PEORIA -- We're courtside, and we're 30 minutes away from tipoff for the Class 1A state championship boys' basketball game, featuring a Salt Fork Storm team with 26 consecutive victories and a Sessier-Valier team which endured a stretch starting in early January when it lost seven of 10 games.
Sessier brings a 26-9 record into the finals. Salt Fork is 32-1, a school record for wins for the Catlin and Jamaica all-sports cooperative.
PEORIA -- Nine minutes until tip-off of Salt Fork's first boys' basketball state semifinal game.
Carver Arena is about half full. The Salt Fork cheering contingent is loud -- as usual -- and could be the proverbial sixth man.
The Storm left the floor for their final words of wisdom from coach Aaron Hird before tipoff. Warmups looked good. No obvious signs of tension.
It didn't strike me until the final girls' basketball regular-season game I covered. It was a Friday night (Feb. 5) at Champaign in a non-conference contest where Fisher defeated Judah Christian.
The regional tournaments are in full force for Class 1A and 2A girls' basketball teams. Throughout the area -- and throughout the state -- schools are viewing the postseason as a second chance for success or to make a statement about how much they've improved.
On one hand, it's great to see the underdog or unheralded teams shine in the tournament. It's further proof that on that proverbial given day, most teams can be beaten. It's a testament that hard work -- quite often -- does pay dividends.
Out-of-state choice helps alleviate pressure of expectation
Is this an idea whose time has arrived?
Here's what we know will be played
How we're coming up with the choices for our high school All-Decade teams
Short-handed Danville puts up another valiant effort
Vikings advance, B-H falls short and all county schools have nominees for a Sunday evening awards banquet at a northside Danville church