Hoopeston Area basketball teams kicked-off their long-delayed seasons recently.
The Hoopeston Area High School boys’ basketball team started their season with a match against Chrisman.
The Cornjerkers would fall to Chrisman in a tight game, losing 55-51.
Ben Brown put up 24 points for the Cornjerkers while Chris Catron had 12, Nick Hofer had 11 and Preston Van de Veer had 4.
The Cornjerkers hosted Westville Tuesday night and came up just short, losing 52-40.
Brown had 15 points during the game, while Van de Veer had 13, Catron had 8 and Hofer had four.
The Cornjerkers will travel to take on Salt Fork Feb. 12, host Watseka Feb. 13 and host Schlarman Feb. 16. All games will start at 6 p.m.
The Lady Cornjerkers also started their season with a game against Chrisman.
Hoopeston Area scored a blow-out victory, winning 56-24.
Ali Watson led the team with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Lexie Breymeyer had 16 points. Adasyn Jones put seven points, six assists and five rebounds.
The Lady Cornjerkers hosted Champaign Central Monday night in a heated contest.
After four quarters of back-and-forth action, Hoopeston Area pulled out the 45-41 win.
Watson had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Breymeyer had 11 points.
Hoopeston Area scored another big win when they took on Westville Tuesday night, winning 50-30.
Watson scored 19 points and 14 rebounds and scored her 1,000 career point during the game. Bre Crose had 13 points and four steals during the game.
The Lady Cornjerkers will host Salt Fork Thursday, travel to Watseka Feb. 13 and host Tri-County Feb. 15.
Speaking after his team’s win on Monday, Lady Cornjerkers Head Coach Aaron Fell said he and his team were ecstatic to be back on the court after being delayed for so long by the pandemic.
“I was like a little kid on Christmas when we got the news that we were going to get to have a season and get to play,” he said. “These seniors have worked so hard, battled through adversity, this was going to be our year.”
Fell said they had a senior-led team with a lot of girls coming back so it was going to be their year to do something in the county conference and area.
Due to the pandemic restrictions, Fell said the team hadn’t touched a basketball until two weeks ago and players had just been focused on weight lifting and doing whatever they could on their own time to prepare for the season.
“Two weeks ago, we started hitting it hard,” he said.
Fell said the players responded well to this intense regime of two-and-a-half hour practices.
Fell believes the strengths of his team this season are the seniors: Ali Watson, Lexie Breymyer and Emma Glotzbach.
“We’ve got a good senior-led team, we’ve got one of the best players in the area in Ali Watson, we’ve got a great junior point guard in Adasyn Jones,” he said. “The seniors carry us. This is their year.”
Fell feels that one of the strengths of the team overall this season is its speed.
“We’re a fast team,” he said. “Last year we had more height, this year we’ve got a lot speed so we’re trying to use that as much as we can.”
Overall, Fell said they’re just happy to have a chance to play.
“We’re grateful to have a season,” he said. “These girls have worked so hard.”
Even so, Fell did lament the fact that there won’t be postseason play this year.
“It breaks my heart that we’re not going to have a county, we’re not going to have a regional,” he said. “Because these girls deserve it. They’ve put in the time and the effort. These seniors deserve it. They went through two years of two or three win seasons and this year we’ve got a chance to win a lot of games. They’ve taken everything I’ve asked of them, which is way more than they had to do in the past, way more practice, way more commitments, and they could have just said forget it...they didn’t, they stuck it out and now we’ve got a chance to be really good.”
The Chronicle spoke with Breymeyer, Watson and Glotzbach after Monday’s game and the trio said it felt good to be back on the court.
“It felt so good,” Breymeyer said.
“We can’t stop smiling,” Watson said.
Glotzbach described it as a “cherished moment” and a “blessing.”
While it would be understandable if they were upset about losing out on a chance for a full senior season and the challenges of playing with masks on, the three said they’re just focusing on the positives.
“I think we’ve just been trying to focus on the positives and go one game at a time,” Breymeyer said.
They said their team motto right now is to play every game and possession like it’s their last.