NORMAL – Normal Town Council members honored retiring City Manager Mark Peterson during what was his last Council meeting before his retirement after 30 years with the Town, the first 10 as Assistant City Manager under then City Manager David S. Anderson, and the last 20 as City Manager. His last day on the job is March 30. A reception for Peterson will be held at the Carol A. Reitan Conference Center of the Bloomington-Normal Marriott on Thursday, March 29.

Mayor Chris Koos led off the Council’s tributes telling Peterson, “Pam Reece will do a fantastic job as City Manager, but this is still a tough transition for me.” He said before he became a Council member, I worked with Mark on a number of projects as a volunteer, and then as an elected official and Mayor for 17 years, which in retrospect, has gone by in a snap.

“It has been easier for me to be mayor because of the quality of management that you displayed,” Koos told Peterson. “The professionalism and integrity that you’ve shown in your tenure as City Manager is exemplary.”

“It’s been a short time for me, but it’s been a pleasure,” said Council Member Chemberly Cummings, who was elected to her first term last April. “Mark has been willing to answer all my crazy questions. No matter the time of day, or whether they were down to the wire, you’re always there. It’s made my first year one of learning and fall right in place so that I can do what I need to do for the community.”

Having been on commissions and boards before running for a Council seat, Council Member Kathleen Lorenz told Peterson, “What I think I will always remember is how approachable you are.” Lorenz added she appreciated “how available you made yourself” to her when she had a concern. She added Peterson had “created such a positive culture through the talent you have hired.”

Council Member R. C. McBride said the word integrity had been used frequently when describing Peterson, “and there’s not a more appropriate word for you,” McBride told Peterson. McBride, a former radio reporter, said he appreciated the times Peterson made himself available to the media when a situation called for it.

Council Member Scott Preston gave Peterson credit for visionary skills, looking down the road at a project’s development. He said that skill involves being able to get the support and bring different parties together to work on the project, which Preston said he has seen Peterson do successfully.

“Mostly, I want to say thank you,” Council Member Kevin McCarthy told Peterson. He said Peterson was “masterful” in trying to help the Council develop of vision for the community.

“We’ve had something special,” Council Member Jeff Fritzen told Peterson about his tenure. He said those who developed and carried through the Uptown concept shared the risk involved. He also credited Peterson’s efforts at team building among Council and Town Staff. “Normal first is how I feel you’ve approached your job.” Fritzen explained to do that sometimes comes “at a personal cost” because of meetings and functions Peterson attended outside his normal working hours.

Peterson credited Town Staff for their work in how they go about their work which helps him to help the Council to have the information needed make their decisions. He was emotional when he said Town Staff “deserve credit for the success of the organization, not me. I’ve been blessed with such a supportive, competent, and dedicated work force.” He, at points, could not get the words out. “I want them to know how much I have appreciated their support and commitment to public service during my entire career.”

He credited his successor, Deputy City Manager Pam Reece, with being his “right arm,” and his executive assistant Sandy Fedden with being his “left arm” who has been with Peterson since he became City Manager.

“You all have my eternal gratitude, respect, and admiration,” he told his senior management team members. “I will miss you all more than I can put into words,” a statement that came from him with some emotion as he choked back tears.

Peterson not only had former Council members and former Mayor Paul Harmon in the audience for his last meeting, but his wife, Rebecca, and one of his two grown children.

Council Approves Site Plan For 2012 W. College: Council members unanimously approved both a site plan and resolution conditionally and partially approving the final plat of the first addition using expedited process to the MP-ONE Subdivision at 2012 W. College. It was done but not before Stan Nord, the current developer, in making his plea to Council members to approve the measures, accused Town Staff of not wanting to follow Town Code to get the job accomplished. He said Town Staff wanted to “add undevelopable acres” on the property to what he wanted to develop.

The property had been a mobile home park five decades ago and said Town Staff wouldn’t allow him to plant trees.

Nord said the land has had three owners in the past 10 years. He said he didn’t believe Normal was following Town Code to help him get the job accomplished. That visibly angered Peterson, who told Nord he was offended by his comments. “Our staff doesn’t pad fees,” Peterson said. “Our staff stands by the code. Peterson said he could have Town Corporation Counsel Brian Day and a municipal lawyer look at the code. But, Peterson said, “We’ve bent over backwards for this applicant. Lorenz said she wants the situation ironed out by legal counsel.

