF was charged a technical for dunking during pregame warmups. Lofton proceeded to net eight of ISU’s first 10 points, but the Redbirds trailed by as many as six points early. However, Illinois State manufactured a key 11-3 lead to gain a 21-19 advantage with 10:28 remaining in the first half.
A three-point play by John Jones later capped a 7-2 run which increased Illinois State’s advantage to 28-24, with 3:36 remaining in the first. ISU went on to establish a six-point halftime lead thanks to a dunk by Lynch with 10 seconds remaining, giving the Redbirds a 34-28 halftime advantage.
Illinois State started the second half with four-consecutive three-pointers, as ISU established a permanent double-digit margin on a Zeisloft three-pointer at the 19-minute mark. Despite a 7-0 run by the Dons that allowed them to pull within 53-43 with 12:14 remaining, the Redbirds responded and ultimately built a 24-point advantage with 3:31 to play. ISU went on to win by 14.
ISU Falls to Penn State in Championship Game of Junkanoo Jam
Alexis Foley recorded her second-straight career-high performance of the weekend, as she led the Illinois State (1-4) women’s basketball team Saturday in the championship game of the Freeport Division of the Junkanoo Jam. Despite netting 24 points with six three pointers, which also set a career-high, Foley and ISU fell to No. 14/13 Penn State (5-1), 72-60. For her performance over the weekend, Foley was named to the all-tournament team.
Octavia Crump also scored a career-high 13 points with nine coming in the second half. Crump just missed a double-double, as she pulled down nine rebounds. Chloe Nelson was the third Redbird to record a double-digit scoring effort, as she netted 10 points thanks to five free throws. Stekara Hall and Briana Puni were the only other Redbirds to score in the game. Puni led ISU on the boards with 11 rebounds, including five offensive boards.
Penn State had a slight advantage on the boards, as it pulled down 43 rebounds compared to Illinois State’s 42. PSU sank 46 percent of its field goals, while ISU connected on 31 percent of its shot attempts. The Redbirds were 43 percent from three-point range, while the Lady Lions shot 31 percent from behind the arc.
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