IHSA State Tournament just wrapped up this past weekend in Peoria, IL. Congratulations to all the teams that won State or played for a chance at a Championship. I have so many memories of growing up close to Peoria and going to the tournament every year. My memories include the March Madness Experience, and getting to see players that went on to play professional or have great high school careers. These memories are really cool as I find out that many people in northern Illinois didn’t go to State to get to experience this.
The March Madness Experience was a side entertainment in the Civic Center where kids could go do basketball activities. I remember going into the experience as young as 6th grade and playing basketball all day and enjoying the free Prairie Farms milk that was handed out. That would be a little different as I am older and don’t like physical activity all day and I also am now self diagnosis lactose intolerant. But in the March Madness Experience you were able to play 3 on 3, 3 point competition, shoot at hoops 20 feet high, or even the slam dunk competition. All of these were a lot of fun even though I didn’t believe it or not compete in the slam dunk competition. The best thing in the March Madness Experience was the Rainbow Shot. The Rainbow Shot is where they start at free throw line until someone makes it then they keep going back until the clock runs out. In the Rainbow Shot you saw the line getting so far back that people would have to one hand toss it like a football three quarters of the basketball court. I feel bad for the people that didn’t get to experience the Experience, but overall the best part of the IHSA State was getting to see great high school players.
Some of the players that I got to see where names such as Meyers Leonard, Jabari Parker, Jalen Brunson, Jahlil Okafor and Evan Turner. But the best player I ever got to see at State was Derrick Rose who played for Simeon. I remember my dad telling me that we had to go watch this kid play because he was something special so we went to the State Championship of Simeon vs Richwoods High School. It was Derrick Rose junior year and the game went into overtime and was a close game. In the final seconds of overtime Rose stole the ball and hit the game winning jumper as time expired. Once we saw this game my dad and I had to watch his senior year at State where Simeon would make their way back. Simeon was playing O’Fallon and Derrick Rose didn’t have to play well for Simeon to beat O’Fallon 77-54. Rose only had 2 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds. After those games Derrick Rose became my favorite player and I followed him as he played for Memphis and the Chicago Bulls.
The IHSA State Tournament was always a great time when I was in Junior High and High School. It was also great getting to see players that make people feel proud to come from Illinois basketball.