Hales prevails: Spartans claim Class 2A title

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Hales prevails: Spartans claim Class 2A title

Sunday, March 13, 2011
12:20 a.m.

By Steve Tucker
Yourseason.com

PEORIA Call it two the hard way for Hales Franciscan.

To win its second state titles, Hales had to knock off two unbeaten teams in just over 24 hours and the Spartans did, capped by a 61-47 victory over Murphysboro in the Class 2A championship game Saturday night at Carver Arena.

It feels great, Hales coach Gary London said. These guys have been focused since the start of the season. This is what they wanted, and all I can say now is, mission accomplished.

For Hales (29-4), this state title served as redemption after the Spartans were upset in last years semifinals and finished third.

This is great, and its something Ive wanted for four years, Hales senior Aaron Armstead said. After last year to come back and get it done is the best feeling in the world.

We knew that (Murphysboro) would make its runs, but we weathered the storm and pulled through.

After Murphysboro (35-1) closed to within 32-31 early in the third quarter, the Spartans used an 8-0 tear to go up 40-31 before Orlando Jarrett made two free throws for the Red Devils with 1:32 to play in the quarter. In the Hales run, Aaric Armstead scored four and Cameron Johnson and Eddie Alcantara two each.

Hales started the fourth quarter with a run-out slam by Aaric Armstead, a free throw by Jerry Humphrey and a tip by Dominique Walls to go ahead 47-35 before two Muphysboro baskets by Pierre House.

Aaric Armstead led the Spartans with 18 points. Alcantara had 15 and nine rebounds, and Aaron Armstead added 12 points for Hales. Murphysboro got 16 points from Jarrett and 11 from House, who fouled out. Hales also forced 18 turnover while committing 11.

Winning this means everything to us, Alcantara said. Especially after all the running we had to do to get ready for this.

After Hales went up 8-5 on a three-pointer by Aaric Armstead, the Red Devils closed the first quarter and opened the second with a 10-2 run to go up 15-10. Four players scored for Muphysboro with Jerrod Stanton getting four points and Eben Brooks, Dylan Craig and House each adding a basket. Alcantara had Hales lone basket.

But down 19-16, an Alcantara three-pointer ignited a 10-0 burst for the Spartans, who went up 26-19. Aaron Armstead scored five in the run, including a three-point play, and Aaric Armstead, whose powerful slam early in the second quarter that appeared to inject fire in Hales, had a basket.

Murphysboro got within 26-23 before an Alcantara slam sent the Spartans to the break up 28-23.

The teams came to the state finals ranked 1-2 in the state in Class 2A. Murphysboro was No. 1 but Hales had seven votes for No. 1 to three for the Red Devils, who on Friday made their fourth state appearance since 1947 and won their first game. It was Hales fifth trip. The Spartans won Class A in 2003 finished second in 1993 and third last year.

Rockford Christian (32-1) got 29 points from Brayden Teuscher and 12 from Art Ford in a 44-38 victory over Pittsfield for third place. Brad Hamilton scored 14 for the Saukees (28-7).

Jimmy Butler acknowledges 'huge accomplishment' but stays nonchalant about All-Star starter nod

Jimmy Butler acknowledges 'huge accomplishment' but stays nonchalant about All-Star starter nod

ATLANTA — Jimmy Butler insisted being a starter in the All-Star Game means next to nothing, but it seems to go against his never-ending battle for credibility and validation as a legit superstar.

Moments after it was revealed he would be an All-Star starter for the first time and make his third overall trip to All-Star weekend, he sang the same nonchalant tune.

"It hasn't changed at all," Butler said on a conference call Thursday evening. "Obviously, it's a huge accomplishment and honor to be named a starter. But it's All-Star weekend. There are going to be a lot of good players there. I guess it's just another name thrown in with some decent players."

The NBA's format for selecting the All-Star starters changed this season, with fans no longer being the sole group that gets to vote for starters. If it was still a fans-only vote, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid would've started in Butler's place.

But with the new formula that allows the media and the players to take part in the vote, the fan vote accounts for just 50 percent of the formula. So Butler joined Cleveland's LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Milwaukee's Giannis Antekounmpo and Toronto's DeMar DeRozan in the starting five for the Eastern Conference.

Butler's is averaging 24.8 points with 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists, career-highs across the board, and had he not been selected as a starter, the Bulls' 20-21 record would not have prevented coaches from selecting him as a reserve as they had the last two seasons.

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He won't be joined in the starting lineup by Dwyane Wade, who finished second in backcourt voting behind Irving, but cast his vote for his teammate anyway and hopes Wade will be selected as a reserve.

"Of course. He's been a huge part of what we're doing here, and I think he has played extremely well the first part of the season," Butler said. "He got my vote. I will tell you that."

Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will start for the West, along with Houston's James Harden, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and New Orleans' Anthony Davis, a Chicago native.

The fun-filled and busy weekend in New Orleans begins Feb. 17, from the league events to the parties to the festivities and then finally the All-Star Game on Sunday night.

Butler likely views it as more of an accomplishment for his team of trainers and confidants then himself.

"It's fun, man. You get to know the other really good players in the league, and you get to know a little bit about them," Butler said. "And the experience that you get to be a part of, whether it be the Jordan party or taking your guys with you everywhere. That's the most fun part for me, my trainers, my brothers, everybody that's behind the scenes helping me gets to experience it too."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bulls build around All-Star Jimmy Butler?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bulls build around All-Star Jimmy Butler?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Jimmy Butler is an All-Star starter. Is he a superstar now meaning the Bulls have to build around him? The guys pose that question to Bulls great Horace Grant.

The Raiders want to move to Las Vegas. If your NFL team moved, should you keep rooting for them? Plus should the Cubs help Sammy Sosa out as his Hall of Fame chances get smaller?

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below.