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High School Highlights
An old song by the late Andy Williams proclaimed, “It’s The Holiday Season…,” and if some aspiring composer with a love of basketball wanted to, they could add a lyric about it also being a time for holiday basketball.
The State Farm Bloomington-Normal Holiday Classic, known simply around these parts as “The Classic,” gives us the day after Christmas to exchange gifts as needed right before tipping off on Tuesday, Dec. 27 running through championship night on Friday, Dec. 30. That gives us all four full days of fun to watch on the hardwood.
Again this year, Normal Community West High School and Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center will be among the venues returning for The Classic, joined by Normal Community High School and Bloomington Central Catholic High School.
In the Small School Boys bracket, Quincy Notre Dame is seeded first, with El Paso Gridley the only county team among the contenders. The Titans are seeded 13th and will take on 4th seed BCC Dec. 27 at 11:30a.m. at Shirk Center.
The local schools will have their work cut out for them in the Large School Boys bracket. University High School, under new head coach Andrew McDowell, is seeded 8th and will take on 9th seed Rockford Lutheran at Normal West. The game tips off at 4:30p.m. At that same location at 9p.m., NCHS, seeded 11th, will tangle with 6th seed Joliet Central.
Among the teams in the Small School Girls bracket, BCC, seeded 13th, will face 4th seed Peoria Christian. That Dec. 27 game will be at NCHS starting a 10a.m. LeRoy is also in that bracket, seeded 15th and will square off against Camp Point Central//ASE at 9p.m. at NCHS. El Paso Gridley is seeded 14th and will face 3rd seed Rock Falls at NCHS at 2:30p.m.
In the Large School Girls bracket, only U-High seems to be the local team awarded a single digit seed. The 6th seed Pioneers will face 11th seed Chicago St. Ignatius. That game tips off Dec. 27 at BCC at 2:30p.m.
Sticking with the Large School Girls bracket, NCHS is seeded 12th and will face 5th seed Rochester at 7:30p.m. at BCC. Normal West is 15th, drawing second seed Morton. That game precedes NCHS’ game and begins at 6p.m. Bloomington High School is seeded 14th and will face Springfield High on the Purple Raiders’ home court in an opening game that will start at 1p.m.
Normal West’s boys’ team will again be competing at the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament beginning on Dec. 27. That day, the Wildcats will face Lake Zurich starting with a 9:30p.m. tipoff.
I think this is one of the first times I have ever seen the seedings printed on The Classic tournament’s brackets. I’m certain I’m not the only person, whether they follow these brackets, with every game or just casually, who appreciates that particular change. The Classic tournament bills itself as “The Best Basketball This Side Of March.” Illinois High School Association’s branding of its tournament is now known widely as “March Madness.” So, after Christmas, let the early madness begin.
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Trevor Seibring named CCIW Men’s Basketball Player of the Week
Illinois Wesleyan senior center Trevor Seibring was named the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) Men’s Basketball Player of the Week on Monday, Dec. 19.
Seibring, a Normal Community High graduate, helped lead the Titans to a victory in their only game last week. He finished with a season-high 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field, along with five rebounds, three assists and one steal in a 73-72 win at Washington University of St. Louis on Saturday. Seibring connected on his only 3-pointer and was two-for-two from the free throw line.
A business administration major at Illinois Wesleyan, he is the son of Scott and Stacy Seibring.
Annual Play 4Kay Game to be Friday, Feb. 3, 2017
Illinois State Athletics, in partnership with title sponsor Advocate Bromenn Medical Center, is proud to announce the return of its seventh-annual women’s basketball Play 4Kay cancer awareness game to be held Friday, Feb. 3, when the women’s basketball team hosts Indiana State on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena at 7 p.m.
As Redbird fans have grown to recognize, Illinois State Athletics looks forward to this event every season, as it allows Illinois State to celebrate and lift up cancer survivors, and those currently battling the difficult disease in all of its forms.
Cancer survivors and those currently battling cancer are encouraged to register for the pregame reception in the Legends Room, by visiting GoRedbirds.com/play4kay, which is also where interested fans are encouraged to stay up-to-date with the latest news about Play 4Kay at Illinois State. More information about the event will follow in the coming weeks.
Redbirds Fly Past St. Joseph’s Hawks, 81-72
Senior guard Paris Lee scored a career-high 24 points to lead four Redbirds in double figures, as Illinois State beat Atlantic 10 Conference foe Saint Joseph’s, 81-72, Sunday afternoon on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. ISU finished its nonconference home schedule with a perfect 6-0 record for the first time since 2008-09.
