MOUNT ZION – Donald Stewart began to feel the cramping in his left leg during the second quarter. By the fourth period Friday night, the Champaign Central senior was in serious distress.
Several times Stewart exited not only the game, but the gym – following a trainer out to a Mount Zion High School hallway to stretch the leg and do some light running.
MOUNT ZION – The mood in the Champaign Central locker room Friday was a little different than it was two years ago. Donald Stewart and Verdell Jones, then sophomores, watched as their senior teammates wept after falling to Bloomington in the sectional championship game that year.
"Damien Henderson, our big man, came up to me and V and said, 'Remember this feeling, because when you're back here in two years ya'll are not going to want to feel like this,' " Stewart said.
Verdell Jones cringes at the thought.
He wants nothing to do with suggestions that Champaign Central versus Decatur Eisenhower ultimately is about the matchup between superlative point guards. Ultimately about Verdell Jones versus Lewis Jackson.
CHAMPAIGN – Champaign Central basketball player Donald Stewart says there is no truth to an Internet posting that he has orally committed to Wisconsin.
The senior swingman also said after practice Thursday at Combes Gym that the Badgers have not offered him a scholarship.
MOUNT ZION – The Champaign Central Maroons have done their part. Scott Davis' basketball team will be back on the court here Friday night, when the championship of the Class 3A Mount Zion Sectional is decided.
The question is, will top-ranked and reigning Big 12 Conference champion Decatur Eisenhower be there, too?
The No. 4 Maroons are counting on it.
MOUNT ZION – For a basketball team averaging 71 points a game, this was not exactly standard operating procedure.
In fact, halfway through Champaign Central's game against Normal West on Wednesday night, Maroons center Keith Biggers found the scoreboard downright hard to believe.
NORMAL – Fisher knew it was coming. The Bunnies practiced against it and prepared for it. But when the ball went up Tuesday at Redbird Arena, they had no answer for Warrensburg-Latham's fullcourt pressure defense.
After Dominique Warnsley's jumper on the game's first possession, the Cardinals went into a zone press that gave Fisher fits all night.
NORMAL – As the Fisher starters walked off the floor for the last time Tuesday, they received a standing ovation from their orange- and black-clad fans.
Didn't matter to the folks who traveled the icy roads to Illinois State that their Bunnies trailed by 24 with less than two minutes to play. It was their way of showing appreciation for a group that has given them memories this basketball season that will last for generations.
FISHER – Sam Estes normally pulls his car into the Casey's on Main Street, fills his gas tank and is on his way after a couple of minutes. Sunday, the Fisher senior guard was going through his routine but quickly found this was no typical trip to the gas station.
"It took about 30 minutes because I had to shake everyone's hand," said Estes, who's been sporting an ear-to-ear grin since Fisher knocked off Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley on Friday to win the Class 1A Parkland Sectional. "Everyone through town is so excited about this. It's been unbelievable."
CHAMPAIGN – His nickname is Keithy Beefy, and it seems even a toned-up, slimmed-down Keith Biggers can't shake the tag.
"He's toned up a little bit," Champaign Central teammate Donald Stewart teasingly concedes. "But to us, he's the biggest guy on the court almost every game, so that nickname sticks with him."