Year after 4A state championship, eighth graders still unbeaten

Bryan Veginski

Sectional title game tonight

The Morton Junior High eighth-grade boys basketball team will put its perfect record on the line tonight.

The Junior Potters travel to Normal Chiddix Junior High to face Normal Kingsley in a 6 p.m. tip-off for the Sectional 5 championship.

MJHS (24-0) won the Regional 10 title Thursday with a 59-22 rout of Pekin Edison.

The Junior Potters are 51-0 over the last two years after they won an Illinois Elementary School Association Class 4A state championship as seventh graders under coach Matt Yarcho.

“If we catch some breaks, we’ve got just as good a chance as anybody,” eighth-grade coach Jeff Millard said.

Morton defeated Kingsley earlier this year by 12 points.

Millard said the Cavaliers have improved since the first meeting, but so has his team.

The eighth graders survived close calls against Eureka and Dunlap Valley this year and also rallied from a 20-6 deficit to beat Bloomington.

“I’m glad that happened so we’ve had to deal with some adversity,” Millard said he told the players.

One big attraction for the boys is MJHS is the host of the eighth-grade state tournament at Morton High School. Games are slated for Saturday and Feb. 18.

“It would be a great opportunity for people to come watch us,” said Millard.

Joe Kennell, who had 28 points in the seventh-grade title game a year ago vs. East St. Louis Clark, is the Junior Potters’ leading scorer on the season.

Ian Saatoff and Breck Swinford are the next highest scorers and the top two rebounders.

Corey Dullard and Nick Taylor also have been starting down the stretch for Morton.

Jacob Morsch, recently back from an injury that sidelined him for about a dozen games, Damon Lemoine-Munoz and Nick Monferdini also are among the key contributors.