By Steve Robinson | January 29, 2013 - 9:24 pm
Posted in Category: NCHS, Normal West HS, The Normalite

NORMAL – Heavy rain could be seen and heard by high school basketball fans entering Normal Community High School Tuesday night for the annual game between the Ironmen and cross-town rival Normal Community West Wildcats. But as it turned out, that wasn’t the only storm Wildcats fans were exposed to, as the Ironmen defeated Normal West, 49-39, before roughly 2,000 fans in the Big 12 Conference contest.

NCHS (16-6, 9-2 in Big 12) began their game holding the Wildcats to just five points by the end of the first quarter while threes by sophomore Alex Peacock and senior guard Callen Boddie gave the Ironmen a healthy advantage going into the second quarter.

Normal West (15-8, 7-4 Big 12) gained their points when senior guard Adam McGinnis went 1-for-2 on the free throw line after being fouled with 6:12 in the opening quarter, cutting the Ironmen’s lead, 3-1. Senior guard Spencer Seibring’s deuce at 5:18 in the first quarter tied the game early at 3-3, and after a basket by Boddie put NCHS 5-3, West senior forward Scott Keith tied the game at 5-5 with 3:29 left in the opening stanza.

NCHS picked up steam in the second quarter, going in front of West, 15-11, on baskets by Peacock and senior guard Marquet Newsome. Deuces by Boddie and Boddie and senior center Randy Heideman pushed the Ironmen to a 21-13 advantage before free throws by freshman guard Joshua Robinson and a quarter-ending deuce by Spencer Seibring would cut that lead, 21-15, going into the half.

Coming out of the half, West would pull within two, 23-21, with 4:46 to go in the third quarter on the strength of two deuces by Seibring, and a solo shot by senior center Adam Neuhouser. But Ironmen baskets Trevor Seibring and Peacock would push NCHS ahead, 27-21, with 3:22 left in the third quarter. a trey by sophomore guard Zach Thompson with 1:50 left in the third would push NCHS’ lead, 30-27. Back-to-back unanswered deuces by Neuhauser and senior guard Terrance Fisher would cut NCHS’ lead to three, 30-27, as the teams entered the fourth quarter.

Entering the fourth quarter, West junior forward Phillip Yuncker was fouled by NCHS’ Heideman, sending Yuncker to the free throw line, where he sank one-of-two, cutting NCHS’ lead, 30-28. A trey by Spencer Seibring would get West as close as they would come on the night , 32-31 with 6:02 left in the contest, before a deuce each from Trevor Seibring and Peacock would give the Ironmen the momentum to pull away for good, aided by a Tyler Seibring trey at the 4:05 mark, giving NCHS a 39-31 lead.

Boddie led NCHS’ scoring with 17 points. He was followed by 12 from Peacock. Spencer Seibring was the lone man in double figures for Normal West with 13 points.

NCHS head coach Dave Witzig was complimentary of both Peacock’s and Boddie’s performances following the game. He credited the 6 foot-5 forward with getting his hands on the ball against the zone defense Normal West threw at his team. Boddie is a third year player starting for us in these situations and he really came through for us tonight.”

“NCHS out-executed us, especially defensively,” said Normal West head coach Brian Cupples. “We just kind of got out of position and they exploited it. We shot poorly, especially early, could never really get the lead, and defensively, we were not as sharp as we usually are.”

BLOOMINGTON – For the majority of games head coach Kyle Bobbitt’s fifth ranked El Paso Gridley team have played, they have glided through to victory without difficulty. But when they faced Tremont for the girls’ championship at the 102nd McLean County/Heart Of Illinois Conference Tournament Saturday, during the game’s third quarter, they found they had to employ a trap to get out of a trap.

EPG (22-1), the girls’ tourney’s top seed, was breezing through the game’s first quarter, going into the second quarter with a 16-6 lead with senior forward Chelsea Kessinger, junior forward Codee Schlipf, and junior guard Rebekah Ehresman leading the charge. All second seed Tremont (17-5) could do in the first quarter was scrounge for baskets against EPG’s defense, finding points in deuces by junior Haley Miller and junior Wesley Woodard, and two free throws by senior Tanner Garey.

But three second quarter treys –one by sophomore Jillian Runyon, and two by Garey – helped the Turks pull closer, cutting the Titans’ lead to 23-17 at the half.

