Piatt's OT: Junior high Bulldogs compete at state, girls' flag football is here

Feb. 29—About 300 area athletes visited The News-Gazette last Sunday for our annual Faces of the Spring event. This was my second Faces experience of my time in Champaign so far. While it is an exhausting day, it's a lot of fun.

Not only is this event a good time for the kids — answering fun questions, getting their picture taken and hopping on the radio mic — but it allows us as reporters to get to know some of the athletes we'll be covering before the season starts and learn about some of their cool stories. I got a few stories out of it, and I'm excited to share them with you all throughout the spring season.

Now, let's get to the recent news on the area prep sports scene.

A look back

Young Bulldogs at state

The Mahomet-Seymour Junior High eighth-grade boys' basketball team went on a run that dreams are made of over the last month.

The Bulldogs captured their second Class 4A IESA Danville North Ridge Regional championship in a row on Jan. 31 with a 46-23 win against the host school behind 24 points from Jackson Golden. Five days later, they punched their ticket to state with a 37-35 win against University Park Crete Monee in the sectional title game, again with Golden's 16 points leading the way.

Throughout the Bulldogs' run, Mahomet-Seymour High School students were there in full support, taking up a large chunk of the bleachers as a loud, proud student section.

M-S' magical run came to an end Feb. 10 in the state quarterfinals in a 56-48 loss to defending state champion Markham Prairie-Hills. The eighth-grade Bulldogs ended their season with a 26-2 record and their junior high careers at 50-5.

Vote for Athletes of the Week

This week's boys' finalists are Peace Bumba (St. Thomas More basketball), Owen Kearns (Mahomet-Seymour swimming), Caleb Mathias (Champaign Central track and field) and Braden Phillips (Arcola basketball).

For the girls, we have Nina Brown (Centennial track and field), Chloe Hoselton (Prairie Central wrestling), Phoenix Molina (Unity wrestling) and Josie Neukomm (Cissna Park basketball).

Phillips has taken control of the boys' poll, and the girls' vote has turned into a rematch of the 235-pound state championship match between Hoselton and Molina. You still have until noon Thursday to cast your vote under the "Prep Sports" tab on

A look ahead

Girls' flag football is coming

Flag football was always fun for me because I was fast, so I could get away from the defenders' reach. The IHSA has officially added girls' flag football to its slate of sports, and I can't wait to see some of our area schools join the fun in the next couple years.

Danville will be our only area school joining the 100-plus around the state next fall as the first group of Illinois high school girls' flag football teams. Clinton, Mahomet-Seymour, Monticello, Unity and Urbana are set to join the Vikings in 2025. Champaign Central, Prairie Central and St. Joseph-Ogden plan to follow suit in 2026.


Braydon Dowler

Villa Grove track and field

Broke his own Blue Devil record in the indoor 200-meter dash last Thursday with a time of 23.65 seconds.

Josie Neukomm

Cissna Park girls' basketball

Made the game-winning three-pointer, her fifth three of the day, with 20 seconds left in the Timberwolves' 43-42 double-overtime Class 1A Ridgeview Sectional championship win over Gibson City-Melvin Sibley last Thursday.

It was Cissna Park's first sectional title since 2014, making the Timberwolves the only area team to advance to a super-sectional.

Chloe Hoselton

Prairie Central wrestling

Won an individual IHSA girls' wrestling state title at 235 pounds last Saturday with a 2-1 win by ultimate tiebreaker over Unity's Phoenix Molina.

James Lee

Arthur Christian boys' basketball

Made a 180 turnaround three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Conquering Riders a 68-65 win over Families of Faith in the Midwest Christian School Championship last Saturday.

Addison Lucht

Cissna Park girls' basketball

Scored her 1,000th career point in the Timberwolves' 52-44 Class 1A Blue Ridge Super-Sectional loss to Altamont last Monday with a team-high 17 points. Not bad for a sophomore. Cissna Park's season ended one step shy of reaching the state tournament for the first time since 2000.

Aubrie Jenkins

Westville girls' basketball

Won the Vermilion County Principals Association individual girls' basketball sportsmanship award.

Aiden Skinner

Westville boys' basketball

Won the Vermilion County Principals Association individual boys' basketball sportsmanship award.

Armstrong-Potomac girls' basketball

Won the Vermilion County Principals Association team girls' basketball sportsmanship award.

Georgetown-Ridge Farm boys' basketball

Won the Vermilion County Principals Association team boys' basketball sportsmanship award.