DaflyHerald Byfax dallyherald.com MAE 10 SECTIONS DAILY HERALD SUNDAY, MARCH 9, Local Soorte More prep pictures ; : '•£ M% • 't'v You'll find more high school ,:%i sports photographs available when you log on to our Web: • '•'•*?• UEC can stand proud with Elgin, Neuqw in supers When boys basketball "experts" around the state start talking about the best conferences, rarely is the Upstate Eight a part of that discusson. Until now. With three UEC teams making the final 16 in Class 4A, and two of them winning sectional championships, the UEC has two teams in the state's final eight — Elgin and Neuqua Valley — for the first time since Elgin and West Aurora met each other in the 1973 Class AA quarterfinals in Champaign. "We should have a lot of pride in our conference, with three teams in the final 16 tonight," said Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith, whose team lost to Neuqua Friday in the East Aurora sectional final. The UEC has always impressed me as a conference John Radtke that stands by its own in the postseason and that was evident Friday night after Bartlett's loss to Neuqua. While trying to listen to reporter's questions, Wolfsmith also kept an eye on me as I attempted to get the Elgin final. When I gave Wolf- smith the thumbs up that Elgin had won, he let out a resounding "Yes!" while pumping his fist in the air. And this was a guy whose team has just lost. "I think the Upstate Eight is on an upswing," he said Proof of that is in the final eight pudding. While UEC champion Neuqua Valley was only a sixth Tickets on uto Monday •Tickets for Tuesday's Class 4A supersectlonal game between Elgin and Zion-BentonatttieNIU Convocation Center will be on sale in the treasurer's office at Elgin High School from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday. Tickets are $8 each and game time is 8 p.m. seed in the East Aurora field, you had to figure the Wildcats would make a run for .the title and they did. But Elgin? This is a team that was 6-7 after Christmas tournaments and was searching for ways to win. "I thought we could win the regional and anything after that would be a bonus," GEORGE LECI.AIRF./glcclairofn)cliiilylicr;iUI.(()iii The Elgin basketball team celebrates with Its fans after beating Rockford Boylan for the Class 4A Jacobs sectional title Friday. said first-year Maroons coach Mike Sitter Saturday, less than 24 hours after his team had stunned perennial power Rockford Boylan 70-67 _. , . , .GEORGE I.ECLAIREemail@example.com Elgin senior Armani Williams cuts down the net Friday night after the Maroons' 70-67 win over Rockford Boylan for the C lass 4A Jacobs sectional title. /a to win the Jacobs sectional and advance to Tuesday night's NIU supersectional against 30-3 Zion Benton. "This has been so enjoyable. We've come a long way since Christmas and it's nice to see. The kids have worked hard" So has Sitter and his staff, including varsity assistants Jeff Howard and Quintin Howard. Sitter took over this team just six days before the season opener after the unfortunate removal of Rob Brault, and it's been a whirlwind for the EHS grad ever since. "There's really no time off," he said. "I told my wife I'd introduce myself to our kids after the season. "The coaching is the easy part. Those two hours we're in the gym practicing ... that's the easy part. But Armani (Williams) and Jeremy (Granger) are going to play college ball so you deal with the recruiters. And there's the scouting... italltakesalotoftime." Not that Sitter is complaining. He, like Wolfsmith at Bartlett, is technically an interim coach but the assumption is he, like Wolf- smith, would like to keep the job beyond one season. But that's a question for another day. For now, Sitter is readying his troops to play a 303 team that will be at least mildly favored to win Tuesday's game. But that's OK with Sitter and the Maroons too. They've been an underdog since the regional title game, so don't think that's going to bother them come Tuesday. .; This is not 1998, let's remember. That Elgin group was expected to make it to the final eight and it did. But while; we've all known for a few years this Elgin group has talent, no one in their right mind would have suspected this kind of run back at Christmastime. ,. But that's what's so great about March Madness. Teams t pop up out of nowhere and ' spark their communities. And Elgin is the latest in a long line of feel-good stories that makes high school sports what it is. < Think Elgin's the only success story at NIU Tuesday night? Not a chance. In fact; ad programs go, the Maroons are the seasoned veterans of the four-team field mat includes! Sterling vs. Washington in the 6 p.m. Class 3A supersectional. Consider this via e-mail from Elgin High grad arict IHSA assistant executive director Scott Johnson: ;; >'; t ? Washington's last appear^ ance in the state finals 1962; Sterling's in 1950. Zibff- Benton has never played in. a state final tournament. ; : 1 And if Elgin has it's way, the ZeeBees won't this year either. firstname.lastname@example.org Bandits officially claim Elgin as their new