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High School Highlights
They say practice makes perfect, but hitting 15 consecutive free throws – a perfect score when competing to get to the COUNTRY Financial 3-Point Shootout – has never been accomplished, to my understanding. But Heyworth High School junior Colin McCubbins tried, not for perfection, but to try for as many threes in 45 seconds as possible when he competed in this event for Illinois High School Association Class 2A players when the opening round of the event was held at Carver Arena in Peoria Civic Center on Thursday, March 8.
Shooting for 45 minutes a day at Heyworth Grade School has been what effort Colin has put in to get a step closer to competing for the “King of the Hill” title in Class 2A. He’s also put in time shooting after practices, explained his father, Scott, a former HHS player from the late 1980s himself. Scott said his son has been getting individual instruction from Heyworth Junior High School head basketball coach Lyndon Jason. It has been rigorous from the way Scott McCubbins describes how his son has been working on it. Scott’s younger brother, Ryan, also wore a Hornets jersey in the mid-90s.
“He’s a much better shooter than either I or my brother was,” Scott McCubbins confessed. “He’s self-driven – he spends hours in the summer working on his shot, so he’s done a good job working hard for this.”
Colin’s mother, Scott’s wife, Lori McCubbins, admitted to being less nervous at this event than she was watching her son go through Sectionals and then Regionals to get to this point. At Regionals, Colin sank 10-of-15 and at Sectionals, he sank 9-of-15. At Sectionals, it took a shootout to determine a winner. At Sectionals, Scott hit six baskets from the wings to get him here.
The McCubbins clan was well represented as they waited for Colin’s turn to sink as many of 15 shots as possible. In addition to his folks, also on hand in the stands were his sister, Karlie, an HHS freshman; Paternal grandparents Danny and Carole McCubbins; and young cousins Chase McCubbins and Brody Allen. Brody is the son of Danny and Carole’s daughter.
Karlie is a member of HHS’ Volleyball team, and said she and her brother “like to support each other. It’s what we do for each other.”
As Colin completed each of the three stations shooting five basketballs during the prelim, his family was, from my thinking, very quiet. No cheering. Not a sound. Grandmother Carole McCubbins had a simple explanation for her silence. “I couldn’t breathe,” she explained, for those 45 seconds her oldest grandson raced from station to station firing away.
Her husband, Danny, stayed quiet too, as a means of remaining calm. “He didn’t make any mistakes,” Danny said of his grandson’s effort.
The family watched, with Scott taking video while Colin made the first five on the rack from right wing go in when he began and from there, sank others in each of the remaining racks to achieve the final total. Colin said was nice to have family turn out for his opening round at the shootout. There are only a handful of folks who turn out for these events which start around 5p.m. on Thursdays before the semifinals begin on Friday, so Colin said he was happy to have friends coming then, so it should be a bit bigger.”
Colin got to the second round of the Shootout held Friday following the first Class 1A semifinal game of the day between Sterling Newman Central Catholic and Annawan. The other three finalists were: Mitch McNutt from Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley; Marcus Williams from Chicago’s Collins High School; and Billy Samano from Niles High School. When Friday’s competition was over, Colin had emerged on top hitting an astounding 11-of-15, qualifying him for Saturday’s “King Of The Hill” Contest from Class 2A. Samano came in second with 7, followed by Williams’ 6, and 4 from McNutt.
Colin and Class 1A “King Of The Hill” competitor Clinton Richardson representing Norris City-Omaha-Enfield now await their Class 3A and 4A opponents.
At a news conference held Friday for 2A shooters afterward, Colin told reporters, “I can’t put into words what it means to be here.” During this past week leading up the “King Of The Hill” competition, Colin spent it in preparation for the big day, which will take place Saturday at approximately 12:45p.m. following the 3rd place game for Class 3A teams.
Danny McCubbins said his grandson had improving his shooting from the right wing position and the top of the key. Danny’s wife, Carole, said she was shaking and cried “as soon as he made the last basket.” Nancy Lynch, Colin’s maternal grandmother, said her nervousness about the event doesn’t kick in until Colin starts shooting. “I’m just happy for him,” she said.
