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J. Thomas McNamara

     A former Eisenhower basketball player, Tim Allen, was living a dream.
     And then coronavirus struck, turning his dream into a nightmare for him and his Sacred Heart-Griffin Cyclones..
     Allen is in his second season as Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin’s boys basketball head coach, who was all-set to be courtside in Peoria’s Carver Arena coaching his Cyclones in the Class 2A Final Four.
     But then the Illinois High School Association cancelled the Class 1A and 2A state tournaments because of the virus that has crushed the sports world at all levels, prep, college and professionals, including the NCAA tournament and all major conference tournaments, including the Big Ten.
Allen and his Cyclones, along with the other seven teams, already were in Peoria for the tournament games when the IHSA made its announcement late Thursday afternoon, less than 24 hours before the first jump ball was to go up in the first Class 1A semi-final game.
     It would have been the first time SHG had played in the Final Four as it advanced to the Elite Eight in 1948. And that was when there was only one class. Regardless that no games were played, Allen is in the SHG basketball history annals forever as being the first coach to take a either a Cathedral or SHG team to the Final Four.
     And Allen only in his second year as head coach of SHG where he already has posted back-to-back 20-win seasons for only the second time in school history with the legendary Jim Belz being the other.
After handing Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin (BHRA) its first loss, 59-56, of the season, SHG improved its record to 23-13 going into Friday night’s Class 2A semi-finals. BHRA finished the season 34-1.
     In his first season last year, Allen’s Cyclones posted a 20-10 record.
     He’s only the second coach in SHG history to post back-to-back 20 wins seasons. The other is no stranger to Decatur and Macon County basketball fans as Jim Belz was that coach. During the 1962-63 season, Belz’s Cyclones went 20-6 and the next year in 1963-64 his team went 23-4. Those were Belz’s only 20-win seasons as the Griffin coach.
      I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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