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Right around the corner?

The Rantoul boys’ basketball program certainly hopes that’s the case when it comes to its first win of the season. Ryan Parker’s crew is 0-12 entering Friday’s Illini Prairie Conference matchup at Prairie Central, but the Eagles seem to be on the cusp of a breakthrough. They’ve led at halftime of multiple losses, including the most recent versus Mattoon on Monday. The played Paxton-Buckley-Loda closely last week, as well. Freshman Conner Smith also seems to be providing hope for the future, as he’s been one of Rantoul’s leading point producers of late. The Eagles, as the saying goes, are due.

First impressions matter

La Salette boys’ basketball is eligible for the IHSA postseason for the first time in program history this winter. John Spezia’s Lions didn’t get off to the hottest of starts, at one point holding a 1-6 record. But La Salette now is 6-10 following Tuesday’s road win over Uni High. The Lions actually have lost four of their last six games, but they were decided by five, eight, five and three points — including one overtime defeat. What I’m saying is, the Lions may be better than their record indicates and could be a dangerous out in the Class 1A playoffs.

Going on a raid

Iroquois West boys’ basketball is getting plenty of attention for its strong play so far this season, but the Raider girls’ basketball team also looks strong. Kristy Arie’s group sits at 13-6 and has won nine of its last 10 games after a 4-5 start. A big matchup with fellow under-the-radar squad Armstrong-Potomac (13-4) looms Thursday.

Tournament time, Part I

The Heart of Illinois Conference boys’ and girls’ tournaments and Lincoln Prairie Conference girls’ tournament all commence Saturday and run through next week. Of note is a potentially fun championship game in the LPC girls’ event, if top-seeded Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond and second-seeded Tri-County can hold serve.

Tournament time, Part II

The Vermilion County boys’ and girls’ tournaments also will kick off Saturday, from David S. Palmer Arena in Danville. The Oakwood boys and Salt Fork girls possess the No. 1 seeds, but the familiarity of these programs with one another makes upsets easy to come by. Girls’ No. 6 seed Georgetown-Ridge Farm is playing some its best basketball in years, and boys’ No. 6 seed Westville actually is above .500 overall.

Colin Likas is the preps coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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