The Fourth Place Eastland Cougars pose with their medallions and trophy at Carver Arena in Peoria after the presentation on Saturday. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
IHSA Super-Sectional Elite Eight
Cougars Crush Norsemen
By Craig Lang, Prairie Advocate Sports
On Tuesday evening, March 9, at the Convocation Center in DeKalb, the Eastland Cougars earned their first ever trip to the state final tourney with a 70-57 drubbing of the Newark Norsemen.
Eastland guard Brad Dunlap puts up a jumper with Madison’s Kendall Echols in his face during Saturday’s action in Peoria. Brad led the Cougars in scoring with nineteen in the Madison 75-56 win. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
Eastland came out on fire from the opening tip off and didn’t let up, thanks in large part to senior guard Tony Dunlap raining three-pointers from all over the court. Dunlap set a Convocation Center record by hitting nine three point shots.
The intensity was there on offense and defense as the Cougars made huge stops or forced turnovers time after time. Eastland jumped out to a 17-10 lead after period one and kept the pressure on Newark. They extended that lead to fifteen by the half time buzzer, going into the locker room with a 35-20 edge.
Newark was able to close the gap a little bit in the second half but the Cougars were always able to respond with a run of their own to build the lead back. The Norsemen managed to cut Eastland’s lead to nine points after three quarters at 48-39, but a twenty-two to eighteen advantage in the last quarter amounted to the final outcome.
Eastland’s stingy defense held Akron bound all-stater Kyle Anderson to nineteen points on eight of nineteen shooting.
Tony Jr. led the Cougars with thirty-six points and Collin Macomber added eleven points and seven rebounds. The Cougars now face the top ranked (31-1) Catlin-Salt Fork Storm on Friday at Carver Arena in Peoria.
Newark: B. Anderson 4 3-7 11; J. Anderson 3 2-2 8; K. Anderson 8 3-4 19; Avery 5 2-2 13; Berg 1 0-0 3; Hines 1 0-0 3
3 Point Field Goals: Newark: 3 (Avery 1, Berg 1, Hines 1)
Eastland: 10 (T. Dunlap 9, Lessman 1)
Rebounds: Newark: 26 Eastland: 26
Assists: Newark: 7 Eastland: 17
Steals: Newark: 5 Eastland: 11
Turnovers: Newark: 15 Eastland: 15
Fouled Out: Newark: 1 (K. Anderson)
Eastland: 1 (Byers)
IHSA Class 1A Final Four
Eastland Falls To Catlin-Salt Fork In Semis
Eastland center Collin Macomber battles the Storms David Keenan for a rebound during Friday’s semifinal action at Carver Arena. Collin pulled down thirteen rebounds to lead the Cougars. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
By Craig Lang, Prairie Advocate Sports
From the opening tip off of Friday’s game at Carver Arena in Peoria the Eastland Cougars knew they had a battle on their hands. They were taking on the Class 1A number one ranked team in the state in the Catlin-Salt Fork Storm and they were up for the challenge. They battled the Storm until the last buzzer before falling to the Storm by ten 48-38.
Salt Fork jumped out to an early first quarter lead behind the shooting of forward Joel Learnard, who scored the Storms first five points. Two free throws by Salt Fork’s Ryan Anderson made the score 7-0 before Eastland guard Tony Dunlap would hit a lay up making it 7-2. A foul by Anderson and two free throws by Dunlap made it 7-4 and Tony promptly took a pass after a missed Storm shot and drained a three to knot the score at seven.
A steal by Brad Dunlap and a lay up converted gave the Cougars their first lead of the contest at 9-7. A jumper by Tony as time expired in the first put Eastland up by four at 11-7 entering period number two.
The second quarter was back and forth with the lead changing hands a couple time and the Storm outscoring Eastland eighteen to ten in the period and taking a 25-21 lead in the locker room at the half.
The third quarter would prove to be bittersweet for Eastland as they battled back to regain their lead and built it to five points before disaster struck. With just thirty seconds remaining in the quarter after a Brad Dunlap miss and rebound as brother Tony was bringing the ball up the floor, he was stripped by the Storms John Chandler. In an attempt to steal it back he dove and landed hard on his left shoulder. He glanced over at his dad on the bench and both senior and junior knew what had just happened.
Tony Jr. would later say, “I had problems with that shoulder in eighth grade and I knew it was dislocated right away.”
Senior guard Tony Dunlap puts a shot up at the hoop with Catlin-Salt Fork's Joel Learnard attempting to draw the charge. Tony led Eastland, pouring in twenty-two points before going down with an injury late in the third quarter. The Cougars fell to the Storm 48-38 in Friday's semifinal game.