Lee shot 8-for-11 (72.7 percent) from the field, 4-for-6 (66.7 percent) from beyond the arc and a perfect 4-for-4 (100 percent) at the free throw line. He also dished four assists with one turnover and forced three steals with four rebounds. Deontae Hawkins collected a game-high eight rebounds and added 21 points. For Saint Joseph’s, Shavar Newkirk scored a team-high 21 points.
As a team, Illinois State shot 31-for-66 (47.0 percent) from the field and 9-for-20 (45.0 percent) from beyond the arc. Saint Joseph’s shot 23-for-55 (41.8 percent) from the field and 8-for-25 (32.0 percent) from three-point range. The Redbirds outrebounded the Hawks, 37-32, and ISU scored 22 points off of 14 SJU turnovers.
Lee continued his hot three-point shooting by burying a trifecta to start the game. Saint Joseph’s responded with four-straight points to briefly take the lead. The Redbirds then blocked back-to-back SJU shots and took a 5-4 advantage on a Phil Fayne layup which sparked a 14-2 run to push Illinois State ahead, 17-6, on a Hawkins 3-pointer at the 11:04 mark.
After Saint Joseph’s pulled within 17-11 with 9:55 remaining in the opening half, the Redbirds proceeded to outscore SJU, 9-2, over the next 2:04 to take a 26-13 lead. The Hawks answered with a 10-4 run to pull within 30-23 on a Charlie Brown 3-pointer at the 3:04 mark. But, Hawkins pushed ISU’s advantage back to double-digits with another trifecta.
The Hawks cut their deficit to 36-26 on a Newkirk layup before Lee banked in a buzzer-beating, 40-foot 3-pointer to lift Illinois State to a 41-27 halftime lead. Lee led all first-half scorers with 12 points as ISU shot 17-for-34 (50.0 percent) from the field and 6-for-11 (54.5 percent) from beyond the arc marking the third time this season that the Redbird have shot 50 percent of better in the first half.
A MiKyle McIntosh layup to start the second half extended ISU’s lead to 43-27. But, the Hawks outscored Illinois State, 13-2, over the next 6:23 to pull within 45-40 on a Chris Clover jumper with 11:56 remaining. Lee stopped the SJU run by hitting a deep 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer, which sparked a 12-5 Redbird run to push ISU ahead, 57-45, on a DJ Clayton free throw. Saint Joseph’s pulled within eight points three times within the final eight minutes; however, the Hawks could not get any closer, as Illinois State held off the SJU, 81-72.
Illinois State travels to the Diamond Head Classic for three games in Honolulu, Hawaii, to conclude nonconference play. The Redbirds will then return to Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena to tip off Missouri Valley Conference play Thursday, Dec. 29 versus Evansville at 7 p.m.
Paris Lee Earns 2nd MVC Player of the Week Honors
For the second time in three weeks, Illinois State senior point guard Paris Lee is the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday.
Lee led the Redbirds by scoring a career-high 24 points on a career-best eight field goals in ISU’s 81-72 win over Saint Joseph’s Sunday afternoon on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.
The Maywood, Illinois, native shot 8-for-11 (72.7 percent) from the field, 4-for-6 (66.7 percent) from beyond the arc and a perfect 4-for-4 (100 percent) at the free throw line. He also dished four assists, with one turnover, and forced three steals with four rebounds in 31 minutes.
Lee, who leads the MVC and ranks fifth nationally in three-point percentage (56.5 percent), continued his hot three-point shooting by burying a trifecta to start the game. He then banked in a buzzer-beating, 40-foot 3-pointer to lift Illinois State to a 41-27 halftime lead. In the second half, Lee stopped a 13-2 SJU run by hitting a deep 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer, which sparked a 12-5 Redbird run to push ISU ahead by 12 points.
Lee leads the team and ranks sixth in the MVC in scoring (15.7 points per game) and leads the league and ranks 15th nationally with 6.0 assists averaged per contest.
Lee and the Redbirds have now won two in a row and five or their last six games. Illinois State next travels to the Diamond Head Classic for three games in Honolulu, Hawaii, to conclude nonconference play. The Redbirds will then return to Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena to tip off Missouri Valley Conference play Thursday, Dec. 29 versus Evansville at 7 p.m.
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