“All his hard work had paid off,” Lori McCubbins said of her son’s effort. “I knew he could do it.”
Danny McCubbins also observed Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day, intimating not just skill but a little luck, too, might help his grandson this weekend. We will all have to see if he’s right about that.
How Others Finished: Class 2A preliminary scores for these boys on Thursday included: McNutt, GCMS, 11; Williams, Chicago Collins, 10, Samano, Niles, 10; and McCubbins, 10. Dylan Smith, a senior from El Paso Gridley was the only other McLean County participated in Class 2A, who sank 9 shots.
Class 1A participants, their school, and how many shots they made included: Matthew Nunamaker, Ridgeview, 5, and Tyler Grimsley, Lexington, 6.
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Yarbrough, Fayne Named NABC All-District
Illinois State junior Milik Yarbrough has been named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District First Team, while junior Phil Fayne was named to the Second Team.
Yarbrough had previously been named the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Year and had earned a spot on the All-Conference First Team, while Fayne was named to the MVC Second Team. Both earned spots onto the MVC All-Tournament Team.
Yarbrough, a native of Zion, Illinois, averaged 16.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game, and his season totals of 531 points, 210 rebounds, and 152 assists make him one of just three players in the country this season – and one of just 39 since 1992-93 – to record season totals of 500 points, 200 rebounds, and 150 assists in a season.
Fayne, a native of Elk Grove, California, averaged 15.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, while also leading the team with 35 blocked shots and finishing second on the team with 28 blocked shots. Fayne made 181-of-304 shots from the field during the season. He was the only player in the country to average at least 15.5 points per game with 25 blocks and 35 steals, while shooting at least .595 from the field – and just the 36th since 1992-93.
Located in Kansas City, Missouri, the NABC was founded in 1927 by Phog Allen, the legendary basketball coach at the University of Kansas. Allen, a student of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, organized coaches into this collective group to serve as Guardians of the Game. The four core values of being a Guardian of the Game are advocacy, leadership, service and education. Additional information about the NABC, its programs and membership, can be found at www.nabc.com.
Lady Redbirds Fall in MVC Tournament Quarterfinal Battle
Illinois State Women’s Basketball concluded its season Friday, March 9 as they dropped their MVC tournament match to the No. 3 ranked UNI Panthers 56-36.
Megan Talbot opened the game for Illinois State with a layup to take the first lead. The Redbird defense held off the Panthers for nearly three minutes. UNI got on the board with a 3-pointer from Ellie Howell to lead 3-2. The Panthers went on a short run to power ahead 7-2 with 5:07 on the clock in the first. Simone Goods put an end to the ISU scoring drought as she put up two for the ‘Birds to trail 7-4. Viria Livingston was sent to the line and added one more for Illinois State, but the Redbirds would trail 10-5 at the end of the first.
Northern Iowa netted a 3-pointer to open the second quarter and would push ahead 13-5. The Panthers shot 50 percent from 3-point land in the first half, going 5-for-10. The Redbirds faced difficulty overcoming the early deficit and trailed 32-18 at halftime. The ‘Birds were led by Goods and Livingston as they added nine and seven points respectively at the end of the first half.
The Redbirds battled for a comeback in the second half, but could not find a way around the Panthers. Illinois State dropped the quarterfinal battle 56-36.
ISU’s Green, Goods and Saylor Earn All-Conference Honors
Hannah Green, Simone Goods and Paige Saylor were each selected to the 2018 All-Missouri Valley team, the conference announced Wednesday. Green was named to the MVC First Team, Goods earned Honorable Mention and Saylor was selected to the All-Defensive Team and the All-Freshman Team.
Green, a senior from Santa Clarita, California, averages 12.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and leads the Valley averaging 2.0 blocks per game. This season Green has been named as the MVC Player of the Week and was selected to the Long Beach Classic All-Tournament team. Green also made a mark in the Illinois State record books as she rejected 130 shots throughout her career, placing her third all-time in that category.
