PAXTON, Ill. - PBL is looking to get back on track this fall. The Panthers won their first four games last year, just one win away from qualifying for the playoffs, but they went on to lose their final five games of the season. That bitter end to 2013 is motivating this year's 15 seniors to make PBL's first playoff appearance since 2006.
Here's a video to get you hyped for the new season!
Update: 10:05 pm, 8/13/14, Wednesday ATWOOD -- Atwood-Hammond High School is coming down, but one graduate tried making a last ditch effort to save part of it.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Jimmy Fitzgerald's future is set. The Centennial senior is headed to Illinois to play football next year. But before he goes, the three-star quarterback has some unfinished business with the Chargers - a winning season and a trip to the playoffs are his only focus for now. "Having six wins in the last two seasons is fuel to the fire," Fitzgerald said. "It just makes me want to work that much harder to get to the playoffs."
CERRO GORDO, Ill. - The CGB Broncos have big shoes to fill this season. They lost their starting quarterback and running backs Steve Isbell and Dee Woods, who combined to run for more than 3,000 yards. "We want to show people that we still know what we're doing around here," said head coach Andy Kerley. "We've had probably 80 percent of our kids throughout the summer. I think that's kind of become our identity is that we want to show people that we still know how to play football around here."
MONTICELLO, Ill. - Monticello head coach Cully Welter was just trying to have a little fun on a rare off-day last week. He took his family to a White Sox game, and during batting practice a ball was coming right at him. "A guy came from behind me, and he hit my hand," Welter said. "And as he hit my hand, the ball smacked me right [on the finger.]"
WCIA 3's Aaron Bennett talked with Westville head football coach Guy Goodlove at our town Westville.
PAXTON, Ill. - The Okaw Valley Conference has officially extended an invitation to PBL, in hopes the Panthers will join the league starting with the 2016-17 school year. The OVC is in search of a new member after Maroa-Forsyth announced it will leave for the Sangamo beginning in 2016.
DECATUR, Ill. - One of the top basketball recruits in central Illinois is switching schools. St. Teresa shooting guard Christian Williams will enroll at Lanphier High School in Springfield this fall, and he will play his senior season for the Lions. Lanphier coach Blake Turner confirmed the move to WCIA 3. Williams is one of the top prospects in the state for the Class of 2015. He already holds offers from Bradley, Illinois State, Northern Illinois and Green Bay. He averaged more than 18 points and 8 rebounds a game last season, and he will join a Lanphier team that spent most of last season ranked No. 1 in the state.
ST. JOSEPH, Ill. - St. Joseph-Ogden's Cole Berry has always been ahead of the game. He is only 16 years old, but he will be a senior this fall. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten explains why now his baseball talent is making everyone stop and take notice.
Highlights from Round 1 in Savoy
NATIONAL -- High school students are no longer required to take the ACT exam.
Former Illinois basketball player Brett Melton has spent the last few days giving back to his hometown. Melton was a standout player at Mahomet-Seymour in the late 90's. Bad ankles forced him to transfer after just two seasons with the Illini, but as our Bret Beherns shows us, Melton still bleeds orange and blue.
Champaign school district officials have settled on a site for the new Central High School, and it's the one Athletic Director John Woods has wanted all along. Superintendent Judy Weigand said Thursday they will pursue the interstate drive site, eliminating Spalding Park and Dodds Park from consideration. Interstate drive will have the most space for athletic facilities and future growth. Right now, most central athletic sites are off-campus and some are even shared with other schools. "Allowing them the opportunity to stay on campus and do their thing is so important. The time that they lose traveling to all of our off-campus sites is time away from their family, time away from after school help, time away from homework, and it's just time lost. Now it's going be really neat to be able to provide those opportunities - an all-inclusive campus for all of our kids and the community", said Woods. The district has already purchased the land needed on interstate drive. The board will now decide whether to put a referendum on the November ballot.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Central grad Kam Rowan is continuing the tradition of Champaign-Urbana stars playing Division-I basketball, and he is staying in-state to do it. Rowan announced Friday he will continue his basketball career at Western Illinois University in Macomb. Rowan averaged nearly 11 points and 3 assists per game for the Maroons, who made it all the way to the sectional final. He should be able to compete for some early playing time for a Western Illinois team that finished 10-20 last year.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Central High School will have a new girls basketball coach this year, and Aaron Ratka held his first open gym Friday night to meet some of his new players for the first time. Ratka is a former Division-III player, who spent last season as an assistant coach for the Judah Christian girls. He says his goals for this season will develop as the team gets together, but he had one clear message for the girls Friday.
ST. JOSEPH, Ill. - St. Joseph-Ogden grad Hunter Hart did not reach an agreement with the Baltimore Orioles, so instead he will pitch for Kaskaskia Community College next year. Hart was drafted by the Orioles in the 37th round last month, and he had until 4:00 pm Friday to sign. Hart had originally signed with Indiana, but now by attending Kaskaskia he can re-enter the draft next year.
