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ALTON - The seventh-grade girls' basketball team at Alton Middle School has picked up from where it left off last season when the Junior Redbirds went 23-0 and won the Illinois Elementary School Association Class 4A championship last year in a 56-48 win over Shorewood Troy at Bolingbrook Brooks Middle School.

The Junior Redbirds are now 22-0 after winning the regional at Bethalto Trimpe Middle School, winning over Edwardsville Lincoln in the semifinal 45-10 Nov. 25, and taking the regional title Nov. 26 with a 28-17 win over Edwardsville Liberty. Then on Wednesday evening, Alton won its second consecutive sectional crown with a 49-28 win over East St. Louis Clark in a game also played at Trimpe Middle, and go into the state finals with a 47-game winning streak.

Proctor, a very talented point guard, currently leads the team in scoring with a 20 points-per-game average, and also has between five to 10 assists, along with over four steals per game. She's joined by Jarious Powers, a 5' 11" forward, who averages about 12 points-per-game, along with Talia Norman, a 6' 1" transfer from St. Louis, who's averaged 15 points-per-game. In the semifinal against Lincoln, Proctor led the Junior Redbirds with 18 points, while Norman added 12 points, and Powers scored 10 points.

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And in addition, and most importantly, the team has also achieved well in the classroom. Head coach Jeff Harris places a strong emphasis on academics, and both Kiyoko Proctor and Jarious Powers are straight-A students.

In the sectional win over Clark, the Junior Redbirds jumped out on a 13-0 lead to get things started, and led at halftime 27-2. Proctor led the way for Alton with 14 points, nine assists and six steals, while Norman scored 13 points and Powers had 10, with both players having 14 rebounds between the two of them. Lacy chipped in with eight points, three assists and two steals, all in a very dominant first half.

In addition, Powers and Norman get close to a double-double every game, with both getting eight to 10 rebounds, and three to five blocks per game. Also making a big contribution is sixth-grader Kaylee Lacy, who averages six points-per-game, and is also a defensive specialist for the Junior Redbirds.

Proctor is the key player for the team, and is an outside threat as well, hitting on eight three-point shots in a regular-season game. Proctor's sharpshooting gives the Redbirds an added dimension to their offense. And the winning streak and the possibility of back-to-back state titles has been a big motivating factor for the Junior Redbirds this season.

The IESA state finals are once again set for Brooks Middle School, with the Junior Redbirds going up against Oak Prairie Middle School of Lockport in the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. Should Alton win, they'll face the winner of Taylorville Junior High and Markham Prairie Hills in the second semifinal that evening at 6 p.m. The final is set for Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

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