Nancy Stiff's 35-year tenure as the only girls' basketball coach in Arcola High history means there's very little about the program which she does not know.
Several dozen former players, however, helped pull off the ultimate surprise for Stiff last month.
CHAMPAIGN – Donald Stewart hopes Champaign Central will get another crack at fellow Big 12 power Decatur Eisenhower during the postseason.
In the meantime, he and the rest of the Maroons have some healing to do after the Panthers made it painfully clear Friday night which is the superior team right now.
VILLA GROVE – A victory over Tuscola in any athletic event is considered a happening in Villa Grove.
"We know they were shorthanded but we'll still take it," Villa Grove coach Larry Sigler said after Friday's 50-38 win over the Warriors in a nonconference basketball game.
CHAMPAIGN – Before even one second had ticked off the scoreboard clock Tuesday night at Combes Gym, the Urbana Tigers trailed 2-0.
It was that kind of game for Terrence Gray's players, who are painfully shy on varsity experience and still prone to taking their lumps as they learn. Even from the refs, who spotted one of the Tigers dunking during pregame warmups and, per IHSA rules, assessed a technical foul.
URBANA – Urbana won the second half, but Normal Community won the game.
The Tigers trailed 32-14 at halftime against the Ironmen, but coach Terrence Gray's team outscored its opponent 35-27 in the last two quarters of a 59-49 Big 12 Conference loss.
MATTOON – The road to a rout turned into a path of destruction.
On the same night that Danville jumped to a 9-0 lead – forcing six turnovers before Mattoon attempted a shot – the Vikings managed to lose a boys' basketball game. There was a truckload of factors contributing to Mattoon's 51-50 Big 12 Conference victory Friday.
CHRISMAN – With its top three players on the bench having fouled out, Chrisman needed someone to step up in the closing seconds to knock down some clutch free throws.
Enter Cody Owen.
CHAMPAIGN – Even with one starter missing, the fourth-ranked Class 3A basketball team in the state can be a mighty handful.
Just ask the Centennial Chargers, who had no defensive answers Friday night for Decatur Eisenhower's potent attack.
Marcus Jackson's first high school football season at The News-Gazette ended with Friday's loss by Tuscola in the Class 1A state championship game. In between the start of two-a-days and Friday's trophy presentation, Jackson experienced a wild and wacky ride on the Road to Champaign. His look back:
CHAMPAIGN – After four lopsided outcomes in four games on Day 1 of the IHSA state football championships at Memorial Stadium, Day 2 kicked off with a good old-fashioned barnburner in the Class 5A title game.
In a grind-it-out battle between two heavyweight defenses from Morris and Metamora, it was a 140-pound freshman place-kicker, Brennen VanMieghem, who converted the game's biggest play, booting a 26-yard field goal with 27 seconds remaining in the game to lift the Redbirds to a 17-14 victory and their first state title since 1975.