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Chillicothe Times-Bulletin - Chillicothe, IL
  • CJH eighth-grade boys play at State for the first time

  • Chillicothe Junior High's eighth-grade boys basketball team made history with the first State appearance Saturday at Monticello Middle School.
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  • Chillicothe Junior High's eighth-grade boys basketball team made history with the first State appearance Saturday at Monticello Middle School.
    The team is the first eighth-grade boys basketball team from CJH to play at State.
    "I am very excited for our kids," coach Kevin Yates said. "The coaches and I ask a lot of them throughout the season, as far as practice and keeping their grades and behavior in the classroom up to our expectations.
    "They are able to succeed on the court as well. It is a very gratifying situation for us."
    The team fell, 47-19, to Pleasant Plains in the opening round.
    The defense of Pleasant Plains gave the Mustangs too much trouble to consistently set up the offensive sets the team would need to win.
    Despite the lopsided score, the Mustangs never let up and played hard until the final buzzer.
    "We play a very good Pleasant Plains team that won the State tournament as seventh-graders," Yates said before the game. "We will need to keep turnovers to a minimum and really execute defensively to advance to the medal rounds."
    The team beat Stronghurst West Central 35-26 Feb. 6 to win the Farmington Central Sectional and advance to State.
    "We scouted them very well," Yates said. "We met with coaches at the high school and they helped us develop a good game plan to keep them from getting the ball inside to their big guys.
    The boys stuck with the game plan and executed when they had to."
    During the game, Cameron Owdom had no trouble knocking down shots from all over the floor, despite defensive pressure.
    Owdom led the team with 18 points.
    Blake Lewis dominated in the post, leading the team with six rebounds.
    The selfless play of Jordan Mercer led to him leading the squad with four assists during the game.
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