Land Town Exchanged With ISU Rezoned: Council members unanimously approved an ordinance rezoning property the Town swapped with Illinois State University related to the construction of the new Normal Fire Station #1 on University St. Therefore, the fire station, which opened in November, sits on what is now Town property as a result. As a result of the ordinance, which passed without discussion, land at 602-604 N. Adelaide St., Sudduth Rd. right of way between Kingsley and Main Streets, and 404 W. Locust St. are now zoned S-1 University. 505-507 Osage are now owned by the Town and have been rezoned S-2 Public Lands and Institutions.

In addition, the ordinance adds an S-3 Historic and Cultural District overlay zoning classification to 305 E. Pine.

Zoning Map To Be Published: Council members also unanimously passed an ordinance authorizing the publication of a zoning map.

Public Hearing Held: A public hearing was held prior to the start of the regular Council session pertaining to the proposed Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) 2018-2019 annual action plan. Federal regulations require the Town publish an annual action plan for public comment and hold at least one public hearing concerning the plans content. No members of the public offered to speak at the hearing.

Annual Liquor License Renewals Approved: Council members, meeting in their capacity as Normal Local Liquor Commission unanimously approved liquor licenses for all establishments in the Town, an annual responsibility at a brief meeting held prior to the regular Council session. An omnibus vote was used to approve the establishments’ licenses.

The Town has 77 establishments licensed to sell alcoholic beverages, with 31 selling packaged liquor – Class A; 3 selling it by the drink – Class B; 10 selling beer and wine by the drink – Class C; 17 selling all liquor by the drink – Class D; 4 Hotels – Class E; 2 Brewpubs – Class M; 1 Stadium – Class N; 4 Limited hours licenses – Class O; 1 taproom – Class P; and 4 public college/university – Class Q. In addition, Commissioners renewed licenses of 25 establishments with secondary licenses which included 6 for annual catering – Class F; 9 for Outdoor Garden/Patio — Class H; and 10 for Annual tasting – Class I. The Town also issued permits for 12 entertainment licenses and 11 video gaming licenses. Commissioners also approved minutes from the Commission’s regular meeting of Jan. 16.

Appointments, Reappointments To Various Boards Approved: Hearing no objection, Council members made appointments and reappointments to various Boards and Commissions. Reappointed to the Building Board of Appeals each for a term that will expire March 31, 2022 were: Russ Arbuckle; Jeff Feid; Terry Sims; and Chris Turner. Reappointed to the Historic Preservation Commission each for a term that will expire March 31, 2022 were: Christopher Niebur and Bruce Warloe. Reappointed to the Uptown Design Review Commission each for a term that will expire March 31, 2022 were: David Burnison and Dennis French. Reappointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals each for a term that will expire March 31, 2022 were: Gary Blakney, Keith Palmgren, and Tony Penn. Reappointed to the Historic Preservation Commission each for a term that will expire March 31, 2022 were: Reappointed to the Town Planning Commission for a term that will expire March 31, 2022 was Rick Bosner. Reappointed to the Police Pension Board for a term that will exire March 31, 2022 was Robert Weldon.

Benjamin Ryburn was newly appointed to the Town’s Human Relations Commission, replacing Sandra Harmon. Ryburn’s term will expire March 31, 2022.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of March 5, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of March 14, 2018

• A resolution to award the bid for the Grant Street and Normal Ave. water main replacement projects to Bloomington-based Stark Excavating, Inc. at a total cost of $897,602 plus up to a potential $15,000 bonus for early completion.

• A resolution to accept bids and award a contract to Morton-based Otto Baum Company, Inc. in the amount of $207,816.14 for the Irving Street improvement project from Fell Ave. to the Hester Street alley.

• A resolution accepting a quote in the amount of $34,291.92 from Eagan, MN-based Factory Motor Parts for purchase of golf cart batteries for Ironwood Golf Course.

• A resolution designating Pamela S. Reece as the Town of Normal authorized representative with respect to the Community Block Development Grant (CDBG) Program.

