The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


February 6, 2013

Toppers hold off Wolves

ARMSTRONG —  At times, it might have seemed as though the Schlarman Academy Hilltoppers would never return to their winning ways. The girls’ basketball program has fought through struggling seasons and quick exits in the postseason. But this year, they were determined to flip the trend.

Though they have plenty of goals still in mind, Schlarman Academy made history on Tuesday, advancing to Thursday’s Class 1A Armstrong Regional Championship game with a 41-38 win over top-seeded Cissna Park.

If it seems like the Hilltoppers’ last regional title game appearance is a distant memory, that’s because many of the current players likely don’t remember it happening. After all, it was a decade ago when Schlarman lost a regional championship game to St. Joseph-Ogden, 59-56.

“I’m proud to be a part of that,” Schlarman Academy coach Keith Peoples said. “Schlarman’s come a long way when it comes to wins and losses. It feels good. We’ve still got a long ways to go. I told the girls after the game that this is not the championship. We’ve still got games to go. But I’m very proud of their efforts. Schlarman’s come a long way, and hopefully in the future we can create more wins and make it a habit instead of a surprise.”

The win was their 13th consecutive, and also marked the 20th of the season for the Hilltoppers — also a first for the program since the 2002-2003 season.

But like their more recent history, earning the win over Cissna Park didn’t come without a fight.

Schlarman Academy led 13-4 after the first quarter, but just as Peoples had warned his team, the Timberwolves (16-11) put up a fight that resulted in a 9-0 run, and ultimately a 19-17 halftime lead. There were five ties and five lead changes in the second half, and neither team gained more than a five-point advantage until the Hilltoppers (20-9) took a seven-point lead with three minutes, 35 seconds to go in the game.

The effort and mental focus, according to junior Janelle Marion, came from being tested earlier in the season at the Peoria Manual Holiday Tournament.

“We had played a lot of tough games when we went to the Peoria tournament,” Marion said. “We had Springfield (Southeast) and (Manual), and they are some tough, tough girls. We just knew that since we could play with them, we could play with anybody. Don’t get me wrong, they are a really tough team, but we knew mentally how to take their strength and use it to our benefit.”

Schlarman Academy’s final lead came 1:37 into the fourth quarter on a basket by Marion. She had just tied the game at 31-31 and was fouled. Though she missed the free throw, freshman Shelby Mascari grabbed the rebound and dished it back to Marion for the score.

Marion finished the contest with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds while Hilltoppers freshman Sierra Bell led all scorers with 16, in addition to three assists and four steals.

Schlarman Academy senior Ella Black finished with three steals with perhaps the biggest theft of her career coming with 13 seconds to go in the fourth quarter.

The Hilltoppers held a 40-38 lead, and the Timberwolves were inbounding the ball underneath their own basket coming out of a time out. At Peoples’ direction, the Hilltoppers packed the paint to avoid allowing one of Cissna Park’s post players the opportunity for an easy game-tying shot. That left the Timberwolves with few options, and Black was able to tip the pass and secure the steal.

“I thought I had to make up for that last turnover I had,” Black said. “I just went out there and tried my best to get the ball back. I just decided to go for it and gamble.

“It’s our last year, Sydne (Bryant) and Holly (Huckstadt) and Hadeel (Samawi) and I, so we have a lot of emotions,” she continued. “We want to keep this going. We just all had to step up. I didn’t want this to be my last game.”

Huckstadt had six points on two three-pointers in the first quarter during Schlarman Academy’s first-quarter run. Black scored three, and Bryant had two.

Sophomore Alexis Knake led Cissna Park with 14 points, freshman Addison Stoller had nine and 13 rebounds, and Madison Overbey finished with 12 points and 10 boards.

Schlarman Academy will take on regional host Armstrong-Potomac on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The two teams split the season series with Armstrong-Potomac defeating Schlarman Academy 55-44 on December 11, and the Hilltoppers coming out on top 59-28 on January 21. The Hilltoppers have not won a regional title since the 1997-1998 season.

“It’s huge,” Black said. “We want to get some 13s up on our banner. We’re just working as hard as we can.”

Text Only
  • SPT - CN0730 - Dans baseball photo 1 Dans continue to struggle DANVILLE — The Danville Dans haven’t exactly been playing their best baseball in the second half of the season. After taking the West Division title in the first half with a 19-11 record, Danville has played sub-.500 baseball in the second half and c

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0730 - Illini football media photo Experienced Illini looking for success CHICAGO — Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Tim Beckman is hoping that the third time is the charm.Beckman begins his third season at the helm of the Illini, and with the nucleus of last season’s team returning, it may finally be time for Illinois

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - CN0730 - Purdue football media photo Hazell hopes for smooth second season CHICAGO — After a season to forget in 2013, Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell is expecting better results as his team begins training camp next week. Hazell spoke to the media during the 2014 Big Ten Football Media Days at the Hilton Chicago, and afte

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Calendar TODAYProspect League BaseballHannibal Cavemen at Danville Dans, 6:30 p.m.THURSDAYProspect League BaseballWest Virginia Miners at Danville Dans, 6:30 p.m.Local TennisMcTagertt Tennis Tournament at North Montgomery, 3:30 p.m.FRIDAYLocal TennisMcTagertt

    July 30, 2014

  • SPT - CN0729 - Dustbowl photo 2 Repeat performance Championship Sunday was in full swing at the 42nd Annual Dustbowl at David S. Palmer Arena. In the men’s division it was defending champions Leek & Sons against the Hickory Beavers. Leek & Sons made it back to back championships with a 29-point victo

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0729 - Brickyard photo Gordon kisses 'The Bricks' for 5th time INDIANAPOLIS — The common gift for a 20th anniversary is either china or platinum.But for Jeff Gordon on Sunday, he was more interested in the PPG Trophy made of gold, sterling silver and alloy aluminum and the native of Pittsboro, Ind., wasn’t going

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Old friends meet again in city tourney DANVILLE — Gene Gourley and Bryan Stine have a lot of history on the tennis court. The two of them, who have been playing each other at the Danville Tennis Center for over 20 years, renewed their rivalry again on Sunday during the Greater Danville Ar

    July 29, 2014

  • SPT - CN0729 - Junior Dustbowl photo Free throws decide junior Dustbowl title DANVILLE — In the boys’s Division it was DV Stars vs. Squad for the Championship with the Squad coming back from an early 16-point deficit to beat DV Stars 59-55 in overtime. Squads Parker Lee made one of two free throws with 18 seconds left in regul

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Keys leads College Girls to Dustbowl title The girls division championship between County Girls and College Girls was a close battle between two fine teams. The College Girls never trailed in the second half and squeaked out a victory over the County Girls 32-29.After a timeout was called by

    July 29, 2014

  • SPT - CN0729 - Big Ten Media mug Big Ten unveils new look CHICAGO — Welcome to the new look Big Ten.The Big Ten Conference held its 43rd annual Football Media Days on Monday at the Hilton Chicago and in the first day of the two day event, a lot of different topics were discussed, and a few more concepts fo

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

NJCAA Tourney Photos 2014

Check out the action at the NJCAA Division II National Men's Basketball Tournament March 18-22 at DACC. Buy photos from the Commercial-News here:

Must Read
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'