That kind of momentum was aided by Tremont’s 7-0 run to open the third quarter, starting with Runyon going 1-for-2 at the free throw line, followed by deuces from Miller, and seniors Kali Sanders and Briley Spencer. Tremont took the lead for the first time as a result, 24-23, with 5:03 left in the third quarter.

At that point, EPG employed a half-court trap, simultaneously boosting EPG’s position on the court while stymieing the Turks. While doing that, the Titans regained the lead, 27-24, on the strength of a layup by Kessinger, assisted by Ehresman, who also added a free throw as did Schlipf. That pushed EPG back in the lead, 27-24. The Titans closed out the quarter with single deuces by Ehresman and sophomore forward Grace Murphy. That gave EPG a 31-26 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Titans charged out to a 37-30 lead to open the fourth quarter on baskets by Schlipf, Ehresman, Kessinger, and senior forward Mattie Buchanan with 5:31 left in the contest. Tremont would get as close as 37-35 on a deuce by Miller and a trey by Garey, with 4:41 remaining, but that would be the closest the Turks would come for the rest of the contest.

EPG’s Ehresman led all scorers on the night with 24 points. Tremont was led in double figures by Garey and sophomore Wesley Woodard, with 12 points and 10, respectfully.

As a result of the victory, the Titans came away with their third consecutive McLean County/HOIC Girls Championship trophy. If they manage a fourth title next year, they would tie a record set by Ridgeview girls’ team from 1991-1994. Ehresman herself has a current winning streak going in the tournament of 9-0 in games she has played in.

EPG head coach Kyle Bobbitt said once a team reaches a championship game, “everybody knows the meaning behind it, and somebody has to step up.”

In speaking about Ehresman, Bobbitt said, “Rebekah is a great leader. We want the ball in her hands because she creates plays for all the other players as well. Tonight, she just saw the opening and she had the green light to go after it.”

“Overall, our defense is what won us the game,” Bobbitt added.

“We were nervous having never played at Shirk before, but once we got our nerves calmed, in the third quarter, we took the lead,” explained Tremont head coach Justin Wahls. “El Paso Gridley is the fifth-ranked team in the state. We played hard, and we’ll see them again on Friday for the last game of the regular season, and we could see them in the regional championship. That means seeing them at least two more times. That means two more battles.”

“Our goal was to stop Ehresman, but we just weren’t able to do it tonight,” Wahls added. “Hopefully, we can next time.”

By Steve Robinson | January 27, 2013 - 10:52 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – Following a hearing during which no members of the public spoke, Unit 5 School Board members unanimously voted to reimburse the district the money used to help pay for asbestos removal and the subsequent renovations that followed at Chiddix Junior High School last spring and summer.

The district will use current working cash fund bonds to reimburse itself $3.75 million used to complete the asbestos cleanup and renovations that followed. The school was closed for most of the spring semester as a result of the work needing to be done.

Although no one spoke at the public hearing, the public still will have 30 days after a legal notice is published to ask for a referendum on the bonds. If the district so chooses, Unit 5 can take a few cents off the tax rate from the Social Security Fund and Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund to make up for the bond tax rate. He added the Board will have the chance to review the district tax levy annually every December.

“We feel it’s a healthy fund we could take one, two, or three cents from,” said District Superintendent Dr. Gary Niehaus, in explaining the situation to Board members.

“I’m not thrilled about issuing more debt,” said Board member Wendy Maulson, a member of the Board’s Finance Committee. “We at the Finance Committee thought it was important to set aside money to pay for a new high school.” As the population of the district has grown in past years, Unit 5 has talked about the need for a third high school to be built in the next few years.

Board member Mark Pritchett countered Maulson, saying the money was needed to reimburse the district for what it spent on CJHS renovations. The sale of the bonds will be discussed at the Board’s Feb. 27 meeting.

Mike Clark Named Cedar Ridge Elementary’s New Principal: Niehaus announced Mike Clark as the new principal at Cedar Ridge Elementary School. He replaces Geoff Schoonover, who has been hired as the new superintendent for Windsor Community School District. Schoonover will begin his new duties in July. “We understand that Geoff will need time to prepare and we want Cedar Ridge to continue to prosper, so we are making the change in leadership now,” Niehaus said in a statement released to the media following the meeting.

