PEORIA — Three officials from the Champaign-based Illinois Basketball Officials Association were selected by the IHSA to work tournament games this weekend in the 1A and 2A state finals at the Peoria Civic Center.
Monticello’s Steve Mitze will make his third trip to the finals. Colfax’s Cliff Armstrong will make his second appearance. Making his state tournament debut is Mark Jontry of Normal.
For Mitze — who also has worked state finals in football — this won’t necessarily be his final trip to state.
“What we used to say was you could have no more than three trips,” IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said. “We don’t have a maximum number. We don’t anticipate people will be coming four, five, six times. It takes a good official several years to make it to a state final. I don’t anticipate we’ll have four-, five- or six-time state finals officials, but we currently do not have a limit.”
Simeon reinstates ex-Viking
CHICAGO — Danville native Donte Ingram, who transferred to Simeon last fall, has regained eligibility. Ingram played in early-season games but sat out seven games after the IHSA determined his family had not followed proper transfer rules.
Once that requirement was satisfied, Ingram returned to action seven games ago. In last week’s regional semifinals, he had eight points and seven rebounds against Mount Carmel. In the regional finals, he scored six points as second-ranked Simeon (Class 4A) advanced to this week’s sectional at Argo.
Another area transfer, Jaycee Hillsman from St. Thomas More, has remained at the school and still is practicing but remains ineligible due to transfer rules. Hillsman and Ingram are juniors.
If Hillsman remains at the school, he would automatically be eligible for his senior season. “The maximum period (of ineligibility following a transfer) is 365 days,” Hickman said.
Vermilion honors sportsmen
DANVILLE — Senior Emerson Grey, from Armstrong-Potomac, and junior Lexy Terry, from Oakwood, were chosen as the individual Vermilion County sportsmanship winners for the recently completed basketball season.
Grey, who is in line to be his school’s valedictorian, made an impression with veteran coach Mike Twidwell, who was in his first year in charge of A-P.
“After every practice and game, he came up to Coach (Sean) O’Brien and myself to shake our hand and thank us for our efforts,” Twidwell said. “In all my years coaching, he is the only athlete to do this.”
Terry’s season ended prematurely with an injury, but it didn’t lessen her involvement with the Comets.
“She never missed a practice during that time she was injured,” Oakwood coach Jeff Ford said. “Her attitude on and off the court was fantastic.”
Other boys’ nominees were Bismarck-Henning’s Andy Bott, Salt Fork’s Alec Dutton, Westville’s Robert Elliott, Georgetown-Ridge Farm’s Matthew Gocken, Hoopeston Area’s Joe Warner and Oakwood’s Jeremy Watson.
Other girls’ nominees were Bismarck-Henning’s Alexis Ballard, Salt Fork’s Kaitlyn Carleton, Georgetown-Ridge Farm’s Brittany Hay, Westville’s Carson Richardson, Armstrong-Potomac’s Erika Sieberns and Hoopeston Area’s Olivia Smith.
The team sportsmanship awards went to coach Mike Stephens’ Bismarck-Henning girls’ team and to coach Doug Robinson’s Oakwood boys’ team.
Okaw Valley sticking to six
The revamped Okaw Valley Conference still only has six schools committed for the 2014-15 school year.
“Right now we are content with our six schools, but we will always be open to listening to any school that might have interest,” said Brian Brooks, the principal and boys’ basketball coach at St. Joseph-Ogden who is the conference’s president while the league goes through its restructuring. “We feel like this conference will have a lot to offer other schools. We would like to get to eight or 10 schools eventually, but we will start with six.”
Those six — Maroa-Forsyth, Monticello, Rantoul, St. Thomas More, SJ-O and Unity — have met several times since last fall’s decision to proceed and will continue to meet in the next year to finalize scheduling.
“Scheduling has gone well for most of the sports,” Brooks said. “The only sport where it has been difficult is football. Some of the schools, however, have already filled their schedules. Having six schools will probably force us into a situation where we will still have to travel a little ways for one or even possibly two nonconference games.”
Brooks said SJ-O has two openings left for the 2014 season, securing dates with current Sangamon Valley Conference opponents Clifton Central and Paxton-Buckley-Loda. With only six schools in the Okaw, schools will have to schedule four nonconference games to fill a nine-game regular season schedule.
A-P to have baseball, softball
Armstrong-Potomac athletic director Darren Loschen said the Trojans will have baseball and softball teams this spring after some concern they wouldn’t because of low numbers. Each squad will have 13 players on the team.
Loschen is the Trojans’ baseball coach, and speculation ensued A-P might not have a team after last season’s squad — which consisted of 12 players — graduated seven players and had two returning starters in Kolton Vermillion and Davin Miles transfer.
Vermillion transferred to Rantoul and Miles transferred to Oakwood, leaving Wade Rogers, Jon Snyder and Dentler Loschen as the only returning players.
“We are almost starting from scratch,” Darren Loschen said. “We do have kids that want to play and are dedicated to playing. Players are going to have to learn to play some spots for the first time. It will definitely be an interesting year, (and) I think putting together a pitching staff and some catchers will be the toughest challenge.”
B-H to start soccer team
BISMARCK — After a soccer co-op with Hoopeston Area was not renewed, Bismarck-Henning is moving forward with plans to start its own soccer team this fall. A coach could be hired as soon as next week, and athletic director Tom Johnson is in the process of scheduling matches for a coed squad.
Home matches likely will be played at Danville’s Winter Park. Due to scheduling difficulties, the Blue Devils may play one season as an independent before becoming part of the Vermilion Valley Conference in soccer in 2015.
Without the enrollment of Bismarck-Henning being added to that of Hoopeston Area’s, it’s likely the Cornjerkers will drop from Class 2A for the postseason to Class 1A.
Hoopeston’s decision to end the co-op, athletic director Kevin Root said, “was based on getting beat all the time during the regionals.”
Matt Daniels and Fred Kroner