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J. Thomas McNamara

     None of these MacArthur girls were born yet when a Decatur public high school girls team last advanced to a super-sectional. In 1983-84 the late Ida Brooks, led by her eventual two DPS61 Hall of Famers–Kim Harris and Dawn Pitman, took the Eisenhower Panthers to the super-sectional where they bowed out to Peoria Richwoods.

     Michael Williams and his lady Generals are chasing history as they continue to write new chapters on their historical run this season. They were ranked ninth in a wire service poll last week and have won 14 straight after their Saturday afternoon, 77-31, win over inter-city rival Eisenhower. And they are undefeated in Central State 8 play and one of their two setbacks came at the hands of state-ranked Simeon.

     Fans who have seen them play say they are fun to watch. Make it to Redbird Arena and they will become the first Decatur public school to play in a girls state championship tournament. And they also would become the school’s first, boys or girls, state tournament basketball team in history since the school opened in 1957.

     No MacArthur boys team has ever made it to state either and that’s because they always had to run through Gay Kintner, John Schneiter and Jack Kenny, and Tom Crews’ teams as well as those from the Champaign and Springfield areas after winning regionals. Generals boys assistant coach Tarise Bryson knows all about that since he played guard on the first of the two undefeated regular season DPS 61 boys teams that lost in overtime to Springfield in the Lincoln Sectional when Clark Barnes coached the Senators. Ironically, after Barnes retired from there, he came over here to coach the Generals several years before retiring for good.

     The other undefeated regular season team was the Lewis Jackson and Jeremy Robinson-led Eisenhower Panthers before they fell to Champaign Central in the Mount Zion sectional. Collectively, these MacArthur girls have their sights set on Redbird Arena where the Class 3A state tournament will be played and a champion determined. They want to come back home from Normal with one of the four trophies, preferably the big one with state champions on it.

     They are led by 1,000 point scorer Quincenia Jackson, who along with her teammates, want to go where no other public school team has gone–the girls state tournament in early March in Redbird Arena. Before Jackson’s career ends in the spring of 2021 she may become a double double achiever with more than 1,000 points and more than 1000 rebounds as the graduated Eisenhower Seven Sassano did. By the time the post-season begins MacArthur will have a second 1,000 point scorer on the court in Eisenhower transfer, Jurnee Flournoy.

     Their goals are reachable if they continue to listen to Coach Williams and play hard from opening tipoff to final horn. These girls have some unfinished business when it comes to state tournament time as they bowed out in last year’s sectional first round, two wins away from Redbird Arena. They’re young as sophomores and juniors, along with their seniors, who provide depth to Coach Williams team. These seniors know what it is like to lose and see those losses mount, but all that changed when Williams arrived. Jackson and Taya Davis are the lady Generals top two scorers with Flournoy third and Ariana Riley fourth. Jackson has 358 through the games played Friday, Jan. 24, Davis 276, Flournoy 164 and Riley 104. Flournoy is the only senior among the group with Jackson and Davis juniors and Riley a sophomore, who also transferred to MacArthur from Eisenhower where she was a varsity starter.

     Their hoped for trip to Redbird begins at home in less than a month in their own regional. Nothing like starting your post-season in the friendly confines of your own gym and before your loyal fans.

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