Until he exits Unit 5 for his new job, Schoonover will serve as associate principal at Parkside Junior High School for the remainder of the school year. An open house honoring Schoonover will be held on Thursday, Jan. 31 from 3:30p.m.-5:30p.m.

A 1985 graduate of Illinois State University, Clark comes to Cedar Ridge after being at PJHS where he has been associate principal since 2009. Clark has previously held jobs in Unit 5 such as teacher, athletic director, and assistant principal at Normal Community High School. Prior to his experience in Unit 5, Clark was a teacher, coach, and administrator in the Clinton School District.

A family event will be held for parents and students to get to meet Clark at the school on Tuesday, Feb. 5, from 5p.m.-6p.m.

Health/Life/Safety Measure Approved: Board members unanimously approved a measure to seek repairs on a break in the hot water supply pipe at Eugene Field School.

Wellness Update Presented: School nurse Suzy Marcum and Dayna Brown, assistant to the superintendent, presented Board members with a wellness update, which included the fact second, fourth, and sixth graders were recently surveyed about what kind of different healthy food options they would enjoy. Brown added district grade schools no longer use food as birthday treats because, among other reasons, doing so cuts into learning time.

Digital Conversion Equals Fewer Books; Netbook Issue Presented: As part of an update by Dr. Sandy Wilson, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and Marty Hickman, Unit 5’s director of technology, explained to Board members that an increase in individualized instruction, done with Netbooks and computers, helps reduce the need for copies of each book in a classroom because students will not all be studying the same book at the same time.

On another technology-related subject, all 1,100 sixth grade students in the district were individually issued Netbooks last spring, each costing the district around $400. But Hickman informed Board members a defect in the devices – a malfunctioning start button – has presented itself to some of its users. Hickman informed Board members the district is working with the Netbooks’ manufacturer on the issue.

Board Receives Budget Update: The current school year has moved into its second half and Board members learned the district, to that point, has spent slightly less than half of its $98.3 million budget for the year. “The State still owes us money,” District Business Manager Erik Bush informed Board members. Unit 5 is still looking to receive about $3.2 million from Springfield for reimbursement due the district from the State – monies that would be divided between the district’s transportation and education funds once it arrives.

Vocational Training Center’s “Good News”: Jane Collins, Coordinator, Unit 5 Vocational Training Center, Decker Industries in Normal, presented information to Board members concerning the efforts of the Center’s students and staff in organizing and operating the McLean County Unit 5 district coat drive.

Approximately 800 plus coats started arriving in bags and boxes in the period between September and December. Several Vocational Training Center students were responsible for unloading the coats as they arrived. The first step in the process was to sort coats according to size and gender. Students set up areas in two classrooms and sorted the coats by gender. Once the coats were separated, students took an inventory of the coats received. Coat Drive organizers created a spreadsheet and shared it with Brown, assistant to the Superintendent. Brown would email the Training Center each week with coat orders.

As orders came in, Training Center students would pick out coats to fill school requests. As the drive continued, the students involved starting thinking about the individuals that would be receiving the coats. They were particularly excited about receiving the “little coats” sizes 2 -4. Students also had a large selection of hats and gloves to send with coats.

Not only did Training Center students collect coats, but some also received them.

Local students who participated in the drive were from Normal Community High School and Normal Community West High School. They were joined by students from Heyworth High School, and Bloomington-based High Road School.

Those honored for their participation were: NCHS students Brooke Allen, Kailey Bulyca, Ashley Collins, Suni Canonigo, Jeffrey Peveto, John Raney, Emma Scholl, Sherra Song, Tiffany Terven, and Shannah Williams; Normal Community West High students Jesse Beck, TJ Bennett, Jerimy Boekeloo, Brett Campbell, Abby Clay, Beth Cobert, Stephen Donhardt, Kelsey Dunham, Jessica Emmert, Dakota Evans, Alex Fike, Gaige Gundy, Kenny Funk, Zachariah Garey, Bryan Hampton, Jordan Jones, Brandon Klatt, Jeremy McDonald, Devin Nelson, Jackson Pritz, Laura Ramirez-Flores, Elizabeth Sherman, Sammy Speight, Hunter Smith, Unique Taylor, Matt Zimmerman, and Sarah Zimmerman; High Road students Cassie Hill, Joshua Howard-Hunt, Cody Palma, and Cam Wilken; and Heyworth High School student Mitchell Hancock

Unit 5 Staff and VTAP coordinators involved were members: Cherri Campbell, Carole Cavallaro, Susan Dematteo, Jenetta Ewins, Ellen Farney, Lewis Dickinson, Carol John, Geralyn Miskulin, Kyle Myers, Demetria Neal, Ilene Snyder, Jill Ziebarth, Susie Zink, Hilary Ruyle, Heather Plattner, Jill Prochnow, and Dawn Sheppelman.