home BY JOHN RADTKE jradtlte®diulyhenihl,ntm The snow may have been swirling outside but the talk of professional softball was hot and heavy in Elgin Saturday. The Chicago Bandits officially opened their corporate office and retail store at 72 S. Grove, on the south end of downtown, and the turnout of locals was brisk. The Bandits, who have been playing their games at Benedictine University in Lisle, will play the next three seasons at Judson University, with the expectation of a stadium to be built by the city of Elgin on the property of the former Spartan Meadows Golf Course. Bandits officials are confident Judson's facility will be ready to go despite the lateness of winter and the amount of snow still on the ground. "I was down there last night and it looks fine," said Bandits vice president Bill Sokolis. "We should get going on things the Softball last week of March and then we have two full months. There's really not a lot that's going to take a lot of time other than digging the bleachers in on the first-base side. The city of Elgin has committed $350,000 to Judson to upgrade the softball facility. Improvements will include a new infield, 2,000 seats worth of bleachers, a Scoreboard and a press box, and new dugouts. Sokolis, who owns a construction company, had said he was going to build the dugouts off site and have them brought in with a crane but he's now decided to build them on site. Replacing the infield, he said, is only a 3-4 day project and he's in the process of contacting the company that recently redid Northwestern's field to do the job. The original intent to move back the center field fence, Sokolis said, will be put on hold until 2009. "The lights are really close to being perfect right now," he said. "But we'll wait until next year to extend the fence." Sokolis also said Saturday the team has purchased air time from WRMN-AM radio in Elgin to broadcast all 28 home games live. Jeff Meyers and Kyle Bault will be the team's radio announcers. "This is the first time we have been made to feel comfy enough to partner up with a radio station," Sokolis said. "WRMN has assured us ifs a step in the right direction and we're excited about the partnership and the opportunity it will bring. "I like Jeff Meyers and I think his presence is good. He and Kyle will be the voice of the Bandits." Bandits owner Bill Conroy said Saturday he's scheduled a Meet the Bandits day at On the Cue on Elgin's far west side for Memorial Day from 2-5 p.m. The Bandits, who play in the six-team National Pro Fast- Chicago Bandits public relations director Sarah Russell, above left, goes over some merchandise Saturday with Judson University assistant softball coach Natalie Smith during the Bandits' open house at their new office and retail store in downtown Elgin. pitch league, open the season May 29 at Rockford. The home season will begin Friday, June 6 with the first in a four-game series against Akron. GEORGE LECUAlRE/glecluireC'!- daily lu'i aid.emu North tops Peoria Manual for 2A PEORIA — Top-ranked Chicago North Lawndale cruised to a 56-42 victory over perennial powerhouse Peoria Manual on Saturday night to win the Class 2A boys basketball championship at Carver Arena. St. Anne defeated Nokomis 67-61 earlier Saturday to win the Class 1A championship. Olney East Richland took fhird ii\2A, while Warrens- Boys basketball burg-Latham won the consolation trophy in 1 A. The Chicago-Peoria game lived up to its billing as a battle between the top-ranked Phoenix of North Lawndale (30-4) and the second-ranked Rams of Manual (25-8) — at least at first. In the end, North Lawndale showed it was more athletic and quicker than Manual, which looked sluggish on offense the second half. The Rams only shot 30 percent from the field, compared to 54 percent for North Lawndale, which took second in last year's Class A tournament. North Lawndale sophomore center Paul Bunch stood out among a host of youngsters playing for North Lawndale, which only starts one senior. Bunch, who averages just over 8 points, scored 14 points in the first half and dominated the paint throughout the game. He ended the evening with 18 points and 11 rebounds, both team highs. "I bumped into Paul before the game," said North Lawndale coach Lewis Thorpe. "I told him that if he played well, we'd walk out of here with a championship. Well, he got this look on his face and he kept saying 'I got you coach. I got you coach.'" Manual coach Derrick Booth gave a lot of credit to his counterpart. "They are a well-coached, quality ballclub. They just scrapped and ground it out," he said. "I give them all the credit in the world. They have a superb coach up there." Manual was led by Paris Gulleys 14 points. Olney East Richland took third place in 2A action;! defeating Pinckneyville 55-46 Olney (31-4) was led by all* state guard Kyle Cassity and forward Hayden Hicks, both with 10 points. Pinckneyvuje (28-6) was paced by senioJl center Keane Thomann witti This is the first year thfjj IHSA has split the tournament; into four tiers. The 3A and 4A"
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