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Saturday, March 3, 2012

State #1-"No School Friday"

Part of the fun of going to the State Tourney is it triggers different memories from our trips to State. There are a lot of good memories.

I can remember when I first went to the State tourney, I would take note cards with me. I would write down anything I thought could help me. After all, the teams I was watching must have had something going for them. I would jot down warmup drills, out of bounds plays, etc.

First we made it to the Regional finals and could not win. Would you believe we made it to 9 Regional finals in a row and lost every time. You name the way, we lost. We lost in overtime, and we lost blow outs.

In 1988 we won our first Regional at Canton. We were the heavy favorite in that one. Our bust didn't leave until 5pm so I came home after school and thought I would try to take a nap. For an hour I just layed down and got nervous. We won- what a relief. That year and the next three years, we lost the first game of the Sectional. In 1992 we made it to the Sectional finals only to lose to Limestone at Limestone.

We won the Sectional finally in 1995 with a win over Peoria ND at Galesburg. The place was packed. It was a thrill to win on your home court. We lost to a veteran Normal team at the Pekin Supersectional. It was tough. We lost some great seniors, we weren't going to be as good the next year. I made the prophetic comment to Coach Rux, "If we couldn't make it to State with this team, we are never going to make it to State." I was wrong.

The next year we were minus All-Stater Bonny Apsey and All-Stater Stef Mitchell. We struggled early in the year. We went on a three game losing streak right before Christmas. But things jelled at the right time. We made it to the Ottawa Sectional. We pulled off a huge upset over Freeport in the first game of the Sectional. Molly Watson drove the length of the floor for the game winner. Freeport had a veteran team who had been to State. We defeated Moline in the Sectional championship, and advanced to the Dixon Supersectional.

At Dixon we faced a Belvidere team which was either undefeated or had only one loss. We got the lead late on a three pointer by Ami Pendry. Before that shot, Ami could not make a basket in the Regional or Sectional games. We got the lead and held the ball. Sara Wood got fouled, and fouled, and fouled. Sara made free throw after free throw- to ice the game.

As the game seconds ticked off, our student body started with the famous cheer- "No school Friday." It sent chills listening to it. And when the horn went off, it was bedlam. Finally, we were going to State.

And indeed there was no school the next Friday- we played Normal at Redbird on Friday morning at 9:00am!

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