• A resolution authorizing execution of a conditional right of entry – Dan Kelley.

By Steve Robinson | March 17, 2018 - 7:39 am
Posted in Category: The Normalite

There was a sizable crowd at Carver Arena Saturday. No, no, not the same 5,000 to 6,000 who watched the 3rd place game between North Chicago and Marian Catholic. I’m talking about the very supportive sizable group rooting for Class 2A Heyworth High School junior Colin McCubbins as he prepared to challenge three other contestants in the finale of the Country Financial 3-Point Shootout “King Of The Hill” competition.

That sizable group included: His folks, Scott and Lori McCubbins; His younger sister, Karlie; Scott’s brother, Ryan, and sister, Heather Allen and her husband, Chad, and their two kids, Brody and Adrian; Paternal grandparents Danny and Carole McCubbins; Maternal grandmother Nancy Lynch, and Heyworth High Athletic Director Charlie Lockenour. His head coach, Tom Eller, couldn’t make it but said he would tune in to the coverage.

The three other contestants McCubbins faced for the top spot were: From Class 1A, Clinton Richardson, a freshman from Norris City-Omaha-Enfield; From 3A, Jimmy Braddish, a junior from Sandwich; and from Class 4A, Treyvon Calvin, a junior from Arlington Heights-based St. Viator.

Those folks present all turned out for Colin’s big, dramatic opportunity. They weren’t alone: Between the folks who stayed after the 11a.m. game, the folks coming in and getting settled for the Class 3A Championship, and countless viewers watching on TV, Colin, realize it or not, had a sizeable crowd watching to see if he could top his three opponents.

As if that might not produce enough drama for this young man, when the shooting order was announced, Colin was slated to shoot first. He had spent the previous week practicing, as he told me he would, aided by his coaches.

When the referee’s whistle blew, Colin dug in, but four of the five of his first shots from right wing misfired before the fifth one went in. At the next five at the top of the key, three went in. At left wing, two dropped through for a total of 6.

Calvin and Richardson, shooting second and third, hit 10-of-15 each. But Braddish outpaced them all with 11-of-15.

“I planned on setting the tone early but the shots just weren’t falling,” Colin explained at the news conference for these competitors that followed.

Colin had a week’s worth of prep work to help him brace for this moment, which meant rising early to do workouts at Heyworth Grade School, going through classes during the day, then ending his day at repetitive shooting sessions at Heyworth High with his coaches. This was, by no means, a small endeavor. He should receive some measure of credit for that kind of effort, at least.

As for all the backers who came out, Colin said, “It’s nice to know I have supporters who came out to watch me play.”

After the press conference, Scott McCubbins was just as emotional regarding the experience. “I know he’s disappointed but he’s worked hard, and he’ll be prepared to come back next year.”

By Steve Robinson | March 15, 2018 - 10:46 pm
Posted in Category: Normal West HS, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Community West High School ’s Softball season opened on a somber note March 15 at Maxwell Park as, before head coach April Schermann’s team took to the field against non-conference rival Metamora, they paid tribute to Olivia “Livi” Sonetz, the team’s shortstop, died March 7 from injuries she suffered when her car was struck by another vehicle.

Normal West’s Softball team paid tribute to 17-year-old Sonetz as part of their lineup introductions before the game with the Redbirds began. A pair of bats shaped together into a cross with a softball attached stood just inside the fencing behind home plate. A light blue and white “O” was painted into the sand in front of it.

Ellie Sonetz, Livi’s older sister who also played at West, stood in for her sister, wearing her sister’s number 0 uniform when Livi was introduced as the second baseman, batting ninth. The crowd of roughly 700 at Maxwell Park registered their feelings with applause as her older sister stood in for Livi. As each member of the team was introduced, they touched the makeshift memorial before standing in line for the national anthem.

Prior to the first pitch, the team released sky blue and white balloons into the air and hugged one another in the pitcher’s circle. There was also a moment of silence for Livi.

As the game began, Schermann made a substitution for Ellie, putting Kacie Quick in at second prior to the start of the contest. Quick took a knee before the game started, as well.

