Nearly four years after placing fourth in the IHSA Class 1A state boys' basketball tournament, could the Annawan Braves be back on track to play in Peoria once again?|
That could be a possibility within the next several years if the success enjoyed by Annawan's 7th-grade boys is an indication. Coached by former Annawan multi-sport standout Joe Schmitt, with former varsity coach Zach DeMay as his assistant, the young Braves are one win away from an Illinois Elementary School Association state title.
Annawan takes a 21-2 record into Thursday night's 7:30 championship game against Dieterich (22-2) at St. Joseph Middle School, just east of Champaign-Urbana. Forward Ben Buresh -- whose older sister Kelly is the Annawan varsity girls' all-time leading scorer -- has tallied 43 points in two games as the Braves topped Champaign Next Generation 33-24 and routed Mulberry Grove 42-12 in the semifinals.
The one and only state-tourney appearance for Annawan's varsity boys came in 2009, when the Alex Coppejans-led squad finished 27-8 and topped Newark in the DeKalb Super-Sectional after winning the program's second sectional title, its first since 1986.
-- By Terry Duckett