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7th grade girls cap season in sectional championship game

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TAYLORVILLE — With the Jr. High student section, Gold Rush, behind her Reagan Funderburk (#11) shoots the game tying free throw that sent the game into halftime, 13-13. Funderburk lead both Taylorville and Chatham-Glenwood in scoring with 14 in the IESA Sectional Championship game.

Lucas Domonousky

Breeze-Courier Sports Editor

TAYLORVILLE — North School Annex played host to the IESA 7th Grade girls basketball Sectional Championship on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Reagan Funderburk and the Taylorville Tornadoes attempted to defend their territory against an aggressive, physical Chatham-Glenwood team. Though the Purple and Gold hung with their opponent through the duration of the game it was ultimately the inconsistency at the free throw line and a big defensive stand for the Titans in the third quarter that caused Taylorville to fall just short of victory, 32-27 the final.

“We saw this team a few weeks ago and they ran us out of the gym, quite honestly.” First year 7th grade girls Head Coach Max Wilson said. “So, if we could keep it close, we knew we had a chance and they did that. The girls showed up, played defense a little bit differently than we have. Overall, nothing but impressed with them. I’m proud of them. They handled the pressure the whole game. They played hard. It’s a loss but I can’t be anything but proud of them.”

The opening quarter, just like the entirety of the matchup, was war. Taylorville outscored Chatham 9-5 but the Titans roared back in the second. Halftime, 13-13, Coach Wilson explains the scene in the locker room.

“The girls said it first, ‘New half. It’s zero-zero. Just the way we like it.’”. The Head Coach explains. “We’ve been built that way. That’s the culture we have here. We knew we had to win the first three minutes coming out and we hung with them for those minutes. We’ve been here before. We’ve been in close games. They knew exactly what to do.”

Chatham came out firing into the third quarter and went on a 11-3 run.

The final quarter saw the Tornadoes claw there was back into the victory conversation when Reagan Funderburk and Kinzley Heimsness smacked two mid-range shots to get their team back into the ball game. Funderburk showed out for Taylorville scoring 14 points which was the most points by an individual on either team. Heimsness added 5 to the total.

“Not surprised.” Wilson comments on the two clutch shots. “Those two do it in practice all the time. That’s what we said. We had to poke a few and they stepped up and did it. We knew where the ball had to go. Those girls know how to shoot so we let them shoot.”

In the final moments of the game, the Chatham- Glenwood Titans sealed their victory at the free throw line. The opposing team finished the match making 11-18 at the charity stripe. This ended up being the Tornadoes achilles heel as they only made eight (8) of their nineteen (19) attempts. Iris Heberling (6) and Nevaeh Wiley (2) added a combined eight (8) to the team total.

The 7th grade Taylorville cap their 2023-’24 season with a 21-7 record, a Regional Championship over Mt. Zion (22-18) and an appearance in the Sectional Championship. All in the first season under Wilson as Head Coach.

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TAYLORVILLE — Taylorville’s Nevaeh Wiley storms down the court with determination during the first half of the Sectional Championship match held on Wednesday, Nov. 29. The Tornadoes fell to the Titans in a down-to-the-wire game, 32- 27 the final.

Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier Photo

“Nothing but proud of these girls.” He states. “The growth that they have shown in practice everyday, never giving up, going hard everyday. The most exciting thing about it is this is just the beginning of their story here playing for the Taylorville basketball program. They’ve got a long five years ahead of them and they set the bar pretty high. It’s a great group of girls on and off the court. Couldn’t have hand picked a better group to start my girls coaching experience, that’s for sure.”

Moving forward, even though the 2023-’24 season is finished for this team the future Taylorville girls basketball continues to be in great care.

“Best part about it,” Wilson concludes. “is they get a better coach now with Doug Bowsher. I can’t wait to see what he does with them next because he’s the basketball mastermind. It’s all up from here. It’s going to be a great story so anyone who watches basketball, keep an eye on this group.”

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