In the stands, there were players and coaches from Twin City softball teams and teams throughout the county in attendance. University High, Bloomington Central Catholic, Bloomington High School, Downs Tri-Valley, Holy Trinity School, and members of Bloomington-Normal Girls’ Softball Association (BNGSA) were all visible in the crowd.

The tone may have been somber at the beginning, but once the game got going, there was cheering, albeit subdued, and rooting from the crowd. The Wildcats blanked the Redbirds to start the season, 5-0.

Parkside Junior High Softball Parents Operate Concessions: Normally, West parents man the concession stand at Maxwell Park, but Megan Davis, a parent of a Parkside Junior High Softball player, offered to get and rounded up volunteers of seven PJHS parents to operate the stand so that any West Softball parents who wanted to see the pre-game activities and the game could do so. “We told the West parents we had it covered, and that was it,” Davis explained.

NORMAL – Members of Normal-based Unit 5 School District unanimously approved the forthcoming school year calendar at the governing body’s scheduled meeting March 11, held at Chiddix Junior High School. But just because the calendar got an official blessing with that vote doesn’t mean at least one holiday marked on the calendar won’t get its named changed if Board members themselves grant the change.

During the public comment section of the meeting, four students asked the district board to consider changing the name of the holiday held every second Monday in October from Columbus Day to “Indigenous People’s Day.” That triggered a request from Board Member David W. Fortner to ask the district to have a resolution making the change in the name ready for a vote at the Board’s next meeting April 11.

During a discussion on the matter, Curt Richardson, the district’s attorney, told Fortner State school code allows different options on certain holidays like Columbus Day ad Veterans’ Day. Board Member Barry Hitchins said some calendar adjustments have been made even after the school calendar for the upcoming school year has been approved.

The Board did approve the calendar as part of its omnibus agenda, while the district researches making the change. Board President Jim Hayek, Jr. recommended, as part of that research, bringing the subject before the district’s Citizens Advisory Council. District Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel added the Board will, as part of that research check with the Illinois State Board of Education to see if such a proposed change is possible.

Daniel Comments On National Student Walkout At NCHS: On the same day as this meeting, a month to the day of the shooting deaths of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students at Normal Community High School and Normal Community West High School and 300 students at Kingsley Junior High School participated in National School Walkout Day which began at 10a.m. and lasted 17 minutes – one minute for each of the 17 lives lost at the Florida school on Valentine’s Day. Daniel spoke to reporters after the meeting about what he witnessed observing the rally that took place at Normal Community High School.

When speakers spoke to their fellow students at the event he attended, Daniel said, there was “silence.” He added the rally was “very peaceful but very poignant, very meaningful.” Another similar event, “Rally For Our Lives,” is slated to take place Saturday, March 24 at the Courthouse square in Downtown Bloomington starting at 11a.m.

Multiple Life Safety Projects Approved: Board members unanimously approved work to begin on 10 Life Safety projects at a number of district schools. Springfield-based Henson-Robinson Co. submitted a base bid of $147,117 for a reroofing project at Glenn Elementary School. The section of the school that will be worked on was originally constructed in 1967. At Grove Elementary, workers from Peoria-based O’Brien Brothers will be working to replace a chiller and related equipment after submitting a winning base bid of $113,870.

At Hudson Elementary, after their bid of $96,700 was approved by Board members, Mt. Zion, Ill.-based Top Quality Roofing Co. will be handling a reroofing project on that school’s 1954 building addition. At Towanda Elementary, a contract has been awarded to low bidder

At Pepper Ridge Elementary, Peoria-based Bishop Brothers, Inc. submitted a winning bid of $143,000 for the contract with the district to replace exterior doors. The district also accepted a bid of $464,700 from Chenoa-based Union Roofing Co., Inc. to do a reroofing project. The district also accepted a bid from Union Roofing of $306,970 for a reroofing assignment at Towanda Elementary.

Board members also approved a pair of work assignment bids each at two separate schools. Board members approved a reroofing project on the 1967 building addition at Oakdale Elementary, awarding it to Henson-Robinson which submitted a low base bid of $153,980. In addition, Board members approved two alternate bids to the company, as well: The first for $20,470 for additional drainage control at the north end of the building, and for $5,350 for additional work to provide safer access to the roof for maintenance on the roof above the school kitchen.

