Illinois senior Jon Ekey saved the biggest shot of his career for his last shot of the regular season. Ekey hit a deep 3 with :0.5 left to lift Illinois to an improbably 66-63 win in Iowa City. Ekey drained three 3-PT on the night - none bigger than the final one. Illinois raced out to a 20-6 lead, threatening to blow out Iowa on their home floor, but the Hawkeyes surged back to lead by five at the half. In the second half, Illinois (18-13, 7-11) managed to re-take the lead late, only to let Iowa tie the game with less than 1:00 to play. That's when Ekey saved the day.
The Illinois men's gymnastics team beat UIC 427.850-401.900. The women beat Lindenwood 197.100-194.450.
The Illinois football team practiced in pads for the first time Saturday as part of their spring workouts leading up to the Spring Game April 12. Several players from last year's team are also working out, but they're preparing for a future in the NFL. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns has more on former Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown as he gets ready for the NFL Draft.
Highlights and scores from Full Court Friday on March 7th.
Here's what Twitter users are saying about tonight's regional title game between Central and Centennial at Combes Gym. Watch for highlights tonight at 10:00 on WCIA 3.
Illinois might not be at full strength when they finish the regular season at Iowa Saturday night. Senior guard Joseph Bertrand left Tuesday's game early with a knee injury. Head coach John Groce said on a teleconference Friday that Bertrand practiced Thursday and will hopefully be ready. Meanwhile freshman point guard Jaylon Tate will be closer to a game-time deicision as he nurses a foot injury.
The Illinois baseball team will take a four-game winning streak into their series at Western Kentucky this weekend. The start of that series - originally scheduled for Friday - was pushed back until Saturday.
If you're looking for a decision on a starting quarterback soon, you're probably going to have to wait for at least a few more weeks. While offensive coordinator Bill Cubit said earlier this week he could name a starter by the end of spring, he isn't going to force the issue. Right now, Wes Lunt, Aaron Bailey and Reilly O'Toole are all getting equal reps with the first-team offense, and Cubit says that will probably continue for the next few weeks.
Illinois-signee Aaron Jordan was named to the Chicago Sun-Times All-Area Team Friday. The Plainfield East junior - and future Illini - averaged 20 points a game, while shooting 47% from 3-PT range. Curie's Cliff Alexander was named the Sun-Times Player of the Year and the Naismith National Player of the Year Friday.
No matter how the Illinois men's basketball season finishes, head coach John Groce has made a lasting impact in the lives of one central Illinois family. All it took was a letter - a simple response - in a time of need. As WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten reports, it made all the difference.
19 NFL scouts from 18 teams were in Champaign Thursday for Illinois' annual Pro Day. Several Illinois seniors worked out in hopes of impressing the scouts before the NFL Draft in May. One guy who had a lot to prove was linebacker Jonathan Brown. He struggled in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, running it in 5.03 seconds. Thursday he improved that time, clocking in at 4.85. Brown also bench 18 reps at 225 pounds. He only did 16 reps at the Combine.
Illinois cut No. 23 Iowa’s lead to nine with 5:17 left in the game but missed its final seven shots as the fifth-seeded Hawkeyes pulled away for an 81-62 win in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Thursday.
The Illinois Track and Field teams will send three athletes to the NCAA Indoor Championships, which begin March 14 in Albuquerque, N.M. On the men's side, senior Vanier Joseph will run in the 60m hurdles, and junior Davis Fraker will compete in the weight throw. For the women, freshman Kandie Bloch-Jones - an Argenta-Oreana grad - has qualified to compete in the high jump. Bloch-Jones won the Big Ten Championship last week. She becomes the first Illini female high jumper since 2007 to qualify for NCAA Indoors.
Spring practice began Wednesday for the Illinois football team, and the battle for the starting quarterback job is on. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit said Wednesday he hopes to name a starter by the end of the spring, but he will wait until fall camp if a starter doesn't emerge. Three quarterbacks - Wes Lunt, Aaron Bailey and Reilly O'Toole split up equal reps with the first team on day one.
