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Southwestern seventh grade girls rally to win third at state

The Southwestern seventh grade girls’ basketball team rallied from a 16-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to stun Chillicothe, 25-21, in the third place game of the IESA state tournament in Auburn Dec. 7. The Piasa Birds finished the 2023 season with a 25-2 record. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern CUSD #9 Facebook page.

 

By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter

The Southwestern seventh grade girls’ basketball team, fueled by the support of its raucous pep club, rallied to take third place at the Illinois Elementary School Assocation Class 3A state finals at Auburn High School Dec. 7.

After trailing 16-10 through three quarters in their final game of a magical season, the Piasa Birds seized one last memorable moment as they came from behind to knock off Chillicothe, 25-21.

Fittingly, the one who rose to deliver was Southwestern’s leading scorer – Izzabella Kirby. Kirby compiled 16 points in the victory and ended the state tourney with 32 tallies in three games.

Kora Slaten, who contributed 23 tallies over that stretch, added four points. As a bonus, she was awarded a sportmanship pin.

Alyssa Manns (three points) and Maddie Pruitt (two points) rounded out the Southwestern scoring attack.

Southwestern defeated Stanford Olympia, 37-28, to reach the Final Four but came up short against eventual runner-up Williamsville, 35-24, in the state semifinal.

The Piasa Birds were recognized during halftime of a Southwestern High School basketball game Dec. 11.

This year’s team features Kirby, Slaten, Manns, Pruitt, Addilyn Darr, Samantha Johanning, Zoey Ashburn, Elliott Guthrie, Mia Wolff, Addison Guthrie, Lillian Reynolds, Mikayla Means and Emma Schulte.

Southwestern, which previously dismantled Gillespie (21-4), Carlinville (26-13) and Staunton (24-17) en route to a state berth, finished the 2023 season with 25 wins and two losses.