Two projects at Normal Community West High School were approved to round out the work approved. First, Board members approved a contract to McLean County Asphalt Co. for the base bid amount of $338,233.04 for resurfacing of the school’s tennis court. Board members also approved three alternate bids work bids to the company. The first was for $5,713 for additional work to repair and repave the west edge of loop drive along the tennis courts; the second was alternative work bid was for $19,154 for additional work to provide new posts and fence fabric; and the third bid, in the amount of $8,274.72 for additional work to replace fence fabric using existing postings at the north, west, and south sides of the courts.

Evans Jr. High And Chiddix Jr. High School’s “Good News” From State Chess: Two of Unit 5’s junior high schools appear to have some real pros when it comes to the game of chess – at least that appears to be the message the principals of George L. Evans Junior High School and Chiddix Junior High School is trying to get across in the their “good news” reports to Board members.

February 23 and 24, the team traveled to Peoria to compete in the IESA State Chess Tournament. EJHS’ 6th grade team came in first place and had the state record for points and the individual overall state champion. Competitors play seven games where, at the end of the day, if they win all their games, a player earns seven points. EJHS’ 8th grade team earned a 3rd place trophy for their efforts. Along with our team winnings, there were several personal accomplishments as well.

EJHS’ 6th Grade Team members are: Rahul Bammidi, Shlok Kinikar, Anish Deshpande, Likith Kancharlapalli, Nathan Lee, Rishith Vanguru, and James Douglas. Eighth Grade Team members are: Sujay Prakash, Marcus Lee, Lalit Kudikala, Umika Kuricheti, Yatin Gupta, Yashu Singhai, and Rishi Badhari. The team’s coach is Jill Burroughs

Jim Allen, principal of Chiddix Junior High School, introduced the Board to members of the school’s Chess team who made a good showing at the Illinois Elementary School Association State Chess Tournament. CJHS’ team placed among top ten finishers, placing 3rd with 25 points, wedged between top team George L. Evans Junior High School which tallied 31 points and 3rd place finisher Parkside Junior High School which registered a 24.5 point finish.

Having played on seven boards during the tourney, a number of CJHS students did well enough to be recognized for their efforts. Team members John Burras, Adtiya Chalasani, Moksha Dave, Andrew Spies, and Syed Zain Zaidi all registered scores of 5.0 out of 7 points possible. The school’s 7th grade team took first place overall defending their title from last year, while CJHS’ 6th grade team placed 2nd overall, earning a medal.

Kingsley Jr. High School’s “Good News” From State Volleyball: Kingsley Junior High School also earned State honors for Volleyball, as principal Shelley Erickson told Board members. KJHS ‘7th grade 4A Lady Cavaliers ended their regular season with a fantastic 26-2 record and a State Championship. They got to the top first by beating Macomb Junior High School 25-19 and 29-27 in the opening round to advance to the semifinals.

In the semifinals, the Lady Cavs bested Homer Glen Homer in three games, 26-24, 21-25 and 25-23. After battling to get to the championship match, CJHS disposed of Manteno in two quick games, 25-6 and 25-8, to bring home a State title.

The 7th grade volleyball team is coached by Maxine Quakenbush, along with Liz Heideman and Kerry Myers. Team members are: Sophia Feeney, Delaney Hammons, Jocelyn Gale, Alyssa Brown, Ella Lloyd, Jaycee Adams, Morgan Bunn, Ashley Wilcox, Jeeya Patel, Anna Dunne, Kate Poehlman, Morgan Sutter, Lizzy Horton and Katelyn Wilson.

Normal Community High School’s “Good News”: Trevor Chapman, principal of Normal Community High School, introduced Board members to four students who participated in a competition call the MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge which took place on March 2.

The four students — Sudesh Sahu, Krithik Rao, Yuktesh Kalidindi, and Annika Hiredesai — competed in this annual Internet-based applied math competition which awards $100,000 in scholarship prizes ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 to teams of high school juniors and seniors.

The Challenge helps to spotlight applied math as a powerful problem-solving tool and helps students see its value and importance. During the competition, students work in teams of 3-5 to solve an open-ended, realistic, math-modeling problem with a 14 hour deadline.

