Subfreshman sports: Boys basketball team ready to play for regional championship
Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - 6:14pm
URBANA — First it was the subfreshman girls who made history this year on the basketball court. Now it's the boys' turn.
On Nov. 26, the girls basketball team won an Illinois Elementary School Association regional playoff game, defeating Judah Christian 27-20. It was the first time a subbie girls team had won a regional contest.
On Thursday, the boys will play St. Matthew for the Class 8-2A Regional 4 title. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at St. Matthew, 1307 Lincolnshire Drive, Champaign. (Click here for directions.)
If the boys win, they will be the first regional champs in subbie basketball history. Under head coach Rick Murphy, the 1998-99 team won Uni's first IESA regional game, and the 2001-02 team (which featured Al Renner, Uni's future career-scoring leader), made it to the regional finals.
- When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31
- Where: St. Matthew School, 1307 Lincolnshire Drive, Champaign
- What: IESA Class 8-2A Regional 4 boys basketball championship game
- Why go: After Senior Night at Kenney Gym, show some more spirit as the boys try to become the first regional champs in subbie hoops history.
Uni entered this year's seven-team regional bracket seeded fifth. In the Illineks' first game, they faced No. 4 Judah Christian and defeated the Tribe 51-48.
In the semifinal game, Uni had an even greater challenge: to beat the No. 1 seed, Chrisman Scottland. Murphy's players met the challenge in convincing fashion, leading almost the entire way and winning by double digits in overtime, 49-38.
"We knew they'd be tough," Murphy said of Chrisman Scottland. "I'd seen them play once, and they had a really good point guard. But we kept him from getting a whole heck of a lot of points. He still played well. …
"They tied the game at the buzzer with a 3-pointer on a long one off the backboard, but then in the overtime we were in the double bonus and they had to foul us a lot after we got the lead, so we beat them by 11 points."
"It ties for the farthest we've ever gotten," Murphy said. "When Al Renner's team were subfreshmen they played in the finals as well in Ogden several years ago. So this is as far as we've gone, and I'm thrilled the guys waited until the last part of the season to peak, and I've been real excited and happy with their effort. They've been playing very hard."
Murphy said he was especially pleased that his players have focused on working as a team.
"We obviously have some students who get more points than others and score a lot, but one of the things I try to stress is that they play as a team because we need a whole team to win the game," he said. "Overall we're a little bit over .500 combined for the season, but we play a lot of schools that have played together since fourth grade, and our kids … maybe a couple have been to this junior high and a couple to this junior high and this grade school, but it takes awhile to get us working as a unit. And this year, I'm very pleased with the way they've come together."
Class 8-2A is divided into 16 regional brackets. If Uni wins the title on Thursday, the team will advance to sectionals and face the winner of Regional 3 — either Donovan or Hopkins Park Lorenzo Smith. The sectional would be played at St. Matthew.
"I told them about tomorrow night, there's no pressure," Murphy said. "We weren't expected to be in the game so we should just go and play hard and then see what happens."