Boys sectional, regional highlights and scores
A tragic accident took the life of a wife, mother and coach. Three years later, her son Dalton Walsh has emerged as one of the senior leaders for two of St. Joseph-Ogden's top sports teams. Tonight Walsh publicly shares his story for the first time to WCIA 3's Bret Beherns.
Boys sectional, regional highlights and scores
It was a record-setting night at State Farm Center - just not the kind of history Illinois was hoping to right. No. 12 Michigan led from wire-to-wire en route to an 84-53 win. The 31-point margin of victory is the largest by any visiting team in State Farm Center history. Michigan shot 56% from the field and nearly 70% from 3-PT range. The Wolverines hit 16 threes. That ties a State Farm Center record. Illinois (17-13, 6-11) was led by Rayvonte Rice's 16 points and nine rebounds. Illinois will finish up the regular season Saturday at Iowa.
Spring football practice starts Wednesday at the U of I as Tim Beckman prepares for his third year with the Illini. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten has more on some of the storylines to watch as Spring practice begins.
Former Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo worked out Tuesday for scouts and coaches at Northwestern's Pro Day in Evanston. According to reports, 31 of the 32 NFL teams were there. Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien and San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh took an especially close look at Garoppolo. In fact, there was a point during the day when Harbaugh pulled Garoppolo aside for a 1-on-1 workout.
Boys regional highlights/scores
The St. Thomas More community is still buzzing about the girls basketball team winning it's first ever state title Saturday night. Sabers' coach Chris Mennig was kind enough to let WCIA 3 mic him up for the state title game. Here's a look at our behind-the-scenes access with the state champs.
Tim Beckman announced Monday that running back Dami Ayoola and defensive tackle Vontrell Williams are no longer with the Illinois football team. Spring practice starts Wednesday. Ayoola was not with the team last year, but he had hoped to come back this year. Beckman said neither player followed the guidelines and expectations needed to be part of the team.
Illinois' postseason hopes got a big lift Saturday when Illinois beat No. 18 Michigan State in East Lansing. Now, believe it or not, their NCAA Tournament chances are still alive if they can finish strong.
Illinois freshman Kandie Bloch-Jones won the Big Ten indoor high jump title over the weekend. The Argenta-Oreana grad cleared 1.8m to beat out Springfield High-grad Sarah Maxson (Indiana) for the Big Ten title.
Following a 4-0 weekend in Gainesville, Fla., a pair of Illini earned conference honors on Monday. Sophomore Kevin Duchene was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, while sophomore Ryan Nagle was tabbed Big Ten Co-Player of the Week after helping Illinois to two wins each over No. 23 Florida and Florida Gulf Coast.
Illinois senior guard Amber Moore and junior guard Ivory Crawford were named honorable mention All-Big Ten Monday, as the conference announced its postseason honors. Crawford earned the honor from both the conference coaches and media, while Moore was named honorable mention by Big Ten media members.
The St. Thomas More girls basketball team stopped by the WCIA studios to talk about their state championship season.
The Illinois basketball team cranks up the defense and former Illinois assistant coach Jay Price talks about their new found postseason hopes.
Illini public address announcer Tim Sinclair has been named to the same position with the Chicago Fire. He will stay on doing Illini games and with WBGL Radio in addition to working with the Major League Soccer team.
St. Thomas More defeated Prophetstown 70-34 in the state finals. Teutopolis took third place with a 32-28 win over Elmhurst (IC Central). Central A&M took fourth place losing to Eastland 55-50.
Illinois won at Michigan State for the first time since 2006 Saturday. Tracy Abrams scored a team-high 12 points as the Illini upset Michigan State 53-46 for their third win in a row. Illinois held its fourth straight opponent to under 50 points. The Illini haven't done that since 1947.
