FISHER — Taw Fredrickson's baseball throwing schedule is lagging.
Not that the senior forward on the Fisher boys' basketball team — and the Bunnies' best returning pitcher on the baseball diamond — seems to mind.
"I'm already 50 days behind, so what's it matter?" Fredrickson said with a laugh after Fisher's 43-31 win against Arthur in the Class 1A Schlarman Sectional championship on Friday. "I've still got to get throwing, but as long as I keep doing this I'll take my time."
"Doing this" is playing in one of the most important basketball games in Fisher's history as the Bunnies will vie for their first ever berth in the state semifinals. The Bunnies (17-14) will meet another surprise Elite Eight entry in Illini Central (16-12) at 7:30 tonight in the Normal Super-Sectional at Illinois State University's Redbird Arena.
One more win and Fisher will meet either top-ranked Brimfield (33-0) or Carrollton (27-4) at noon Friday in a state semifinal at Carver Arena in downtown Peoria. Those two teams tangle tonight in a super-sectional at The Bowl in Jacksonville.
Fisher won the program's second sectional title on Friday, knocking off an upstart Arthur squad. The first time happened in 2008, when senior guard Boyd Estes and junior forward Tate Estes' older brother, Sam, was a senior on that team.
"He tells us all the time how he has the best basketball team in Fisher history, so we're going to have a lot to talk about," said Boyd Estes, the Bunnies' defensive specialist while Tate Estes has played well off the bench in the last three Fisher wins. "It's going to be bragging rights for the rest of our lives, so hopefully we can get the 'W' and surpass his team."
If Fisher does, expect a large — and loud — Bunnies contingent to make the trip to Peoria. Fisher athletic director Ben Derges handed out sectional championship T-shirts to the players amid the postgame celebration at Schlarman's Shebby Gymnasium. An all-school pep rally is planned for this afternoon before the team departs for Redbird Arena, followed shortly thereafter by a fan bus full of students.
"The Fisher community will support any program to the sky," Bunnies coach Ron Ragle said. "The people in Fisher are great. Always have been. Always will be. I talked to the boys and said, 'You're not only playing for yourselves, but you're playing for the fans, the community, your parents and all these people who support you all your life going to all these events. Make them proud.' "
More than likely an afterthought of making it this far after a 10-game losing streak saw Fisher end the regular season at 13-14, Fisher senior forward Dylan Chapman — who, like Fredrickson, is a baseball player for the Bunnies who might be a little rusty with his batting eye when the team opens the baseball season at CPCI next Monday — said the Bunnies are relishing the moment.
"I've always wanted to play over (at Redbird Arena) after watching the other Elite Eight team," said Chapman, who like the other three senior starters the Bunnies have in Fredrickson, Boyd Estes and point guard Parker Perrero, was in eighth grade in 2008. "We've got people saying, 'We get (school) off Friday if you win Tuesday, (but) you can't look past anybody because whoever's made it this far has obviously earned it."