Kingsley Junior High’s “Good News”: The Kingsley Junior High School 8th grade basketball team, coached by Corey Ostling, and assistant coach Brittney Gardner, was honored by Board members for their most recent accomplishment. The Cavaliers defeated Rochester Junior High School, 40-34, to win the Illinois Elementary School Association Class 8-4A title. KJHS finished the season with a 25-1 record. Rochester was perfect on the season, at 26-0, before running into the Cavaliers.

In fact, in the last three years these girls have played on teams, they have amassed a combined total of 74-4.

Members of the team are: Gracie Edwards, Nia Gilbert, Kate Gustafson, Emily Hamm, Raven Hughes, Jakara Hunter, Brianna Jones, Julia Lemke, Corinne Monroe, Amber Nanni, Leah Sebade, Kendall Sosa, Olyvia Spencer, and Claire Weber.

By Steve Robinson | January 26, 2013 - 10:46 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

Occasionally, reporters and editors take a look at what is in their notes and decide some items don’t belong as a full story. The item might not even have much to it for a full-fledged column. And when an all-purpose event like the 102nd McLean County/Heart Of Illinois Conference Tournament rolls around, and the high school season being at the halfway mark, the timing just seemed right to look through my reporter’s notebook and snoop around a little to let you what other items I have found lately.

Ridgeview Boys Take Second, Losing To Tri-Valley: Congratulations to sixth seed Tri-Valley Vikings, winners of the Boys Championship of the 102nd McLean County/HOIC Tournament. The Vikings defeated fifth seed Ridgeview, 52-31, to take this year’s title game.

In the end, as Ridgeview head coach Rodney Kellar sums it up, “Unfortunately, we had a good tournament, but we didn’t have a good game. That’s a compliment to Tri-Valley. They did a very good job defensively, and collectively, we weren’t able to put anything together offensively.”

“We knew that Ridgeview was going to fight all the way to the end,” Tri-Valley head coach Jon Nelson said, ceremonially tipping his hat to the Mustangs following his Vikings’ victory. “We have nothing but respect for Rodney and his kids. They give everything they have.”

“Defensively, I thought our effort wasn’t too bad for the first half, but the second half wasn’t as good,” Kellar said. “When you don’t put the ball in the basket, it’s hard to get anything going at either end of the floor because that will give confidence to play at either end. In the first half, I thought we had some good looks that we didn’t finish, but in the second half, it just didn’t get any better.”

The Vikings led 11-4 after one quarter; 23-14 at halftime; and 41-22 after three quarters. Blake Cowden led his team’s victorious point totals with 19 points. No Ridgeview players reached double-figures, but the closest to get to that were senior forward Brock Heimer and senior guard Cory Winterland, each man scoring seven points.

A Thousand Congratulations, Each, To Rebekah Ehresman And Codee Schlipf: When one high school basketball player reaches a milestone, — such as reaching the 1,000 point mark in their playing career — of course, it ought to be recognized. But when two players reach that mark – in the same game, no less – that’s really cause for celebration. Well, Rebekah Ehresman and Codee Schlipf of El Paso Gridley’s girls’ team each reached the 1,000 point mark on Jan. 21, when EPG defeated Ridgeview 51-19 in their second round contest. Ehresman had 21 points, while Schlipf netted 10 in the victory over the Mustangs.

“I knew we were both close to the thousand,” Ehresman said of reaching that marker. “But I didn’t expect to get it in that game.”

“It was pretty cool, actually,” Ehresman said. “I would say it was special, in part, because I got it with Codee here,” she added, gesturing to her teammate and friend, both of whom have been on a basketball team together, at one point or another, since they were in second grade, and organized ball since fifth grade.

During the game against Ridgeview, neither girl was intentionally gunning for the 1,000th point, Ehresman said. “We were more about getting the win, getting the team as far as possible. We really didn’t know we were that close to the thousand.”

