11 29 32 41
Prairie Central 17 24
Olympia: Elliott 0-0-0, Olson 2-1-6, Schultz 0-0-0, Criswell
1-2-4, Kieser 1-4-7, Schmidgall 1-0-2, Springer 0-0-0, Thornton
6-1-18, Williams 0-0-0, Boudeman 2-0-4. Totals 13-8-41.
Three-pointers: Thornton 5, Olson 1, Kieser 1.
Junior Varsity: Olympia def. Prairie Central 70-52.
Hartsburg-Emden def. Lewistown 59-50
Illini Central def. Havana 74-54
"It was only a taste," said O'Brien,
whose team takes on Missouri Valley Conference leader Wichita State
at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in Redbird Arena. "We're not satisfied by any
means. But it's a taste of what could happen consistently if we can
continue to work our tails off toward our goal of putting 40 minutes
For the first 25 minutes, it looked
like the Redbirds were doomed to go hungry for victory again, as SMS
stretched an 11-point halftime advantage into a 41-27 edge. But
O'Brien, who scored 15 points to lead the 'Birds, helped provide the
firepower for a 31-13 finish and an end to a four-game losing
streak. Sharon Blade (nine points) combined with O'Brien and Jaci
McCormack (seven each) to score 23 of those 31 points. Freshman Sara
Stevenson's only shot of the game and second field goal of the
season garnished Illinois State's entree by giving the 'Birds a lead
they could keep -- and their first lead of the second half -- with
1:23 to play.
Redbird coach Jenny Yopp agreed with
"It (the win over SMS) definitely is a
taste of what we can do when we become even more consistent," said
Yopp, whose 'Birds are 3-10 overall, 1-3 in the Valley.
Stevenson's shot was a show of depth as
much as skill for Illinois State.
"We all knew Sara would hit that shot,"
said Yopp, who prefers to call her starters "pacesetters" because,
quite frequently, it's players off the bench who "start" the team on
a roll. "That wasn't a surprise because we know we have 10 or 12
players who can contribute and who, on any given night, will have
opportunities to help this team win. It's a neat thing."
[to top of second column in this
Against SMS, it was the Redbird bench
getting the job done, with McCormack, Blade and Stevenson joined by
Zora Skrabalova, who had four points, three steals and a block in
just 16 minutes. The subs combined for 17 points, 13 rebounds and
WSU, 10-4, 4-1 in the Valley, pulled in
front of the league standings with a 93-86 win at Indiana State --
their fourth since a conference-opening loss at Evansville. Reigning
Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week Angela Buckner leads a
Shocker cast. Buckner, the Valley's top
rebounder with 12.2 boards per game to go with 14.8 points, is
complemented by Carlesa Dixon, the league's No. 1 scorer, who shoots
52 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3-point range and 79
percent from the free-throw line. Point guard Tisharria Huggins has
averaged 18 points over her team's last three games -- victories
over Creighton, Drake and Indiana State.
Yopp has long recognized the Shockers'
substantial talent. What has put them on top has been steadier play.
"Wichita State is more consistent,"
said Yopp. "They make great use of their offensive rebounding
ability, along with their quickness and length on defense.
Defensively, they will challenge you aggressively."
Yopp describes Buckner's ability to
create scoring opportunities on the offensive boards as a valuable
weapon for coach Darryl Smith's Shockers.
62 offensive rebounds and 162 shot attempts," said Yopp. "She gives
herself chances to either finish or get the (foul) call and shoot
free throws (82 attempts in 12 games). She gives them so many more
opportunities to score."
[Thomas Lamonica, Illinois State University]
What's up with that? Well, do you
remember life before the 3-point line? That's the way much of this
game played out, even though the Illini eventually hit eight
3-pointers to seal and slug out a 69-63 victory over a Wisconsin
team they shared the conference title with a year ago.
Not only that, but the first half
didn't exactly give you a great deal of confidence heading into the
second half. In fact, Greg Taylor, who was seated on press row, said
he had a real bad feeling about the second half. While sitting there
he must've slipped me some of his famous Cubs Kool-aid, because I
felt we had weathered the storm (where did that overwhelming sense
of optimism come from?). Luckily, I was right for once.
