Forest Trail basketball team brings home state championship
By Terrance Peacock Correspondent February 28, 2014 2:58PM
The Forest Trail School eighth grade boys basketball team poses for a picture Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, following an assembly that celebrated there 2014 IESA State Championship.
Updated: April 3, 2014 6:47AM
Last season, Forest Trail School in Park Forest’s seventh-grade boys basketball team fell just short of winning the Illinois Elementary Sports Association Championship, as the team finished in third place.
With most of its players back this season, Forest Trail’s eighth grade boys basketball team had one goal in mind, finish what they started last season. The team did just that as they finished with a 31-1 record and brought home the 2014 IESA Championship.
Forest Trail School celebrate the team’s state championship victory at an assembly on Thursday with students, teachers, parents, and school board members all in attendance. The basketball players received their trophies, which capped off what was an impressive two-year run as a team.
With this year’s run along with their 26-2 record from a season ago, coach George Friel said this group of players became a once-in-a-lifetime team.
“To go 57-3 in two years is unheard of,” Friel said. “There’s no junior high team that will repeat what this team here did.”
Vashawn Sims, the team’s point guard, said after finishing third last season, the team needed to win it all this season to boost the player’s confidence heading into high school. He said he will be attending Marian Catholic in the fall.
Sims said the main difference between last year’s third place team and this year’s championship team was its confidence.
“A lot of people stepped up from last year,” Sims said. “Some people when we were down state got scared and curled up. This year, we just kept our heads up and kept playing.”
Friel said many high school coaches have watched this team play and most of the players are multiple-sport athletes.
“There’s one or two kids that you will probably hear about that are wearing basketball jerseys right now that will probably be a state champ in another sport because they all have the work ethic out on the field and out on the court,” Friel said.
Friel said he has coached multiple schools in his career, but he has never coached another team with as big of a scoring differential than this year’s Forest Trail team.
“I have coached at Prarie Hills, I’ve coached at Bloom and I have coached at Hillcrest, this team here has the largest victory margin of any team I have ever coached,” Friel said. “They have a victory margin of 28.7 per game. That is what they beat their opponents by.”