Scales Mound boys basketball returns to state for a second-straight year

A state championship this week would be the first title in Scales Mound High School history
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 11:44 PM CST
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SCALES MOUND, Ill. (WIFR) - Joyce Schoenhard has been watching Scales Mound boys basketball for decades and she’s seen her fair share of Hornet teams.

“We’ve followed this team through the good and the bad, there’s been a lot of bad, but the past couple of years have been wonderful,” Schoenhard said.

Before current head coach Erik Kudronowicz took over the team in 2006, success had been few and far between for Scales Mound boys basketball. From 1943 to 2006, the team had won only 36% of its games, no coach had lasted longer than six years, and entering the 2006-07 season, the team was coming off an 0-27 season.

But after years 16 years of hard work, the boys basketball team made it to their first state tournament, where the team earned 3rd place in Class 1A.

“We always thought...that going to State was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Scales Mound senior Charlie Wiegel said.

But earlier this week, the Hornets did a once-in-a-lifetime thing for a second year in a row as Scales Mound topped Marshall in the Super-Sectional Championship to return to Champaign.

And they did it with a brand new starting five.

“The biggest thing from a year ago is the kids were all number two’s that had to push the number one’s and as a coach when you have that sort of once-in-a-lifetime team, you’re not going to leave any stone unturned,” Kudronowicz said. “You’re going to push that group as far as you can push them with the goal of let’s get to the state tournament.”

But the coaching staff was prepared for perhaps a decade that turnover would come.

“The group we have this year followed the same blueprint (as last year’s team), they started in second and third grade and they worked their way up with the fundamental skills that we do in through middle school and high school,” Kudronowicz said, ”These groups when they were kids, they didn’t change much.”

“For us, everyone played together since we were young so everyone had that same chemistry, especially me and Charlie (Wiegel), everyone always asks us ‘how do you steal the ball and know where he’s going to be?’ and that’s from playing with him since he was eight years old, I just know where he’s going to be on the court,” senior Jacob Duerr said.

The style of play has also changed, with a smaller lineup than a year ago the focus was put on getting steals and converting in transition.

“We don’t have the tallest team, we don’t have the most muscular team, but we got a team that just wants it, that’s why we’re back at state again and so anyone who wants it and works at it they can get it,” senior Charlie Wiegel said.

While the team gets ready for their semifinal against Tuscola, Schoenhard is placing big signs at the exit of town in support of the Hornets. And like the team, she knows how to play to her strengths.

“I have very limited talent but I can make a sign,” Schoenhard says while smiling.

Her newest sign reads “antacid tablets = $5, high blood pressure meds = $400, heart attack meds = $700, Hornets Basketball = priceless.”