By Lenny Sementi
Coach Beth Pugh was selected to coach one of the teams for the first ever All Star Classic for junior high girls’ basketball. Probably the best part of the whole experience for the long-time leader of the Lady Hornets was the fact she welcomed two of her own to the squad. Ella Boyer and Isabelle Wilcox were both selected to the inaugural event thanks to a great eighth-grade season that fell a few points shy of a berth in the state championship tournament.
“What a great experience it was for the ladies to play in such a great event and to get to compete against some very talented players,” commented Pugh.
Lincoln College in Lincoln was event host the weekend of Dec. 15 and 16. In all 110 participants from all parts of the state earned the right to represent their schools. Both Boyer and Wilcox were part of the Central-Eastside team comprised of players from Champaign, Mahomet-Seymour, Tolono Unity, and Tuscola.
Pugh, who just finished her 33rd year, in the sport is one of the winningest coaches in Tuscola history. The long-time coach has not only done damage at East Prairie, she posted two great seasons as the leader of the Lady Warriors with a career record of 39-17.
Her team took the floor three times, opening up with the eventual Classic Championship Central area team comprised of players from the Springfield and Lincoln.
Boyer delivered four points and two assists in the loss to the Central. Wilcox chipped in a bucket and two rebounds. Eastside bounced back with a win the their second skirmish of the day upending a Northwest team 29-20 which was made up of players from the surrounding area near Monmouth and Galva. Boyer drained a three en-route to five points while Wilcox banged the boards corralling four rebounds in the game.
Boyer and Wilcox came up big again in their final outing of the weekend combining for five points, four rebounds, and seven assists, including a play where Boyer found Wilcox on a back door cut for a bucket against a very strong Southwest team. Eastside carried a narrow one-point advantage into the break up on Southwest 29-28 in a back and forth affair, but a late surge by the team from Decatur and East St. Louis proved too much ending the day for Eastside.