PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Special night for Hoopeston Area, Hall of Famers

Feb. 3—HOOPESTON — A special night deserves a special victory.

On a night when the Hoopeston Area Athletic Hall of Fame welcomed eight new individuals and the 1984 boys basketball team, the Armstrong-Potomac Trojans nearly spoiled the festivities.

The Cornjerkers, who had previous beaten the Trojans 52-45 on Nov. 24, 2023 and 71-46 in the Vermilion County Tournament on Jan. 13, needed a second-half rally and three missed 3-point attempts in the final 30 seconds to pull out a 59-56 triumph in a Vermilion Valley Conference contest.

"We (coaching staff) tried to tell them that it's hard to beat a team three times in a row," said Hoopeston Area coach Kevin Root, who was a sophomore on the 1984 team. "I kept telling them that this wouldn't be the same team that we played in County and dominated."

And Root was right.

Armstrong-Potomac got contributions from five different players in the first half, building a 28-25 halftime advantage.

"We shuffled the lineup a little bit tonight and I think it was successful," said Armstrong-Potomac coach Wade Rogers, who put sophomore Luke Townsend into the starting lineup. "We started off down 10 points, but Kollin Asbury pulled the group together and showed good leadership.

"We fought hard. I thought we deserved to win, but in the game of basketball, someone has to lose."

One of the biggest changes for Hoopeston Area (17-10 overall, 5-3 in the VVC) in the second half was the availability of senior center Kendrick Sigerill.

The 6-foot-3 Sigerill spent nearly all of the first half on the bench in foul trouble.

"Coach calmed me down in the locker room at halftime," Sigerill admitted. "I was very mad. He calmed me down and just told me to play my game and don't worry about the refs so much."

After being held scoreless in the first half, Sigerill scored 13 second-half points helping the Cornjerkers take the lead for good in the final minute of the third quarter.

"We played as a team," Sigerill said. "In the first half, we were all kind of selfish, everyone was playing for themselves.

"At halftime, we came together as a group and I think it showed in the second half."

Sigerill acknowledged that Friday's game was probably a little more physical than normal, as the two schools co-op for football.

"Kollin (Asbury) was my main wide receiver," he said. "I know them guys pretty well."

And the senior was quick to give them credit as well.

"That is a complete different team than when we played them the first two times this year," he said. "They came out pretty aggressively. In the first two matchups, we got pretty good leads on them. They were right there with us for the entire game."

Asbury scored 13 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes during an 9-0 run for the Trojans as they pulled within a point at 57-56 with 36 seconds left in the contest.

"Our guys thought all we needed to do was to stop Kollin. But, that didn't happen," Root said. "We talked all week about how to stop him, but it was just simple stuff that we allowed him to do."

Hoopeston Area junior Trenton Montez made 1-of-2 free throws with 30 seconds left to give the Cornjerkers the 59-56 lead, and when Armstrong-Potomac (12-14 overall, 4-4 in the VVC) missed all three attempts from 3-point range in the final 30 seconds the special night had its successful ending.

"The fight is in us," Rogers said. "We will compete with anyone on any night. As a coach, that's all I can ask for before we go into regionals in a couple weeks."

Hall of Fame Honorees

Before Friday's game, the eight graduates that were recognized as the newest members of the Hoopeston Area Athletic Hall of Fame were: Mark Alt (track), Larry Davis (football). Tim Drollinger (football), Linda Duffin (volleyball, basketball and track), Erika (Ramos) Seidel (cross county and track), Gary Shoufler (wrestling) Marissa (Bushue) Smiley (volleyball, basketball and track) and Matthew Smiley (wrestling, basketball, football and track).

Additionally, this is the 40-year anniversary of Hoopeston-East Lynn making its first-ever appearance in the Elite Eight of the IHSA State Basketball Tournament in Champaign.

The Cornjerkers, who went 26-6 that season, won the Armstrong Regional title, the Watseka Sectional title before beating Toluca 51-48 in the Pontiac Super-Sectional. Hoopeston-East Lynn's bid for a state title came to end with a 61-54 loss to Mt. Pulaski in the state quarterfinals.

"All of the Hall of Fame people are incredible," said Root, a 1986 graduate. "Some of those guys on the 1984 team I haven't seen in this gym since '84. I was a sophomore that year. The four seniors on that team were here tonight and I looked up to all four of them, especially Bill Sullivan, who is a teacher at New Trier. It was special to me that he got to watch me coach. Before the game, I talked with him for a couple of minutes before the captain's meeting. I really wish I had more time with him.

"All in all, it was a great atmosphere and the place was packed."

So, it was a special night for the Cornjerkers.

Hoopeston Area 59, Armstrong-Potomac 56

Armstrong-Potomac (56) — Nathan Rogers 3 0-0 9, Cole Bailey 1 0-2 2, Ryan Edwards 0 0-0 0, Kollin Asbury 10 4-5 26, Luke Townsend 5 0-2 10, Braxton Gerth 1 2-2 4, Bowen Hesterberg 2 0-0 5. Totals: 22 6-11 56.

Hoopeston Area (59) — Wyatt Eisenmann 3 1-1 8, Trenton Montez 3 2-7 9, Zach Huchel 0 0-0 0, Mason Rush 2 0-0 6, Dylan Judy 0 0-0 0, Kendrick Sigerill 6 1-4 13, Owen Root 6 6-10 20, Ethan Steiner 1 1-1 3. Totals: 21 11-23 59.

A-P '8 '20 '13 '15 '— '56

Hoopeston Area '12 '13 '17 17 '— '59

3-pointers — Armstrong-Potomac 6 (Rogers 3, Asbury 2, Hesterberg 1). Hoopeston Area 6 (Rush 2, Root 2, Eisenmann 1, Montez 1). Total fouls — Armstrong-Potomac 18, Hoopeston Area 17. Fouled out — none.

Records — Armstrong-Potomac 12-14 overall, 4-4 in the Vermilion Valley Conference. Hoopeston Area 17-10 overall, 5-3 in the VVC.

JV score — Hoopeston Area 38, Armstrong-Potomac 32.