Max Connell drives to the basket past Stillman Valley’s Brandt King during the third quarter of their game in Byron on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Byron won the game 59-48.

By Christopher Johnson


A hot start to the winter campaign welcomed Stillman Valley’s boys basketball team this year. The Cardinals jumped out to a 5-0 record in the early weeks of game play.

However, things changed with success becoming less frequent in the second half of the short season as the level of competition stepped up a notch.

The final week of basketball is being played now with only a few teams thinking they have a shot to claim the only honor that will be available this year, a conference title.

Rockford Lutheran leads the way in the Big Northern and it doesn’t look as though they will change their ways anytime soon. The top ranked Crusaders lead all 2A competition with a perfect 10-0 mark and the State’s number one ranking.

Because of Covid19’s influence there will not be a 2021 post-season featuring boys or girls basketball teams in the State of Illinois. It’s a safety valve put in place by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois High School Association.

Around the State of Illinois, some regions are planning their own style tournaments though. In the greater Chicagoland area some of the strongest citywide, large-school programs are scheduled to face off in mid-March to determine the best-of-the-best.

At the midway point in February, the Cardinals 5-0 record put them in the mix in the race in the conference chase, but a Feb. 17 loss to Genoa-Kingston changed perspective and opened the door to a four-game losing streak.

The Cogs rolled over Stillman Valley by a final score of 66-41 and gave the team its first loss of the 2021 season. Up next was the State’s top-ranked 2A team, Rockford Lutheran.

The Crusaders did what was expected, they pushed the ball up and down the court, picked pockets, passed effectively and took advantage of scoring with the clock stopped.

Rockford Lutheran won by nearly 30 points, giving Stillman Valley it’s second loss of the abbreviated season and effectively taking them out of the hunt in the Big Northern chase.

Up next was Byron as the two teams faced of on Monday, Feb. 22. A shutdown of Byron could have still given the Cardinals one last chance to pursue no less than a tie in the Big Northern.

The Tigers had a different plan and put it into place, coming away with the 59-48 decision. The loss dropped Stillman Valley to 5-3 on the year and gave them a.500 mark in the Big Northern.

This past Wednesday, the streak reached four losses in a row for the Cardinals. Dixon was consistent from the floor in the first half, but pulled away in the third quarter, where the team nearly doubled its entire game output, scoring 27 in the frame.

A 70-59 win by the Dukes dropped Stillman Valley to 5-4 on the year and set up the team’s last chance to end on a positive note.

This week opened with a game at home against the Mendota Trojans on Monday, March 1 and continued on Wednesday in another Big Northern showdown with another Big Northern threat.

Winnebago and Stillman Valley tip-off at 7 p.m., following completion of the junior varsity contest, which should commence shortly after 5pm.

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