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - IHSA leaders feel like they are being unfairly singled out while they await word on if - and when - they will be called in for another hearing as state leaders investigate their transparency and financial accountability. They were scheduled for a hearing in Chicago last week, but it was canceled and has not been rescheduled. At the first hearing in Springfield the IHSA was not given sufficient time to call any of the witnesses they had arranged and were told they would not be allowed to call any witnesses at a second hearing. IHSA assistant executive director Kurt Gibson sat down with WCIA 3 to talk about it, and he says the state isn't treating his organization fairly.
GEORGETOWN, Ill. - To some people it's just a bucket of coal - but to football fans in Our Town Georgetown it means much more than that. And the tradition goes back long before any of the current players were born. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns took a trip to Georgetown for a history lesson in one of the best rivalries Central Illinois.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - South Carolina is the latest school to offers St. Thomas More star Tori McCoy. The Gamecocks offered McCoy on Wednesday. ESPN ranks McCoy as the No. 5 recruit nationally in the 2016 class. The junior-to-be holds more than a dozen offers including Illinois, Michigan State and Ohio State.
MAROA, Ill. - Okaw Valley leaders woke up Tuesday morning with some work to do. We first told you last night Maroa-Forsyth has voted to leave the Okaw and join the Sangamo Conference starting in 2016. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten has more on what it all means, and why Okaw leaders are now desperate to find a replacement.
MAROA, Ill. - Maroa-Forsyth is leaving the Okaw Valley Conference and will join the Sangamo Conference starting in the 2016-2017 school year. The school board voted Monday night to accept the Sangamo's invitation. The Trojans were one of just six schools set to compete in the new Okaw Valley. Maroa will now be in the Okaw for just two more seasons before heading to the Sangamo. Trojans' athletic director Josh Jostes told WCIA 3 that a "nomination to decline the Sangamo's invite" failed by a 3-4 vote before the board later voted overwhelmingly to accept the Sangamo invite. Jostes says the Sangamo will be a good fit from an enrollment standpoint, but says it will be "bittersweet" leaving the Okaw.
WCIA 3's Bret Beherns talks with IHSA Associate Executive Director Kurt Gibson as Champaign-Urbana prepares a bid to bring the IHSA State Basketball Tournament back to State Farm Center.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - As district administrators try to pick the best location for Central's new high school, Central athletic director John Woods knows exactly which one he prefers. Woods says the Interstate site will be far better than the Spalding Park site when it comes to the future of the school and its extracurricular activities.
Monticello quarterback Brandon Wildman is working hard during the off-season to help the Sages in the fall. He's been competing at camps and is catching the eye of college coaches.
WINDSOR -- Four students remember great times at Windsor High School.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - If Champaign-Urbana wants to bring the IHSA state basketball tournament back to State Farm Center, it won't be easy. And it will have to be a joint effort between the local tourism departments, business leaders and most importantly the University of Illinois. The three entities will form a committee later this summer to consider bidding on both the boys and girls state finals. They will bid on at least one.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The City of Champaign and the University of Illinois will work together to bring the IHSA state basketball tournament back to Champaign. The IHSA opened up the bidding Monday for the tournaments beginning with the 2015-16 season and running through the 2019-20 season. Jayne DeLuce, President and CEO of Visit Champaign County, says they're considering bidding on both the boys and girls tournaments, but will definitely bid on at least one. The U of I hosted the boys state tournament for 77 years before losing it to Peoria after the 1995 season. It has been in Peoria ever since.
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - The IHSA announced Monday it will delay the implementation of the new multiplier waiver and success factor until the 2015-2016 school year. The move was made at the IHSA Board of Directors' regularly scheduled meeting Monday in Bloomington. The success factor, aka "The Bump," would bump non-boundaried schools up a class beyond their multiplier if they have won two state trophies in a four-year period. The "success factor" would have send the St. Thomas More girls basketball team up to Class 3A. Instead they will now stay in 2A next season.
Maroa-Forsyth High School is discussing an option to move from the Okaw Valley Conference to the Sangamo.
ST. JOSEPH, Ill. - Alexandria Boaz was one of the senior leaders for an SJO softball team that won yet another conference championship this season, but Monday she took center stage on national television - and it had nothing to do with softball. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten has more as competed for a big pay day.
St. Joseph-Ogden pitcher Hunter Hart was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 37th round Saturday. He also has a scholarship offer to play baseball in college at Indiana. The Orioles are waiting for him to recover from a knee injury before making him an offer. They'll likely watch him pitch again in about five weeks. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten talked with Hart about the draft, his injury and the decision he'll have to make: go pro, or go to college.
St. Joseph-Ogden senior pitcher Hunter Hart was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 37th round of the MLB first year player draft Saturday. Illinois senior relief pitcher Ronnie Muck was picked up by the Los Angeles Angels in the 30th round.
The Argenta-Oreana baseball team beat New Athens 7-1 Saturday afternoon to win the third place trophy at the Class 1A state baseball tournament at Dozer Park in Peoria.