Illinois came out of the locker room
like a team possessed. Bucky Badger must've forgotten all about
Cook, who sat most of the first half on the bench mired with two
fouls. But somebody should've told Bucky that Cook would STILL
probably start and play a little bit in the second half. Apparently,
Bucky never got that message through to the troops, and Cook opened
up the second half scoring with a wide-open dunk! James Augustine
continued his phenomenal game by scoring a deuce and marksman Sean
Harrington nailed a 3, and for all intents and purposes the Illini
[Photo by Tom Seggelke]
According to the LDN's stats, Cook blew
up for 24 second-half points and seven rebounds and totally
dominated the final 20 minutes. But had it not been for Augustine's
huge first half, Cook's performance might well have been for naught!
Augustine erupted himself by scoring 13 first-half points, including
an important 3 from the corner as the half was winding down. So,
with Cook on the bench for over 10 minutes the Illini STILL held a
36-30 lead at intermission.
Then Illinois REALLY got busy. In
addition to the before-mentioned second-half offensive barrage, the
Illini's defense stiffened as well, not allowing a field goal for
the first 9:30 of the frame.
Wisconsin's big star, Kirk Penney,
finally did wake up late in the game as he hit some big shots,
including two 3-pointers, to pull the Badgers close… but, not close
enough. Penney did finish with a double-double, going for 18 points
and 12 rebounds as he helped Wisconsin win the rebounding wars
But Illinois held The Cheesers to 35
percent shooting over the final 20 minutes after they went for 60
percent in the first half. The Illini also out-assisted them 18-8,
and both teams had a hand in 10 turnovers each.
A sold-out Assembly Hall crowd of
16,500 roared their approval for all the former Illini stars as well
as the critical victory over the Badgers. However, once school is
back in session, many of the rowdiest, best fans will be back to
assist the Illini even more!
Things REALLY toughen up for Illinois
next as they travel to Iowa on Wednesday and to Indiana on Saturday!
[to top of second column in this
Speaking of tough, how 'bout those Railers? Going into the hostile environment of Lanphier's home
court, not many gave Lincoln much of a chance over Richard McBride
and the Lions. But, the Railers took the fight to Lanphier all night
long and came away with another hard-fought victory. The Railers now
find themselves at 15-2 and IF they can take care of business at
home, should be in the driver's seat to upset Lanphier AND Southeast
to win yet another CS8 title!
Hats off to Derek Schrader for his
outstanding game Friday night and to Ryne Komnick for his stellar
play over the last three or four games.
Next up is
the shootout versus Pekin at the PCCC.
Last week the Monday night sports
showcase hosted some Lady Railers along with our Railer seniors of
the week. Brittany Ingram and Jennifer Whalen did an outstanding job
representing their school, their team and their program. These girls
have really turned their season around over the holidays, and more
exciting times are sure to follow!
According to the Charlie Essig report,
the Railers are ranked No. 14 in the state, and that was before they
pummeled Lanphier. Southeast is 31, with Lanphier ranked at 76. All
other CS8 teams were beyond 132. In the City/Suburban Hoops report,
Southeast was listed 11 with Lincoln 20. Peoria Central is ranked
No. 1. As for players, Richard McBride is ranked No. 2 to
Proviso-East's Shannon Brown. But this interesting little piece
surfaced on Lincoln's Chris Bunch:
Little men -- big impact: Bunch is a
jet-quick point guard. Runs the show despite his diminutive 5'9"
size. He is a defensive whiz with excellent vision in the open court
and in half-court sets.
Hartem put a bump in Mount Pulaski's
roll by taking out the Hilltoppers 52-37 this past weekend. Always
rivals, according to several sources this was the first win for
Hartem over their nearby foes in quite some time. The win takes
Hartem to 7-5 and 3-1 in league play.
We were right when we said that
wild-card teams haven't fared all that well. According to the stats,
wild-card teams were 9-39 coming into this year's playoffs. So all
the smack talk from last week went for naught, and most of those
teams, including the ones who made great comebacks, all went down
this week. Every home team won. No predictions for next week, but
I'd sure like to see boyhood favorites in the big game!
The LDN has just learned that Lincoln's
Brian Cook has picked up another Big Ten Player of the Week award!
Cook went for 25 against Minnesota and a career-high 31 versus
Wisconsin in leading Illinois to a 2-0 first-place week! Nice going,
Brian! [See the Big Ten announcement
at 6, right here on the LDN
link and on CITV and FIX-96.3 FM.