Ahead of Anthony Zilis’ Sunday story about what comes next for Champaign’s bid for the IHSA boys’ basketball state tournament ...
Don’t ask Craig Anderson if he frequented State Farm Center, then called the Assembly Hall, for the IHSA boys’ basketball tournament when it was at its longtime home.
It’s a sore spot for the 1987 graduate of Cambridge, which won a sectional title when Anderson was a senior.
“I’d like to be able to tell you that I played there,” the IHSA executive director said, “but I ended up three points short of being able to play at the University of Illinois back when I was in high school.”
Bids were due Friday to host the 2021-23 IHSA boys’ basketball tournaments, and the Champaign contingent got its in a day early. They’ll be competing with Peoria, which has hosted the tournament for the last 23 years.
Anderson fully understands the nostalgia that State Farm Center brings for high school basketball fans.
Even though he didn’t play there, he did make the trip to Champaign as a sophomore. He was a spectator for the Cambridge girls’ team in 1985.
“I recall the excitement as a kid of wanting to play in the Hall,” he said. “I shot baskets as a kid and tried to do everything I could do to have that potential, and I fell just short of that opportunity. But I remember when, as a young kid growing up, that’s what you wanted to do when you were in high school. Great memories of those trips and seeing games.”