Prep pulse: Say cheese

Prep pulse: Say cheese

Thirteen. That's how many teams are left tying the high school sports scene to its winter season.

After Schlarman girls' basketball on Saturday won its first-ever state championship, defeating Stockton 53-31 in the Class 1A title game at Redbird Arena, it left 15 area boys' basketball squads vying for postseason hardware.

Two of those clubs dropped off when Judah Christian surprised Cissna Park in a regional title game, 68-55, for the Tribe's inaugural postseason hardware, and when Watseka fell short against Momence in a regional final, 65-61.

So now we have 13 local boys' hoops teams trying to play into March. Most of them are big-school faces that begin their playoff runs within the next three days, while Judah Christian, Ridgeview, Monticello and St. Joseph-Ogden are keeping their presence felt in the small-school brackets.

What does all of this mean, though, as we transition to the spring months? That it's time for another photo shoot.

Each academic year, we set up three different dates to bring in area stars for a moment in the spotlight. Our fall and winter sports photo shoots have come and gone, leaving a round of snapshots for athletes in baseball, softball, track and field, boys' tennis and girls' soccer.

This will take place six days from today at our downtown Champaign office. With the help of photographer Della Perrone and News-Gazette graphic designer Eric Bartell, as well as local coaches, athletic directors and parents, we'll bring in a bevy of throwers, runners, kickers, swatters and more.

The resulting images will run throughout the spring athletics campaign, with five per day during a given week.

If you miss your youngster's chance to appear in print, though, don't fret. We'll run online photo galleries at for each sport.

This annual event is a fun way for us to connect with local athletes right off the bat, before they jump headlong into their chase for state success and more. It's also a cool opportunity for family and friends of these kids to have a little memento from the high school days.

On the note of prep sports photos, we've had a running gallery over the last couple of months detailing east central Illinois' best and brightest signing to continue their athletic ventures at the college level.

At last update, that gallery numbers 39 photos. I even received two on Sunday afternoon, shortly after tweeting out a link to the page.

So keep sending those in as well ( This is the sort of stuff we can't get enough of.