CHAMPAIGN — Central tennis coach Scott Davis has a no-cut policy for the boys' program each spring. Two years ago, there were 28 squad members. Last year the roster grew to 35, and this year there's a school-record 47 prospects.
"For a lot of kids, tennis is relatively new," Davis said. "It's a lifetime sport, and I want to introduce them to it."
He has nearly a dozen seniors who likely never will play in a varsity match but are learning the nuances of the game. His policy, however, is producing results.
Two years ago, freshman Alejandro Macias took up tennis. He has advanced up the singles ladder, and when the Maroons open next week, Macias is projected as one of the top six singles players. Senior Helaman Montes-Lucas is another who started tennis as a ninth-grader and is now on the verge of contributing.
Davis is assisted for the second year by his son, Matt, who works with the 31 non-varsity players.
Plunk stars for all-stars
FARMER CITY — Blue Ridge senior Jack Plunk, a News-Gazette All-Area first-teamer, had standout performances in two recent all-star basketball games. He led the Heart of Illinois to a 72-71 triumph against the Sangamon Valley at Gibson City, hitting a tiebreaking free throw with 13.7 seconds left and then grabbing the rebound following a late miss by the SVC. Plunk scored 11 points for the HOIC.
The SVC squad was led by Area Player of the Year Dylan Overstreet, from PBL, who notched a game-high 22 points. Panther teammate Brandon Heyen had 16 points.
Last week, in an all-star contest at Warrensburg, Plunk was named MVP, scoring 12 first-half points as the North handed the South a 106-92 loss. Clinton's Aaron Ennis tallied 10 points.
Redeker leads SVC unit
GIBSON CITY — All-Area selection Taylor Redeker, from CPCI, scored nine points, but the Sangamon Valley Conference girls' all-star team lost 42-34 to its counterpart from the Heart of Illinois. Redeker tied for game-scoring honors.
Ridgeview's Sarah Butler had eight points for the HOIC.
Piper makes all-state cut
PEORIA — Centennial senior Josh Piper was the only area athlete chosen for recognition by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association on one of its first four teams, covering 73 players from 3A and 4A schools. The 6-foot-8 Piper was one of 20 fourth-team selections.
Five athletes from the area were special mention: Danville's D'Lando Carter, Mahomet-Seymour's Reid Farchmin, Urbana's Deonta Jones, Mahomet-Seymour's Zach McClughen and Central's Jay Simpson. In all, there were 79 special mention honorees.
Central's Clayton Jones and Danville's Dennis Hightower were the only area athletes recognized on the 66-player state honorable mention listing.
Cronk makes college choice
FITHIAN — Oakwood senior Logan Cronk will sign a letter of intent to continue his soccer career at Jacksonville's Illinois College. He was an All-Vermilion Valley Conference first-team selection last fall. Cronk was second on the Comets in goals (nine) and first in assists (eight).
PBL coach on the move
PAXTON — Greg Wood, the Paxton-Buckley-Loda football coach the past three seasons, resigned earlier this month to accept a similar position at Lawrenceville High School, which has totaled eight wins in the past five seasons. PBL was on spring break last week, and John Overstreet, the school's athletic director, said "no timeline has been set up" when his replacement could be hired.
The Panthers were 7-20 under Wood.