Piatt's OT | Corn Bowl Classic gives students experience of lifetime

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So, my dad called me after learning I had started this column, and he had some suggestions for a name. Unfortunately, they were all along the lines of "Zach writes about stuff."

While accurate, I'm sure you can see why I didn't go with it. Then, my mom chimed in with words like "extra innings" and "overtime," and just like that, my column name was born: Piatt's OT.

With that out of the way, let's get to why you're reading this.

A look back

Corn Bowl Classic a success. A few years ago, I sat down at my desk to study for finals week at Ball State. I procrastinated for a while until a buddy of mine sent me a text asking if I wanted to go watch the women's and men's basketball games at Worthen Arena back to back. I immediately dropped what I was doing and left to go watch basketball all day.

That's essentially what students at Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond, Cerro Gordo and Bement did last Friday when ALAH hosted the inaugural Corn Bowl Classic.

About 500 students from the three schools packed ALAH's gym at 10 a.m. to watch the Knights play Cerro Gordo/Bement with the same girls' matchup to follow.

"I think it was a success," ALAH athletic director Nathan Seal said. "We had a lot of positive feedback from the community, and the students who played in the games and attended the games. I thought it was well-received by all three districts."

ALAH won both games — Jayce Parsons led the boys to a 42-37 win with 18 points and seven rebounds, and Claire Seal led the girls in a 40-32 winning effort with 26 points and 11 rebounds — and Nathan Seal joked that the final scores were his favorite part of the event. In all seriousness, he loved that he could tell it was a success just by looking at the faces in the crowd.

"My favorite part was seeing the smiles on the kids' faces on both sides during the games," Seal said. "Across the board, I think the kids enjoyed it, and that's the best part."

And that's why events like this are created. This past fall, ALAH and Arcola coordinated to start an all-sports traveling trophy game for the Golden Horseshoe, the Battle of Route 133. The Knights won the first game in that series on the football field, and the Purple Riders just took it after their girls' basketball team won Monday.

It makes for something fun the kids can play for, which makes all the logistics behind creating the events worth it.

"We thought, 'What a great experience for the kids to be able to play in front of all their peers,'" Seal said of the Corn Bowl Classic. "It was a unique experience. It was loud, it was fun, and I think it's something that our kids and the students from CG/B will remember for a long time. I think it's something that will continue to grow, and the trophy just adds to the event."

Game of the year. Tuesday night at the Rocket Center in Tolono was the most electrifying basketball atmosphere I've seen all season. The Unity-Tuscola boys' basketball game lived up to the hype, as the Rockets won 74-70 to stay undefeated.

Unity senior Dalton O'Neill was insane, scoring a game-high 29 points with seven three-pointers. The Warriors were insane in the final minute, hitting three after three to keep trimming the deficit. And the crowd was insane, getting louder and louder after each basket.

What stuck out to me was the competition on the court. The little things mattered more. When Tuscola senior Jordan Quinn went for a 50-50 ball that was knocked out of bounds, the referee signaled Warriors' ball, and Quinn screamed, "Let's go" like he had just made a game-winning shot.

Unity senior Henry Thomas had the same energy early in the fourth quarter when he made a layup while Quinn fouled him. Twice before, Thomas drove the lane and went up for a shot but was blocked by Quinn. This time, Thomas drove the lane and faked a pass, which Quinn bit on, before taking the easy basket and drawing a foul.

A few minutes later, with uniforms off, players from both sides were out of their locker rooms and chatting before going their separate ways. Ultimate competition on the court and ultimate sportsmanship off the court.

A look ahead

County tourney time. The Vermilion County basketball tournaments will fill up the calendar for the next week. The seven-team girls' tournament tips off Friday, with Salt Fork the No. 1 seed and reigning champion, and the seven-team boys' tournament starts Saturday. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin is the No. 1 seed and also the reigning champion.

Three pool-play games happen Friday and Saturday this week, before the run of pool-play games continues next Monday through Thursday. The girls' title game is Friday, Jan. 19, with the boys' title game the following night on Saturday, Jan. 20.

Be on the lookout for me at Mary Miller Gymnasium on the Danville Area Community College campus in what should be a great atmosphere.


Daniel Lacy. The 2023 Centennial graduate and state champion in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash was recently named the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Sprinter of the Year.

Lacy, The News-Gazette's track and field All-Area Athlete of the Year last spring, led the Chargers to a third-place team finish at the Class 3A state meet last May and is currently running at Eastern Illinois.

Josiah Hortin. Hortin is currently a senior leader for the 15-2 Tuscola boys' basketball team, but he committed to run track and cross-country for Louisville just before Christmas and is set to sign with the Cardinals on Jan. 19. He helped the Warriors' boys' cross-country team to its first state title this fall.

Annabelle Haskins. Arthur Christian trailed Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City by three points as the final seconds ticked off the clock last Thursday. Junior Annabelle Haskins put up a 30-foot shot at the buzzer that went in and sent the game into overtime. The Conquering Riders went on to win the game 43-42, their 13th win in a row.

Reese Gallier. The Mahomet-Seymour junior scored a career-high 29 points in the Bulldogs' 62-58 win against Normal West last Thursday. She won the battle with a pair of Normal West players, who both scored 20-plus points.

Kevin Roy. With a 77-64 win against Chillicothe IVC Friday, Monticello's boys' basketball coach tied Tom Young for second all time in program wins with 336. The Sages also made 12 three-pointers in that game to tie the Sivers Center single-game record. The next day, Monticello beat New Berlin 57-26 in the Christie Clinic Shootout at St. Joseph-Ogden to move Roy into sole possession of second place for program wins. He's now 46 wins away from tying the all-time record of 383 held by Bob Trimble.

Layne Rund. Villa Grove may have lost 56-39 to Sullivan last Friday, but Rund's 14 points put him over 1,000 for his career.

Brody Cuppernell. The St. Thomas More senior had himself a week. First, he won the Prairie Central Hawk Classic award for most pins in the least amount of time on Saturday with five pins in just 2 minutes, 15 seconds, less than 30 seconds per match. Then, he won his 100th career match on Tuesday against Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. And Wednesday, he announced his commitment to continue his football career at Aurora University.

Alexa Jamison. Salt Fork's star junior girls' basketball player recently had knee surgery but is starting to get back to her scoring ways. She led the Storm to a 54-36 win over Tri-County Saturday with 21 points, and her 14 points on Monday led the team to a 48-45 win over Cissna Park.

Addy Martinie. The St. Joseph-Ogden senior scored more than half of the Spartans' points on Monday, putting up a career-high 27 in a 52-22 win over Prairie Central.

Colson Carley. Carley hadn't scored all night, but he had the ball in his hands on Tuesday in the final seconds with Cissna Park down by two points. The junior let a three-pointer fly, and it went in to give the Timberwolves a last-second 49-48 win over Salt Fork.