Goods, a junior from Omaha, Nebraska, leads the team with 13.7 points per game and averages 6.0 rebounds. Goods has been named MVC Newcomer of the Week three times, MVC Player of the Week and was the Long Beach Classic MVP. Goods has scored 20 or more points in six games this season and has had four double-doubles.
Saylor, a freshman from Martinsville, Indiana, averages the most minutes in the Valley with 37.9 per game. The point guard is a force to be reckoned with, as she continuously frustrates her opponents, averaging 2.5 steals per game, which also leads the conference. Saylor is also top 10 in the Valley in assists per game, averaging 2.7.
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Central Catholic Claims 3rd Place In Class 2A With Win Over Pinckneyville, 69-61
by Steve Robinson
The way Bloomington Central Catholic head coach Jason Welch saw his team’s Illinois High School Association Class 2A third place game against Pinckneyville, the Saints wanted to issue a challenge to the Panthers.
But when BCC (25-7) went from leading 7-6 after a free throw by senior forward Patrick Rahuba at 5:14 in the first quarter to owning a 12-6 lead courtesy of another Rahuba charity stripe shot over three minutes later, it looked as though the challenge might have been too great for the Panthers, as the Saints registered a 69-61 victory to come in 3rd place in the Class.
“I’m just extremely proud of these guys,” BCC head coach Jason Welch said during the postgame news conference. “They’ve worked extremely hard and the guys off the bench did a great job. Our kids came out today and we gave Pinckneyville a challenge.” Going into the second quarter, BCC owned a 14-8 lead.
Only a three by senior guard Grant Jausel cutting BCC’s lead, 21-15, at 4:59 in the second quarter, followed by a Jausel jumper that made BCC’s lead, 23-17 seemed the closest the Panthers would come in the first half before BCC would go on a 5-0 run which helped stretch the Saints lead, 28-17, at the 2:52 mark. Fouls by Pinckneyville (31-4) sent senior guard Elijah Davis to the line making the Saints lead, 30-18, on the way to a 35-20 halftime lead.
A layup by senior guard Austyn Ellison, free throws by fouled junior guard Luke Yoder, and a trey from senior forward Jack Gilmore had BCC owning a 42-25 lead at the 4:58 mark in the third quarter. But threes by Jausel and sophomore guard Dawson Yates, plus a deuce from Jausel allowed the Panthers to come within nine, 49-40, with 1:29 left in the quarter. An Ellison trey with 35 seconds left restored BCC’s double-digit lead as the fourth quarter began, 52-40.
But the fourth quarter began with BCC’s lead reduced to seven on an unanswered trey and deuce by senior forward Kyle Luke, giving the Saints a 52-45 lead with 7:28 left. The Panthers came within four, 56-52, thanks free throws and a trey by senior guard J. C. Moll and a jumper by Kyle. The Panthers came within three – their closest margin, 64-61 – on a Jausel layup at the 1:23 mark. But after that, beginning with a pair of free throws by senior guard James Morris, BCC finished the game on a 5-0 run.
Ellison and Gilmore scored 10 points each for BCC. Pinckneyville had four players in double figures led by Moll’s 16 points, followed by 15 from Yates, 14 from Jausel, and 10 from senior forward Tyler Rice.
Welch credited senior leadership from Rahuba, Ellison, Morris, Gilmore, Davis, forward Owen Talbott, and center Garrison Kear for the success his team had throughout the season which led the team getting to State.
“Everybody stepped up defensively,” Ellison said during the postgame news conference.
“It feels amazing to be finishing with a win, but knowing that it’s my last time to play with my brothers, these guys aren’t just my teammates, they’re my best friends,” said Eli Davis. “It feels good that we got to leave a legacy and that we got to finish on top.”