“When it happened, it was cool,” Schlipf said. “There’s no one I would have rather gotten a thousand points with.” The glow of the moment was brief, however, because, Schlipf added, “winning the HOI Tournament comes first.”

“We would have never gotten the thousand without our teammates,” Schlipf added. “There’s no way. We do everything as a team. We work as a team. It was a fun night for us, but, the thousand wasn’t our goal. I mean, winning’s first.”

“I knew they were close going in,” explained Titans head coach Kyle Bobbitt about where he thought the girls’ point totals were prior to the game against Ridgeview. “I knew it was close. I knew it would take a pretty good night from both of them.”

But Bobbitt said there is a reason why these girls got as far as they did. “They both have put in a lot of time over the years,” he said. “They come in early, they stay after practice. They’re committed to making themselves better. So it’s only fitting for both of them to get it. For them to play together all that time and to get the honor the same night is very special.”

Big 12 Action Doubled: Before Mattoon exited for the Apollo Conference last year, Big 12 Conference teams would only see each other once during the basketball season. Seeing anybody twice was rare. But now with nine teams in the conference with Mattoon’s departure, Normal West girls’ head basketball coach Angie Codron was trying to prep her players for seeing old foes more than once for a while starting this season.

“It’s nice to play everybody twice, try to work on some things, and send opponents a message the second time around,” Codron said. “By the second time we play them, everybody is a little bit better after the first time we play them, so, the kids need to know how you play and what you do matters.” Those, Codron said, are lessons she wants her players take into the second game against opponents this season. Normal West won the “Pink Game” on Jan. 24, the charity game that raised funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation to fight breast cancer, topping Normal Community, 51-26. The Wildcats’ junior varsity squad also chalked up a victory before the varsity game, beating the JV Ironmen, 49-34.

Congratulations, 8th Grade Champion Kingsley Junior High Cavaliers: Congratulations are in order for our area’s junior high powerhouse, the Kingsley Junior High School 8th grade basketball team, coached by Corey Ostling, and assistant coach Brittney Gardner. The Cavaliers defeated Rochester Junior High School, 40-34, to win the Illinois Elementary School Association Class 8-4A title. KJHS finished the season with a 25-1 record. Rochester was perfect on the season, at 26-0, before running into the Cavaliers.

In fact, in the last three years these girls have played on teams, they have amassed a combined total of 74-4. Ostling and his players were recently recognized by Normal-based Unit 5 School Board at their meeting earlier this month, and it was recognition well-deserved.

NORMAL –Normal Council members unanimously approved a resolution to appropriate $365,000 of the Town’s allotment of Motor Fuel Tax funds for the improvement of Raab Rd, from 800 feet west of Airport Rd. to 200 feet west of North Pointe Dr.

Motor Fuel Tax funds are budgeted for fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14 for design and construction of improvements to that specific section of Raab Rd. Proposed improvements for that part of the street include construction of a 30-foot roadway with curb and gutter, sidewalks, storm sewers, and necessary appurtenances.

Council member Adam Nielsen asked if roads west of the scheduled road work the Council was approving would see an upgrade. Gene Brown, Normal’s City Engineer, said the area west of Northpoint Rd. was not fully developed.

City Manager Mark Peterson said the Town could do the road located west of Northpoint Rd. but with no active development on that side of the road, any developer wanting to build up the property would be responsible for the cost of half of a 30-foot street. The Town would pay for the other half of that cost.

Action On Ordinance Regarding Tree Trimming Companies Postponed: Council members had planned to discuss a proposed ordinance which would require tree trimmers and cutters to obtain a license from the Town prior to operation. However, prior to the start of the meeting, Mayor Chris Koos announced the item was pulled from the meeting agenda so the Town could continue researching the matter further.

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

• Approval of minutes of the regular meeting held Jan.7, 2013.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Jan. 16, 2013.

• A motion to accept the low bid and authorize Town Staff to enter into a contract with Tarter Construction, LLC in the amount of $127,000 for the construction of the Constitution Trail restroom facility.

• A resolution authorizing the filing of the Town’s 2013-2014 action plan for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with McLean County for centralized booking services.

• A resolution requesting temporary closures of State right-of-way for annual community events.

• An ordinance rezoning property in the Town of Normal – 209, 211, 213, and 215 N. Fell St., 302 N. School, 308 Kingsley, 207 S. Linden Ave., and 900 S. Linden Ave.