The Monticello softball team finished its best season in school history Saturday afternoon, beating Beecher 6-1 to win the third place trophy at EastSide Centre in East Peoria.
Altamont capped its best season in school history winning the Class 1A state softball title Saturday, beating Trico 2-1 at EastSide Centre in East Peoria.
The Mattoon softball team fell just short in the Class 3A Lincoln sectional final Saturday morning, losing to Glenwood 2-1.
PEORIA, Ill. - Freeburg scores two unearned runs in the first inning capitalizing on two Pleasant Plains errors, but Cardinals overcame those early jitters to beat Freeburg 5-2 in the Class 2A state baseball semifinals at Dozer Park in Peoria. Mitch Koehler's defense let him down early, but he was resilient on the hill throwing a complete game for the victory. Plains (30-11) will take on Byron (35-5) in the state title game Saturday at 5:30 pm.
EAST PEORIA, Ill. - Teutopolis found itself running out of outs, trailing Beecher 5-3 when Allison Apke stepped to the plate in the fifth inning and sent a three-run blast over the wall in left center. The home run capped the Shoes rally that saw them come back from four-run deficit to win 6-5. The victory sends the Wooden Shoes to their first ever state softball title game. Kadi Borries pitched through some early trouble, scattering 11 hits over seven strong innings. Teutopolis (28-3) will play Rock Island (Alleman) (31-6) in the Class 2A state championship game Saturday at 5:30 pm.
PEORIA, Ill. - All season long Argenta-Oreana has relied on great pitching to lead them to victory. That was no different Friday in the Bombers' state semifinal game against Crete (Illinois Lutheran), but unfortunately on this day, the Chargers' pitching was just a little bit better. Gage Eller was outstanding, striking out eight over six innings, but a fifth inning RBI double by Dylan Gould was all Illinois Lutheran would need as they shut out A-O 1-0 to advance to the state title game. The Bombers (23-6) will face New Athens (19-8) in the third place game Saturday at 9:00 am.
EAST PEORIA - All postseason long it has been Monticello picking up clutch hits late in games, but Friday afternoon Rock Island (Alleman) flipped the script on the Sages. With Monticello leading 4-2 in the fifth inning, Alleman's Mackenzie Sanchez took a Chrissy Gadbury pitch over the left center field wall to give the Pioneers a lead they wouldn't relinquish. An Allie Hislope solo home run in the top half of the seventh was too little too late as the Sages lost 7-5 in the Class 2A state semifinals. Gadbury struggled in the circle, allowing 7 earned runs, but she tried to make up for it driving in four of Monticello's five runs. Monticello (30-5) will face Beecher (33-8) in the third place game Saturday at 3:00 pm.
EAST PEORIA - Deidre Ledbetter struck out 15 batters over seven innings to pace Altamont to a 3-1 win over Sciota (West Prairie) in the Class 1A state softball semifinals Friday at the EastSide Centre in East Peoria. Ledbetter (25-3) allowed only five hits to lead the Lady Indians to their first ever state championship game. Altamont raced out to a 2-0 lead after two innings thanks to back-to-back home runs by Lauren Ohnesorge and Lauren White. The Lady Indians added another run in the third when Ledbetter drove in Madison Ohnesorge on a double to left field. Ledbetter took care of the rest in the circle. Altamont (28-4) will face Campbell Hill (Trico) (33-3) in the state championship game Saturday at 12:30 pm
ARGENTA, Ill. - The Argenta-Oreana baseball team left for Peoria Thursday afternoon, where the Bombers will play Illinois Lutheran in the Class 1A state semifinals Friday at 12:00 pm. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns has more on A-O and two of the biggest reasons they're one of the top teams in the state.
BASEBALL SHG 2 Central 0 (F) U-High 7 Mt. Zion 5 (F)
MONTICELLO, Ill. - To have a chance to win a state title, you need to be a complete team. But even the best teams need one player to take it upon him or herself to make the big plays when needed. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten introduces us to Monticello senior Chrissy Gadbury, who has been answering that call this postseason.
SOFTBALL Teutopolis 2 Carterville 1 (F) Mattoon 18 Mahomet-Seymour 4 (F/6)
MORTON, Ill. - Kassidy Sheedy scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime to lead the Glenwood girls soccer team back to state with a 2-1 win over Peoria Notre Dame in the Morton supersectional.
The Argenta-Oreana baseball team is state-bound. The Bombers are back at the state tournament for the first time since 2007, but they haven't won a state trophy since 1989.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Before last weekend it had been more than 20 years since the Central Maroons had won a baseball regional. Now that that is in the past, they're shifting their sights to their first sectional crown since 1968. Central spent Tuesday afternoon practicing on the artificial turf at Illinois Field, the home of the Fighting Illini baseball team, before they play on a similar surface Wednesday at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield.
They've been playing softball in Monticello for more than three decades, and they've now gone further than ever before. The Sages will play Rock Island Alleman in the state semifinals on Friday.