The E-Rabs’ state semfinal game against Evanston isn’t until Friday evening, but the E-Rabs’ historic state experience began on Thursday afternoon.
They arrived at Carver Arena and got some buiness taken care of with the IHSA, including that must-have keepsake team photo. The E-Rabs were then turned loose on the court for about half an hour for a shootaround. It’s an important step in getting the guys acclimated to the environment, the rims, and help chase away some early butterflies.
“It’s great that they do this,” East’s Head Coach Roy Sackmaster said.” I’m really happy that we’re able to get in here, kind of get acclimated to it a little bit because tomorrow is going to be a whole different feel… a whole different buzz in here. For us to get in here and kind of get familiar with it and have an idea of the lay of the land around, I think that it’s only going to benefit us.”
For the players, the feeling of knowing they’ve made it to state for the first time in 41 years continues to sink in – especially for the seniors.
“I’m feeling mixed emotions,” East’s senior forward Sha’den Clanton described. “I feel happy, I don’t know. I’m feeling really happy right now. It’s a blessing that we made it. I feel like we’re going to take this one home.”
“The adrenalin is kicking in, but I’m just trying to be focused and just get mentally prepared for the game,” East’s senior guard Chris Burnell said. “I’ve just got to stay locked-in and be ready.”
East’s junior forward Sincere Parker dropped 27 points in the super-sectional win against Geneva on Monday. Parker could go off again on Friday, but he knows he has to remain focused.
“I know I just have to stay level-headed and just keep a positive attitude and stay optimistic at what we do and we’ve got this,” Parker said.
East takes on Evanston in the semifinals on Friday at 5:30 PM at the Carver Arena in Peoria. The E-Rabs are aiming for their first state championship title in 63 years.