CHBC Headed to Class 1A State Tournament


Published on February 20 2013 8:53 am
Last Updated on February 21 2013 8:37 am
Written by Millie Lange

It's all about baby steps according to Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City Coach Carolyn Wendte. Her girls basketball squad will be heading to the Class 1A State Tournament Friday and Saturday at Redbird Arena in Bloomington.

"Everybody had us counted out after losing our seniors from last year's state team," said Wendte who is in her 21st year coaching. "This group just wanted to be a part of it again and our biggest strength is our determination. More important this year, it's all about baby steps. Instead of setting big-time goals, we set short goals.

"For example, we talked about wanting to place in the Dieterich Tournament and wanted to be first in the National Trail Conference. As a team we wanted to run through the conference without defeats."

The Hornets did just that, taking the conference championship with a perfect 6-0 record and winning the NTC Tournament.

"Another step was competing in the Highland Tournament. We were satisfied losing the first game because at least we brought home some hardware, taking the consolation championship. We set little goals like that and I've watched the girls as their eyes lit up as they met those goals. They had a good group ahead of them but they learned they could also be successful."

And successful they have been, putting together a 26-5 record, winning the Dieterich Tournament along with the NTC and the consy title at Highland. They won the South Central Regional, the Altamont Sectional and the Salem Super-Sectional.

Coach Wendte talked about her group as individuals.

"Chandler Ward, a 5-foot-5 sophomore, comes off the bench and buys me minutes at the guard spot. She’s a go-getter. Her motto is 'she’s not afraid of anyone.' At 5-foot-5, which is pushing it, she pulled down seven boards in the super-sectional. She’s a role player, comes in and plays good defense. Overall she has been scoring for me and helping us out.

"Jensyn Morrison, a 5-foot-8 sophomore, comes off the bench. She can play a starting role off and on depending on quickness. Again she helps on the boards and also helps with ballhandling. She’s also pretty good on the offensive end.

"What can I say about Micah Jones? She is a team leader and our co-captain. She’s leading on points, rebounds and assists. She does the little things right. She draws attention on offense so she's not afraid of dishing off. She’s the leader telling kids you can do it. She broke the career scoring record and has 2,083 points and she's over 1,000 rebounds for her career.  I can’t say enough about her.

"Ashley Miller, a 5-foot-4 junior, comes off the bench. She is a guard. She shares a lot of spots on defense. She gives Ava Paruleski a breather once in a while.

"Taylor Edwards, a 5-foot-6 senior, comes off the bench. She give’s folks breathers and helps out with the defensive end.

"Autumn Riley, a 5-foot-7 senior, is our unsung hero. She doesn’t get a lot of publicity but when they’re double teaming Micah or Ava, she steps up. She kept us in the ballgame at the super-sectional. She can shoot the outside jumper and can go inside. She plays a big role on inside blocking out. Does her share of getting the girls out so Micah can get the board.

"Ava Paruleski, a 5-foot-8 senior, is the other co-captain. She’s actually my general on the floor. She can play good defense. She has great leaping ability. She can change a lot of the guard’s shots. If I need to rotate her inside she can block out with the big girls. She’s really stepped up her game as she started feeling better after Christmas. She has a quick first step.

"Summer Riley, a 5-foot-6 freshman, dressed in tournaments and has dressed lately. I try to get them some experience at the varsity level. Summer is a go-getter and is an offensive threat but hasn’t got a lot of varsity experience.

"Kirby Herrmann, a 5-foot-7 junior, is a starter. She has to do a lot of the dirty work. Helps Micah out on the inside. She's only bout 5-7 but blocks out well. When we dish off to her she makes sure she makes the shots. She doesn’t get a lot of rebounds because she blocks out and Micah goes to the ball.

"Kacie Hilt, a 5-foot-5 junior guard, works out there with Ava. She scores when she’s called upon but her biggest thing is she works hard with Ava and tries to control the good guards we play. She plays heads-up defense.

"Alicia Adams, a 5-foot-6 sophomore, is like Summer. She has been brought up to the varsity during our state series run. She’s a go-getter. Basically will get playing time here and there and gain experience for next year."

Jones leads the Hornets with a 24.2 scoring average and has 508 rebounds this season and 155 assists. She will be playing for Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville next season. Paruleski averages 12.5 points a game, has 109 rebounds and 71 assists. Riley is at 9.7 points a game, has 113 rebounds and 59 assists.

"Our goal was to win the regional then look at one game at a time," said Wendte. "Each and every night we won was big to them. We don’t have a goal for state yet. Our goal was just to get there. It’s all about the team concept. We’re sitting down and thinking about it. We just set little standards throughout each and every game. That’s what makes this team unique.

"We want big but we think little. That’s just the truth. That is the best way. They have the determination of the world.

"I have played and coached a lot of basketball. But I don't think I've ever seen a team do what we've done in the post-season. You have a turnover with eight seconds on the clock and Jones has four fouls and the other team just let the ball go out of bounds. Then you have 30 turnovers against Central A&M but we still won. That just doesn’t happen. I don’t have the answers, I’m just enjoying it. It's all the heart and desire put out there on the floor by this team and that's why we can overcome deficits.

"My kids just never tightened up during all of this. They stayed loose and good things happened. That's experience. Hopefully that experience will help us at state this year. Now I'm just praying for good weather and that everybody will be safe."

The Hornets face Mount Pulaski at 2 p.m. Friday while Annawan and Freeport Aquin meet at 12:15 p.m. The winners advance to the state title at 2 p.m. Saturday while the losers will play for third place at 12:15 p.m.

Mount Pulaski comes in with a 28-4 record and has three players in double figures with Jessica Awe, a 5-foot-4 senior, averaging 17.9 points a game, Andrea Dickerson, a 5-foot-10 senior, at 14.1 and Erika Leever, a 5-foot-8 senior, at 11.7. This is the first state tournament appearance for Mount Pulaski.

Annawan is 29-2 and making its first-ever state tourney appearance. Freeport Aquin is 29-3 and captured the state title last year by beating Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City 61-51. This is the third time the squad has been to state.

NOTICE COWDEN-HERRICK FANS: Cowden-Herrick schools have announced they will not have classes Friday so everyone can go to Bloomington to cheer on the CHBC girls at the state basketball tournament. The Hornets will play Mount Pulaski at 2 p.m. Friday and the game will be on KJ Country 102.3 and