This year’s assignment for the students was to create a mathematical model that a state could use to determine if it could feed its food-insecure population using the wasted food generated in the state. Their goal was to create a mathematical model to address the opportunities associated with repurposing potentially wasted food. They had to apply their model given some parameters from the State of Texas. Additionally, the teams had to come up with a plan to repurpose wasted food both in their community and in their school.

The end product was a 25 page proposal, complete with their solution, which was due at the conclusion of the 14 hour time allotment.

New Administrator, New NCHS Head Football Coach Introduced: A new administrator for the district and the new football coach at Normal Community High School were introduced to the audience by Daniel during the meeting. Maureen Backe was introduced as the new director of elementary education, succeeding Carmen Bergmann. The audience of about 40 people were also introduced to Jason Drengwitz, the new football coach at Normal Community High School. Drengwitz succeeds Wes Temples who resigned in December.

Next Meeting Set For April 11: Unit 5 Schools will be on spring break the week of March 26-30, so there will be no Board meeting March 28. The next scheduled Board meeting will be Wednesday, April 11 at district headquarters beginning at 7p.m.

By Steve Robinson | March 10, 2018 - 10:02 pm
Posted in Category: Central Catholic, The Normalite

PEORIA – The way Bloomington Central Catholic head coach Jason Welch saw his team’s Illinois High School Association Class 2A Championship game against Pinckneyville, the Saints wanted to issue a challenge to the Panthers.

But when BCC (25-7) went from leading 7-6 after a free throw by senior forward Patrick Rahuba at 5:14 in the first quarter to owning a 12-6 lead courtesy of another Rahuba charity stripe shot over three minutes later, it looked as though the challenge might have been too great for the Panthers, as the Saints registered a 69-61 victory to come in 3rd place in the Class.

“I’m just extremely proud of these guys,” BCC head coach Jason Welch said during the postgame news conference. “They’ve worked extremely hard and the guys off the bench did a great job. Our kids came out today and we gave Pinckneyville a challenge.” Going into the second quarter, BCC owned a 14-8 lead.

Only a three by senior guard Grant Jausel cutting BCC’s lead, 21-15, at 4:59 in the second quarter, followed by a Jausel jumper that made BCC’s lead, 23-17 seemed the closest the Panthers would come in the first half before BCC would go on a 5-0 run which helped stretch the Saints lead, 28-17, at the 2:52 mark. Fouls by Pinckneyville (31-4) sent senior guard Elijah Davis to the line making the Saints lead, 30-18, on the way to a 35-20 halftime lead.

A layup by senior guard Austyn Ellison, free throws by fouled junior guard Luke Yoder, and a trey from senior forward Jack Gilmore had BCC owning a 42-25 lead at the 4:58 mark in the third quarter. But threes by Jausel and sophomore guard Dawson Yates, plus a deuce from Jausel allowed the Panthers to come within nine, 49-40, with 1:29 left in the quarter. An Ellison trey with 35 seconds left restored BCC’s double-digit lead as the fourth quarter began, 52-40.

But the fourth quarter began with BCC’s lead reduced to seven on an unanswered trey and deuce by senior forward Kyle Luke, giving the Saints a 52-45 lead with 7:28 left. The Panthers came within four, 56-52, thanks free throws and a trey by senior guard J. C. Moll and a jumper by Kyle. The Panthers came within three – their closest margin, 64-61 – on a Jausel layup at the 1:23 mark. But after that, beginning with a pair of free throws by senior guard James Morris, BCC finished the game on a 5-0 run.

Ellison and Gilmore scored 10 points each for BCC. Pinckneyville had four players in double figures led by Moll’s 16 points, followed by 15 from Yates, 14 from Jausel, and 10 from senior forward Tyler Rice.

Welch credited senior leadership from Rahuba, Ellison, Morris, Gilmore, Davis, forward Owen Talbott, and center Garrison Kear for the success his team had throughout the season which led the team getting to State.

“Everybody stepped up defensively,” Ellison said during the postgame news conference.

