Prep pulse | March 19

Prep pulse | March 19

Our winter All-Area coverage is off and running.

In Sunday's News-Gazette, readers could see our All-Area girls' basketball package. It was headlined by Schlarman junior Anaya Peoples, who repeated as Player of the Year after keying the Hilltoppers to the first state championship in program history.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Schlarman leader Keith Peoples was also named Coach of the Year, for the second time in three seasons.

As usual, we also provided each of our 10 first-team athletes with a short questionnaire to let them tell us a little more about themselves. Sports are about more than who wins and loses, after all.

Add to this our final girls' basketball top 10, the complete list of All-Area honorees and a bevy of statistics, and you've got a comprehensive look back at the season that was.

But we're not done with All-Area winter sports content just yet.

As sports editor Matt Daniels says in this week's "Welcome Matt," we've got wrestling and boys' basketball coming up, with boys' swimming and diving waiting in the wings.

We're doing something a little different this season, as we're trying to make sure each sport's stars are given their due for the success of another campaign. And so, we brought in not only the basketball players for photos and questionnaires, but also the wrestlers, swimmers and divers.

These opportunities offered plenty of fun moments.

If you follow me on Twitter (@clikasNG), you might've seen my behind-the-scenes images from the wrestling and swimming photo shoots. Somehow, we ended up on a building's roof with our water-bound kids.

The swimmers and divers are all very close with one another, which led to plenty of laughter and jokes tossed between the guys.

Wrestling featured a similar atmosphere. For a bunch of youngsters who are all about being physically tough and aim to overpower their opponents, our 14 first-teamers kept things very light while waiting to get their pictures snapped. Even as we captured a team photo, the boys had a hard time deciding whether they wanted to be serious or have some fun with the moment.

Perhaps the most spontaneously entertaining happening took place during the boys' basketball photo shoot, though.

After a team portrait, each boy realized, almost simultaneously, they were palming a basketball.

For the next 10 minutes, an impromptu shootaround broke out at Illinois' Ubben Basketball Complex.

All-Area coverage ... you can't beat it.