The stands were a sea of orange and blue as the Eastland faithful cheered on their Cougars. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
The 4th place Eastland Cougars team and coaches pose with their medallions and trophy. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
The victorious Eastland Cougars pose with their Super Sectional plaque after defeating the Newark Norsemen in DeKalb on March 6th - 51-41 - to advance them to the IHSA Class 1A Final Four. Visit www.pacc-news.com for exclusive video and photo slideshows of the Eastland Cougars downstate. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
The Cougars Marshall Fink (#43) battles Newark’s Jack Clausel (#42) and Cole Krug (#12) for a rebound during Wednesday evening’s game in DeKalb. Marshall pulled down one rebound and scored two points in the Cougar ten point win. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
The Cougar’s Ty Hartman tries to dribble by a Madison defender during first game semifinal action at Carver Arena in Peoria on Friday. Ty was the second leading scorer for the Cougars with eighteen points as Madison held on for the one point win. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
Eastland’s Ty Hartman looks for an open teammate with the Norsemen’s Kenny Hume defending. Ty scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds in the victory. Visit www.pacc-news.com for exclusive video and photo slideshows of the Eastland Cougars downstate.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
Eastland’s Dalton Shaner puts up a jumper over Madison’s Marquis Borney during Friday semifinal action in Peoria. Dalton led the Cougars with nineteen points.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
The Cougar’s Skylar Paulson eyes the bucket as the Trojan’s Deontay Starnes defends. Skylar scored nine of Eastland’s fifty points. Visit www.pacc-news.com for exclusive video and photo slideshows of the Eastland Cougars downstate.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
The Cougar’s Austin Hansen puts up a jump shot during Friday afternoon’s contest. Austin went 0-7 from the field but pulled down three rebounds, had two blocked shots and two steals.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
The Cougar’s Dalton Shaner glides to the basket to lay one in during Saturday’s third place game. Dalton led all scorer’s in the game with twenty nine points as Eastland fell to Nokomis 44-42. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
Brenden Dauphin, sophomore basketball stand-out from River Ridge (Hanover), out shot 32 Class 1A players to claim the 2013 3-Point Showdown on Friday, March 14 at Carver Arena in Peoria. Dauphin won Group 4 to advance to the final four. In the championship round, Dauphin nailed 11-three-pointers, beating Jayson Hapeman from Woodlawn by one shot. Dauphin’s next challenge will be during the “King of the Hill,” set for Saturday, March 16, when the winners from all four IHSA classes square off. The event is sponsored by COUNTRY Financial. Good Luck, Brenden! (PA photo/Tom Kocal)
A picture speaks a thousand words. Dalton Shaner is consoled by teammate Valdet Seferi.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
Eastland Cougar head coach Tony Dunlap addresses the crowd gathered at EHS on Sunday afternoon’s welcome home celebration for the IHSA Class 1A 4th place Cougars. Visit www.pacc-news.com for exclusive video and photo slideshows of the Eastland Cougars downstate. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
Eastland Boys Super Sectional 2013
EHS 4th in IHSA Class 1A
Class 1A DeKalb Super Sectional
Eastland 51 Newark 41
Score By Periods
Newark 12-7-10-12 - 41
Eastland 14-10-13-14 – 51
Newark: Joe Hughes 2-3, 0-0, 5; Matt Elke 2-4, 0-0, 5; Kenny Hume 1-3, 0-0. 2; Grant Riehle-Moeller 3-4, 0-0, 6; Cole Krug 0-0, 0-0, 0; Mitchell Schmidt 0-0, 0-0, 0; Jayson Shirley 0-0, 0-0, 0; Jack Clausel 3-4, 2-3, 8; Brett Anderson 5-20, 2-2, 15
Pride in the Cougars and the blue and orange? More than Carver Arena in the Peoria Civic Center could possibly hold.
After earning their berth in the Final Four with an impressive win over the formidable Newark Norsemen in the DeKalb Super Sectional, Eastland made their second appearance in Peoria since 2010 and made believers of all that witnessed their play, and their heart, over the weekend at the Class 1A/2A State Finals.
Now, I could ramble on and give you the play by play of each game, but if you’re reading this you were either there or watched or listened to the games, so you know what happened. You’ll find the box scores elsewhere in these sports pages. Instead I decided to give you my impressions, from a sportswriter’s standpoint of the weekend in Peoria.
The Prairie Advocate publisher Tom Kocal and I left Lanark early Friday morning for the trip to Peoria with high expectations. Having followed the Cougars all season, I was excited for Tom to finally get to see their style of play firsthand. I kept telling him all year what a special team this was and how hard they played.
The drive down Route 40 was easy and we arrived at the Civic Center about an hour and a half before the third place game tip off. Checking in at the IHSA media gate we made our way through the facility and down through the arena to the tunnel leading to the media room.
Meeting and discussing the upcoming contests with colleagues in the media world, we were getting ready for the upcoming match up. As we took to the Carver Arena floor, both teams had taken to the court to begin the pre-game warm ups. The first semi-final game tipped off very close to schedule and the IHSA Class 1A State Finals were on.