St. Thomas More girls win state semifinal game. Teutopolis and Central A&M will each play for third. PLUS boys regional and senior night highlights.
The Central A&M girls basketball team lost to Carrollton 40-38 in the Class 1A state semifinals Friday afternoon at Redbird Arena in Normal. The Lady Raiders jumped out to an early 9-0 lead, but couldn't hold it as the Lady Hawks stormed back for the win. Central A&M struggled offensively all day. They only scored 38 points, which is their second-fewest in a single game all season. The Lady Raiders (27-6) will face Lanark (Eastland) (28-6) in the third place game Saturday at 12:15 pm. The game will be televised LIVE on WCIX.
Illinois LEO Houston Bates has decided to skip his final football season at Illinois and will transfer to a school closer to his home in Louisiana to finish his collegiate playing career. Bates, a native of Covington, La., will graduate in May with his bachelor’s degree in community health, and would be eligible to play immediately at a different school should he choose.
Illinois narrowly missed a huge upset of No. 16 Nebraska, falling 72-65 to the Huskers in front of 7,480 fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday. The Illini pulled within 65-63 with 3:03 remaining on an Amber Moore three-pointer but made just 2-of-7 free throws down the stretch as Nebraska salted away the victory from the free-throw line, making 7-of-8 in the final 2:06.
The Illinois men snapped a five-game home losing streak with a win over a red-hot Nebraska team Wednesday night. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns has more on how they did it, and what the win means moving forward.
Wednesday night in Fisher's regional semifinal game vs. Tri-Point with their season on the line, down 55-53 with 2.6 seconds left, Grant Pointer took center stage. He took an inbounds pass, dribbled twice, and heaved a prayer from just inside half-court. The shot was good, and Fisher won 56-55.
Boys basketball regional highlights and scores
Reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week Kendrick Nunn led the way again with a game-high 13 points as Illinois avenged an earlier loss to Nebraska 60-49. Nunn continued his hot shooting, going 3-for-4 from 3PT range. Rayvonte Rice added 10 points and 9 rebounds for Illinois.
Fisher's Grant Pointer hit a near half-court buzzer beater to send Fisher past Tri-Point 56-55 Wednesday night. Thanks to Dave Fink and Craig Rogers for the video.
Five-star shooting guard Charles Matthews from Chicago's St. Rita High School verbally committed to Kentucky Wednesday morning, choosing the Wildcats over Illinois and three other finalists. Matthews is the No. 1 player in the state of Illinois and No. 12 in the nation according to ESPN.
Boys basketball, wrestling highlights; girls basketball scores
The St. Thomas More girls are headed back to state for the second straight year - and after losing in the state title game last year, they're back for some redemption at Redbird. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten has more on the Sabers and their quest for their first ever state championship.
John Groce has been looking for a consistent second scoring option behind Rayvonte Rice, and he may have finally found some help in freshmen Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn. The two first-year players have been mainstays in the starting lineup for the last two weeks. Nunn is the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week after scoring 19 points at Minnesota. He and Hill have provided the spark this team has been looking for, and they've done a good job taking some of the pressure off of Rice.
Girls supersectional highlights, boys regional scores
Illinois' Kendrick Nunn was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week Monday after he scored a game-high 19 points to help lead Illinois past Minnesota Wednesday night in Minneapolis. It's the first freshman of the week honor for the Chicago-native. Nunn has come on strong late in the season, averaging 13 points game since becoming a starter earlier this month.
Jered Cortez was overcome with emotion as he got ready to take his place at the top of the medal stand. The Glenbard North senior won a 3-1 overtime tie-break to win his fourth straight state championship Saturday night.
A successful weekend for the Illini women's gymnastics team was validated today by the conference office, as they named Amber See Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week and Erin Buchanan Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
Former Illini assistant coach Jay Price looks at the Big Ten race and Illinois' postseason opportunities.