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MS basketball: Southwestern seventh grade girls reach state, will play for third

The Southwestern seventh grade basketball team defeated Staunton, 24-17, to win the IESA 7-3A Divernon sectional and advance to the state tournament Nov. 29. The Birds went on to best Stanford Olympia, 37-28, in the knockout round and will battle Chillicothe for third place after losing to Williamsville in the semifinals Dec. 2. The Birds are 24-2 overall. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern CUSD No. 9 Facebook page.


Enquirer Democrat Reporter

The Southwestern Middle School basketball program features one of the top four seventh grade teams in the state.

The Piasa Birds have pushed a magical 2023 season to its final day and will be competing for third place.

Southwestern is 25-2 overall.


The Piasa Birds battled their rivals, the Staunton Terriers, for a state berth Nov. 29 and came away with a 24-17 victory to take the Illinois Elementary School Class 7-3A Divernon sectional title.

Following the game, Maddie Pruitt (Southwestern) and Penn Laux (Staunton) each received a pin in recognition of “outstanding sportsmanship.”

Staunton, which had placed runner-up at the IESA state tourney in Auburn four years ago, finished 2023 15-6 overall.

Following the IESA seventh grade girls’ Divernon sectional championship game between Southwestern and Staunton, one player from each team received a pin in recognition of “outstanding sportsmanship.” The recipients were Maddie Pruitt (Southwestern) and Penn Laux (Staunton). Photo courtesy of the Illinois Elementary School Association Facebook page.

State tournament

Southwestern cleared the final single elimination knockout hurdle with a 37-28 victory over Stanford Olympia in the state quarterfinals at Auburn High School Dec. 2. Seven Birds contributed to the win offensively, including Kora Slaten (nine points), Izzabella Kirby (eight points), Pruitt (seven points), Zoey Ashburn (five points), Alyssa Manns (four points) and Addison Guthrie (two points). Southwestern came out of the gates hot, leading 12-5 after the first quarter and 26-15 at the half.

Southwestern’s next opponent, on that same day, was Sangamo heavyweight Williamsville. Both teams entered the semifinal round with 24 wins apiece and were toe-to-toe up until the final six minutes. After trailing 17-11 at the half, the Birds reduced the Bullets’ lead to 21-19 heading into the fourth. Unfortunately, Southwestern didn’t have enough gas remaining in the tank to complete the rally. The Birds came to a chilling halt down the stretch and the Bullets pulled away to win the game, 35-24. Slaten led Southwestern with 10 tallies in the loss. Kirby added eight points. Ashburn (five points) and Manns (one point) rounded out the Birds’ scoring attack.

Southwestern plays Chillicothe (23-4) for third place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7 at AHS. The state championship game between Williamsville and Teutopolis will follow at 7:30 p.m.