Another Confusing Cody Column
Area Losing Streak Sits
at Nine
Seneca's 2006 Class A Championship game win over IVC
was the last area win on the Carver Arena Floor ...
PEORIA - The expansion to four classes in basketball in 2008 was supposed to
held more schools get the opportunity to experience the State Tournament.

This year's Class 1A field has three teams that had never made it to the big dance.
Eastland was competing for the first time. So was the team they lost to in the
semifinal, eventual champion Salt Fork. Sesser-Valier was also there for the first
time. That leaves Madison – who won Class A titles in 1977 and 1981 – as the only
1A team that has State experience.

So the IHSA's little experiment is working.

That's not a good thing for teams in this area.

Northern Illinois teams have lost their last nine games at Carver Arena. Eastland
lost both games this year, also falling to Madison on Saturday. Annawan (1A) and
Winnebago (2A) lost all of their games last year. With no teams making it in 2008,
the preceding year saw West Carroll and Putnam County (both Class A) and
Boylan (AA) lose its first games.

The only State Title Game pitting area teams – that between 2006 Class A
champion Seneca and IVC – was the last time an area team won at Carver.

What gives?

Prior to 2007, Northern Illinois teams made it to the Class A title game in seven of
the past 10 years. The three other years were Bureau Valley's three-peat third
place teams. In fact, in each year from 1991 to 2006, at least one area team made
it to State AND won their opening game to guarantee a trophy.

Needless to say, class expansion has hurt this area. Expansion made it so that our
teams were able to see teams that were not previously familiar to Northern Illinois.
In the first year of class expansion, St. Anne, Peoria Manual and Washington made
long trips to Northern Illinois University's Convocation Center for a Supersectional.
Eastland, West Carroll and Sterling were embarassed at the start of their games.
The three area teams were outscored 57-12 in the first quarter.

With Boylan, DeKalb and Rock Island's sectional final losses on Friday night, no
area large school team will win a sectional championship. This particular non-
accomplishment is the first such occurrence since the number of sectional
championships throughout Illinois increased from eight to 16 way back in 1934.

What gives?

This area is in between the financially powerful Chicago suburbs and the rural,
small-town feel in central Illinois. Not to mention our area teams are in a crowd
disadvantage against the central teams around Peoria.

Northern Illinois has a little of both worlds. The two don't seem to gel together when
competing against one of the other.

Suburban teams (Bartlett, Elgin, Oswego) are capable of making development
possibilities happen, mostly because of money. The Peoria teams (Manual,
Richwoods, Washington) have more basketball programs and opportunities
available to them because of being the headquarters for prep basketball.

The southern teams are not all that big. Most teams that make it have a lot of
people that hone their athletic skill on the family farm. That, and southern schools
have more of an ability to gel together into an unbreakable bond.

Economy can be the factor in differing north from south. The north's economy is
stronger, and leads to more people moving within the area. Economy in the south
is not that strong. Families are more likely to stay in the same town for decades. It
creates a long-time bond between teammates that begin on the grade school
playground. They may know each other moreso than the northern teams know one

Until northern Illinois teams find a way to break the Carver streak and win some
games, they will always enter the State Tournament and the Supersectional as

If you can't beat them, be like them.

*Five more signatures were added to my copy of “100 Years of Madness” at the
State Tournament this weekend. The number of signatures increased to 36.

Cliff Cameron, coach of Pleasant Plains' 2000 and 2002 Class A State
Championship teams, put his signature next to his picture on the list of 100
Legends. Cameron was doing IHSA television broadcasting with Lee Hall.

Gary London, coach of Hales Franciscan's 2003 Class A State Championship
team, put his signature one inch from his infamous quote regarding the recruiting
of Nate Minnoy (it was probably a coincidence – the signature, I mean). Hales took
third place in this year's Class 2A tournament.

Breese Central coach Stan Eagleson put his signature next to a quotation of his in
the book. The quote is about how Central made it to the State Tournament, but
lost every game, feeling like to Buffalo Bills. Central lost both of their State games
this year.  

I completed the set of author signatures by getting Jeff Lampe and Bob Leavitt to
sign. I already had Scott Johnson, Curt Herron and Pat Heston.

Lampe talked to me at times during the tournament, sharing our recent
experiences at the tournaments. Leavitt asked who I was.

“Cody Cutter,” I said.

“So you're the one!”

“The one?”

“The one who bought the book!”

As if I was the only one who bought it?

I missed out on getting Tony Dunlap's signature in the book because I was busy
writing the articles of Eastland's games. Dunlap was an assistant coach for
Pittsfield in their 1991 Class A championship.

Three signatures were added earlier in the season. Thom Sigel, former Rock Falls
coach and current Rock Island coach, signed the book. Two of his assistants, Dan
Coyne-Logan and Jorge Acosta, also signed. Coyne-Logan played for Alleman in
the mid 1990s and Acosta was on Sigel's 1999 championship team.

*Northern Illinois Sports Beat contributor Rick Nausner and I came up with our
Class 1A and Class 2A All-Tournament team. Our ballot was submitted as part of a
newspaper's selection.

Class 1A: Delandus Farrar (Madison), Justin Matyi (Sesser-Valier), Kendall Gibson
(S-V), Joel Learnard (Salt Fork) and Brad Dunlap (Eastland).

Class 2A: Meyers Leonard (Robinson), Patrick Miller (Hales), Ben Jones
(Robinson), Lawrence Alexander (Manual) and David Wiegmann (Breese).

Cody Cutter is the Publisher of Northern Illinois Sports Beat, and writes columns
about Illinois high school sports. He can be reached at --- Talk about what's written on our
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Northern Illinois Sports Beat                                                                       
LEFT: Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn
congratulates Hales Franciscan assistant
coach Ronale Johnson during the Class 2A
Third Place Awards Ceremony on Saturday
night. Quinn presented awards during both
Class 2A ceremonies.
                                  Photo by Cody Cutter
RIGHT: Robinson 7'0" center Meyers
Leonard goes for a block against a shot from
Manual's Lawrence Alexander in the Class
2A championship game. The University of
Illinois recruit led Robinson to the 2A State
                                  Photo by Cody Cutter
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