Pinckneyville head coach Bob Waggoner admitted the news conference would be “hard for me” because he would be losing the seniors on the team to graduation. As for the contest, Waggoner said the team’s biggest fear wasn’t losing but rather letting down the small community of just over 5,400 in Perry County in southern Illinois. Because the team is close-knit, off-and-on during the interviews, boys wiped away tears.
Waggoner said BCC “was a lot quicker, their pressure on the ball hurt us early.” He admitted it was tough to prepare for Winnebago in the semifinal Friday, and then turn around to face BCC Saturday because the two teams had decidedly different playing systems.
BCC Loses Semifinal, 60-49, To Chicago Orr: BCC had hoped to stay in front of their semifinal opponent and Class 2A reigning champion, Chicago Orr, when the two met on Friday on Peoria’s big stage. And for nearly two full quarters, the Saints pulled that off. In the first quarter, thanks to a jumper from junior forward Tommy Nelson and a trey from junior guard Luke Yoder, the Saints owned a 9-4 lead at the 5:24 mark in the period. Two free throws by Orr’s Tyronn Mosley followed by a rebound shot by senior guard James Morris kept BCC out front, 11-11-6 with 4:34 left. A trey each from senior forward Jack Gilmore and senior guard Austyn Ellison extended BCC’s lead, 17-11, with 2:55 left in the quarter en route to starting the second quarter with a 19-15 lead.
BCC (25-7 following this game) stayed in front, 26-20, on a trey by Gilmore, and 26-22, but that was followed shortly by a BCC basket by junior forward Tommy Nelson put BCC up, 28-23. That lead prompted a timeout from Orr head coach Louis Adams with 4:38 until halftime. Following the timeout, a trey and two free throws by Orr senior guard Chase Adams helped pull the Spartans within three of BCC, 32-29, giving the Saints reason to call time with 1:24 until the half. But after that, a deuce by Orr senior forward Dannie Smith and a jumper by BCC senior guard Elijah Davis a deuce by senior guard Brian Hernandez put Orr in front for the first time, 34-31 with 38 seconds in the half. But the teams would enter the half tied following a trey by Orr senior guard Brian Hernandez with 8 seconds in the quarter. The teams would enter the third quarter tied at 34-all as a result.
The beginning of the third quarter started out with Smith hitting a jumper to put Orr (29-4 after this game) up, 36-34 and from there, BCC found themselves in chase mode for the remainder of the contest despite a three in that quarter by Ellison, and deuces by senior forward Patrick Rahuba and Morris. As a result, Orr owned a 51-45 lead going into the fourth quarter.
A free throw by Orr senior forward Raekwon Drake nudged Orr’s lead to 52-45 at 6:56 in the last quarter. Free throws by Yoder sliced that lead to five, 52-47 with 4:45 left but a basket and a free throw by Drake pushed the lead to 55-47. Nelson added a deuce to cut the lead to 55-49 before free throws by Smith and Adams, and a dunk by senior guard Emanuel Oneal closed out the contest, advancing the Spartans to the title game.
Orr head coach Adams blamed falling behind BCC in the opening period to his team “not having any sense of direction. We rely on defense pretty heavily. BCC shoots the ball pretty good. For us to come out tied that we were in the second half, we couldn’t get no worse. We could only get better. In the second half, our boys came out and played like they normally do.”
“We played a really great Chicago Orr team. They’re battle-tested,” said BCC head coach Jason Welch. “They did a great job. Our kids did a nice job of resisting for as long as we could. They did a nice job. I was proud of them. We fought our brains out. Ultimately, they’re a really good basketball team and we tip our hat to them and say, ‘congratulations.’”
Despite that loss, Welch said he had a team that showed they were tough. The Saints only were outpaced on rebounds by a 14-11 count. Welch said that stat showed, “we’ve got a bunch of fighters in here. That’s what we’ve got… a bunch of fighters. The guys played their guts out, ultimately gave themselves a chance to win “ He said Orr may have made more shots than BCC, but in Welch’s words, “They didn’t out-tough us.”
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