With Dunlap in the locker room being attended to, the Storm closed the gap to a single point (34-33) on two free throws and a jumper by Learnard. Salt Fork opened the final period by reeling off nine straight points to take a forty two to thirty four lead.
Tony would return and played five minutes in the final quarter attempting only two shots with neither finding the bottom of the net. He struggled to raise his left arm. Before the injury Dunlap had accounted for nineteen of the Cougars twenty one first half points. He finished with twenty two on six of thirteen shooting from the field.
Salt Fork ended the contest going on a nineteen to four run and ending Eastland’s hopes off playing for the 1A title. With the loss the Cougars moved on to face the Madison Trojans on Saturday in the third place contest.
Tony Dunlap led the Cougars with twenty two points and four steals and teammate Collin Macomber pulled down thirteen rebounds. Joel Learnard led the Storm with twenty points.
FT %: Eastland: 68.8% (11-16) Catlin-Salt Fork: 63% (17-27)
Fouled Out: Eastland: 1 (Glastetter)
Eastland Finishes Fourth
By Craig Lang, Prairie Advocate Sports
The Eastland Cougars came out ready to play on Saturday. Unfortunately, they were without their scoring leader, senior Tony Dunlap, who was on the bench after suffering a dislocated left shoulder in the Friday contest against Salt Fork. They were also facing a team in the 23-8 Madison Trojans who were extremely quick and excellent ball handlers. Although the Cougars were able to cut into a huge lead Madison had built up early, they would eventually fall to the Trojans 75-56.
Cougar head coach Tony Dunlap watches the game action intently during Saturday’s contest against the Madison Trojans. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
The Trojans built a big first quarter lead, going on runs of eight and nine points to take a 24-11 first quarter lead. Madison was able to score twelve of their twenty four points via the fast break. Madison was able to extend their lead to as much as thirteen in the second period but the Cougars kept battling back to cut the lead to ten points by the half, outscoring the Trojans fourteen to eleven in the period.
The third period was a good one for Eastland as they kept battling back to eventually knot the score at forty-two on a three pointer by junior guard Brad Dunlap with a shade under three minutes to play in the quarter. Madison then broke out, going on a thirteen point run to build the lead back to 55-42.
A bucket by center Collin Macomber and a Trojan bucket by Delandus Farrar made the margin thirteen at 57-44 with eight minutes left to play. Madison was able to build their lead to as much as twenty-three points in the fourth but the Cougars kept battling and chipping away at the margin.
The biggest ovation of the game came with a minute twenty seven to play as Tony Dunlap came into the contest. The senior guard played about thirty seconds and managed to get off two one handed shots before being replaced by Austin Hansen. The final buzzer sounded on the game and the basketball season with the Trojans taking the fourth quarter eighteen to twelve.
Eastland received their medallions and trophy for fourth place at the half of the second contest of the day. Cougar guard Brad Dunlap said, “We felt we could win the whole game but they broke us down in the fourth quarter. They are fast and we were a little tired, we kept fighting but unfortunately we lost.”
Eastland was led by Brad who scored nineteen with teammates Mack Byers and Collin Macomber scoring twelve and ten points respectively. The Trojans were led by Delandus Farar’s twenty two and Kendall Echols eighteen.
Shannon village president Bonnie Foust speaks during the welcome home celebration ceremony held for the Cougars on Sunday at Eastland High School. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
The Eastland Cougars returned to a big celebration in Lanark at EHS on Sunday afternoon. They were led in a parade of fire trucks with lights flashing and sirens wailing as a crowd awaited them at the high school. The overflow crowd cheered wildly as the coaches and players exited their bus and entered the crowded cafeteria.
Jay Ritchie then introduced the team and they carried their IHSA Class 1A Fourth Place trophy into the gym to be displayed alongside their Regional, Sectional and Super Sectional plaques. Shannon Village President Bonnie Foust said a few words and presented the team with some goodies, and Mark Macomber then spoke on behalf of the City of Lanark. Eastland superintendent Mark Hansen made a few comments and congratulated the team on their outstanding season.
Then it was the coaches turn as Tony Dunlap took to the podium. He spoke about how hard the team had worked to get to this point and son Tony made a few brief comments. There were laughs and tears, much applause and standing ovations. After the introductions and comments concluded a luncheon was held in the EHS cafeteria.
The 28-6 Fourth Place 2009-2010 Eastland Cougars made everyone in the packed gym and the towns of Lanark and Shannon proud with their play and sportsmanship. The players, coaching staff, administration, cheerleaders, advisors and fans should all give themselves a HUGE standing ovation! You made us all proud! Let’s do it again next year!
Video courtesy Craig Kniss Produced by Brent Simmons