This weekend brings the beginning of the state championships in girls basketball in the lower classes in Illinois. The Class 1A semifinals begin at noon Friday with a matchup between 29-2 Annawan and 29-3 Freeport Aquin in a game that should be the state title game instead of a semifinal. Annawan is led by Celina VanHyfte, who is averaging nearly 23 points per game. Annawan hasn't lost since Dec. 29 and is on a 16-game winning streak. Freeport Aquin has their own 20-point per game scorer in Sophia Brunner and is on a 22-game winning streak going into Friday's semifinal.
The other Class 1A semifinal pits 26-5 Cowden-Herrick against 28-4 Mt. Pulaski. Mt. Pulaski is a solid, balanced team that has three players scoring in double figures this season including nearly 18 a game from Jessica Awe. On the other side with Cowden-Herrick, it comes down to Micah Jones. Jones is averaging over 24 points per game for a team that hasn't lost since Jan. 12. That game will tip off at around 2 p.m. at Illinois State University in Normal.
Later Friday night will be the Class 2A semifinals beginning at 6:30 p.m. with the first matchup being 31-2 Nashville against 26-6 Walther Lutheran. Walther Lutheran lost their first two games this season but has bounced back with 26 wins in their last 30 games. Isimeme Edeko is averaging just under 15 points a game this season and will be depended on to score more for Walther Lutheran to get the win. Nashville has four players who average between nine and 13 points per game led by Shaye Harre, who is averaging 12.9 points a game.
The final game of the night will bring a matchup between 31-2 St. Thomas More and 29-1 El Paso Gridley at 8:15 p.m. El Paso's only loss came just after Christmas and the team is led by Rebekah Ehresman, who is averaging 16.5 points per contest. St. Thomas More has three players who average between 12 and 15 points a game led Lexi Wallen and Tori McCoy who both score about 15 points per game. This should be a very good weekend of games as the state basketball finals begin.