Classic Match Up
Both Madison and Eastland were totally prepared and we all knew we were going to see a classic match up of two very good teams. The Cougars held a narrow one point lead after the opening quarter (12-11). The second quarter was much more of the same. The period ended with the Trojans outscoring the Cougars thirteen to twelve and the game was tied at twenty four points apiece at the intermission.
Cougar point guard Dalton Shaner made what I considered the play of the game in the second quarter, when he took a pass in the corner, drove towards the basket, was stopped by a Madison defender and put a 360 degree spin move on him that left him wondering, “Where did he go?” as Shaner layed the ball into the bucket. (Go to www.pacc-news.com and watch it on video - a great move indeed!) A couple of sports writers behind me at the media table could be heard saying, “whoa” and “what was that”!
The third period continued the intensity between both teams as stifling defenses kept both teams from making anything easy as the quarter ended with the Cougars holding a slim one point advantage (34-33).
The final period saw both offenses come alive a little more and the game went back and forth with neither team able to gain much of an advantage. With under ten seconds to play and the Cougars clinging to a 50-49 lead, Skylar Paulson was called for his fifth foul on the Trojan’s Deontay Starnes who calmly knocked down two free throws to put Madison up 51-50.
After a timeout, the Cougars put the basketball in play and the ball was knocked loose from Shaner with the Trojans gaining possession as the final horn sounded.
You could almost feel the intensity that had been present the whole contest leave the building as the reality of what we had just witnessed began to sink into the sea of blue and orange that packed the stands.
As the players and coaches left the court for their respective locker rooms, we made our way to the media press room for the post game press conference. When Madison took to the podium, Trojan All-State standout Marquis Borney was asked his impressions of the Eastland squad they had just defeated. His reply, “Man, I respect that team. They play like we do.”
After Madison had left the room, the Cougars took to the podium. As Eastland head coach Tony Dunlap leaned into his microphone, his opening comment was, “Losing is not fun. Any questions?”
After they had fielded all the questions asked, they left the podium and Tom and I made out way back into the arena to check out a little of the second semifinal contest and get a feel for who we thought we might be facing in tomorrow’s third place contest. Neither Illini Central or Nokomis were particularly impressive to begin their semifinal game and we both thought no problem, third place is ours. We left the Civic Center disappointed for the loss but both feeling good about our chances for the next day’s contest.
Saturday’s journey to Peoria was gloomy and wet with a constant rain falling on our trip. The skies remained cloudy but the rain had subsided by the time we parked in the media lot and made out way into the Civic Center.
We again found our place in the media room and began to unload our equipment and get ready for the day’s games. Talking to fellow members of the press, we were all in agreement that there was no doubt in our minds, third place was ours.
The contest tipped off on schedule and the third place game was underway. Things were looking good as the Cougars pulled out to an early lead and held a two point advantage (10-8) going into the second quarter. The game was tight throughout but Eastland was able to open up a ten point lead in the second quarter. Nokomis was able to claw their way back and trailed by four points (22-18) at the half.
A ten to eight third quarter scoring advantage closed the gap to just two points (30-28) going into the final period. Back and forth the game went as neither team could shake anyone open with both defenses clamping down.
The game was knotted and forty two all when Nokomis’ Evan Huber got a small look at the hoop and drained what proved to be the game winner in the final seconds. With one second remaining, Eastland had one more shot but Dalton Shaner’s almost full court shot bounced off the backboard wide left and the victory went to the Redskins.
Two losses in two days by a grand total of three points. In the post game press conference, Eastland head coach Tony Dunlap pointed out that in four years, the Cougar’s had lost back to back games just two times, with both coming on the hardwood at Carver Arena.
Tom and I drove home that afternoon wondering what might have happened with a few more breaks for the blue and orange. Sure, first would have been sweet, but how many Class 1A teams in the state never get the chance to have experienced what we had just witnessed? Fourth place in the state is much, much sweeter than fifth.
A hero’s welcome faced the coaches and players as they arrived back in Lanark on Sunday afternoon. A good crowd heard EHS Principal Monica Burkholder, Superintendent (and Dad) Mark Hansen, Lanark’s Mark Macomber, Shannon’s Amanda Klinefelter, the players and coaches express their appreciation for all the support they had received during this whole experience.
Our personal thanks and congratulations go out to all for the absolutely amazing experience we were able to be a part of. Hold your heads high Eastland, you are truly amazing. And, this is an experience we will all remember for a long, long time. Let’s do it again in 2014 - three’s a charm!
At the Milledgeville High School Winter Sports Awards night on March 6th, Kayleigh Leddy received the Erin Lowe Memorial Award.
Milledgeville High School Girls Basketball special award winners from the winter sports awards night on March 6th. L to R: Elizabeth Bryant- Most Improved Player & Best Free Throw %, Kayleigh Leddy-Hustle Award, Courtney Swalve- Most Valuable Player & Most Rebounds, and Taylor Grenoble- Most Steals.
The Milledgeville High School Boys Basketball special awards from the winter sports awards night on March 6th. L to R: Kameron DawTyne- Best Free Throw %, Kaleb Ebersole- Lyle Nesemeier MVP Award, Daniel Walker- Most Improved Player, Best Defensive Player, & Hustle Award, Caleb Skoog- Allen Woodin Memorial Award.