The victory moved the Warriors to 19-3 overall during a season in which Van Buren spent time ranked in the top 10 in Class 1A, reaching as high as sixth midway through the season. It is not lost on Parsons that same core group of players creating this success are coming off a six-month swing of incredible play together in other Van Buren athletic uniforms.
“We’re kind of on a roll right now. The school’s on a pretty good high note,” Saunders said. “We’re all like family. We all go out there and play hard for each other and for ourselves. It’s a whole group effort. We play like a family out there.”
“It’s the same kids that play all the sports. It’s a group of nice kids, but also very competitive kids,” Parsons added. “They’re a good group to coach.”
Blaine Gretter led Sigourney with 13 points in the loss, which brings a rebuilding season for the Savages at 7-16. One year after winning a district title and coming within one win of a 1A State Tournament berth, Eslick hopes this year on the hardwood can help Sigourney regain some of that winning form in the near future.
“We won four of our last five coming into this game and I felt like we were playing some of our best basketball of the year so far,” Eslick said. “We didn’t really show it in this game, but the level of competition makes a difference. We lost five starters and we knew this would be a rebuilding year. I think we’ve got a good nucleus to build around for next year.”
Van Buren, meanwhile, will face either Twin Cedars or Fairfield Maharishi on Tuesday night in Centerville at 6:30 p.m. Winning that game would put the Warriors within two wins of state and could set up a huge area showdown for the district title in Bloomfield next Thursday against SEISC North champ Pekin.