“It feels amazing to be finishing with a win, but knowing that it’s my last time to play with my brothers, these guys aren’t just my teammates, they’re my best friends,” said Eli Davis. “It feels good that we got to leave a legacy and that we got to finish on top.”

Pinckneyville head coach Bob Waggoner admitted the news conference would be “hard for me” because he would be losing the seniors on the team to graduation. As for the contest, Waggoner said the team’s biggest fear wasn’t losing but rather letting down the small community of just over 5,400 in Perry County in southern Illinois. Because the team is close-knit, off-and-on during the interviews, boys wiped away tears.

Waggoner said BCC “was a lot quicker, their pressure on the ball hurt us early.” He admitted it was tough to prepare for Winnebago in the semifinal Friday, and then turn around to face BCC Saturday because the two teams had decidedly different playing systems.

BCC Loses Semifinal, 60-49, To Chicago Orr: BCC had hoped to stay in front of their semifinal opponent and Class 2A reigning champion, Chicago Orr, when the two met on Friday on Peoria’s big stage. And for nearly two full quarters, the Saints pulled that off. In the first quarter, thanks to a jumper from junior forward Tommy Nelson and a trey from junior guard Luke Yoder, the Saints owned a 9-4 lead at the 5:24 mark in the period. Two free throws by Orr’s Tyronn Mosley followed by a rebound shot by senior guard James Morris kept BCC out front, 11-11-6 with 4:34 left. A trey each from senior forward Jack Gilmore and senior guard Austyn Ellison extended BCC’s lead, 17-11, with 2:55 left in the quarter en route to starting the second quarter with a 19-15 lead.

BCC (25-7 following this game) stayed in front, 26-20, on a trey by Gilmore, and 26-22, but that was followed shortly by a BCC basket by junior forward Tommy Nelson put BCC up, 28-23. That lead prompted a timeout from Orr head coach Louis Adams with 4:38 until halftime. Following the timeout, a trey and two free throws by Orr senior guard Chase Adams helped pull the Spartans within three of BCC, 32-29, giving the Saints reason to call time with 1:24 until the half. But after that, a deuce by Orr senior forward Dannie Smith and a jumper by BCC senior guard Elijah Davis a deuce by senior guard Brian Hernandez put Orr in front for the first time, 34-31 with 38 seconds in the half. But the teams would enter the half tied following a trey by Orr senior guard Brian Hernandez with 8 seconds in the quarter. The teams would enter the third quarter tied at 34-all as a result.

The beginning of the third quarter started out with Smith hitting a jumper to put Orr (29-4 after this game) up, 36-34 and from there, BCC found themselves in chase mode for the remainder of the contest despite a three in that quarter by Ellison, and deuces by senior forward Patrick Rahuba and Morris. As a result, Orr owned a 51-45 lead going into the fourth quarter.

A free throw by Orr senior forward Raekwon Drake nudged Orr’s lead to 52-45 at 6:56 in the last quarter. Free throws by Yoder sliced that lead to five, 52-47 with 4:45 left but a basket and a free throw by Drake pushed the lead to 55-47. Nelson added a deuce to cut the lead to 55-49 before free throws by Smith and Adams, and a dunk by senior guard Emanuel Oneal closed out the contest, advancing the Spartans to the title game.

Orr head coach Adams blamed falling behind BCC in the opening period to his team “not having any sense of direction. We rely on defense pretty heavily. BCC shoots the ball pretty good. For us to come out tied that we were in the second half, we couldn’t get no worse. We could only get better. In the second half, our boys came out and played like they normally do.”

“We played a really great Chicago Orr team. They’re battle-tested,” said BCC head coach Jason Welch. “They did a great job. Our kids did a nice job of resisting for as long as we could. They did a nice job. I was proud of them. We fought our brains out. Ultimately, they’re a really good basketball team and we tip our hat to them and say, ‘congratulations.’”

Despite that loss, Welch said he had a team that showed they were tough. The Saints only were outpaced on rebounds by a 14-11 count. Welch said that stat showed, “we’ve got a bunch of fighters in here. That’s what we’ve got…a bunch of fighters. The guys played their guts out, ultimately gave themselves a chance to win “ He said Orr may have made more shots than BCC, but in Welch’s words, “They didn’t out-tough us.”