Mater Dei High School girls basketball coach David Kohnen has never coached a state tournament game at Redbird Arena in Normal, but he’s coached Mater Dei at the state tournament.
A member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, Kohnen was a first-year head coach in 1990-91 when he guided the Knights to a 27-4 season and a trip to the state finals.
“But that was when they had it at the Assembly Hall in Champaign. It was a long time ago,” Kohnen recalled. “It was different back then because they still had the ‘Elite 8.’ We’ve had some chances since then.”
The Knights will get another chance for their first state tournament trip in 26 years on Monday when they take on Camp Point Central Co-Op at the Class 2A Jacksonville Super-Sectional at Illinois College at 7 p.m.
Camp Point Central (24-3), which defeated Carthage-Illini West 44-34 to win the Waverly Sectional, placed third at the Class 2A State Tournament a year ago after beating then top-ranked Breese Central in the Super-Sectional at Illinois College.
On Monday, the Knights will try to avenge that loss for their city rivals.
“I’ve talked to coach (Central) coach Nathan Rueter about that game. We talk often,” Kohnen said. “They (Camp Point) are a very good, very well-coached basketball team. They have a lot of players back but they also have a couple of new players who have made them even better.
“They are quick and they’ll pressure hard for 32 minutes. We need to be ready.”
Riding a five-game winning streak, Mater Dei has been ready for most of the season. The Knights (20-10) defeated Althoff to win a regional title then used a last-second shot from senior Kelsey Gerdes to edge Sesser-Valier in the sectional semifinals before easing past Nashville 46-25 in the sectional title game Thursday.
Nashville had beaten Mater Dei 44-28 two weeks earlier.
On Sunday, the Knights went through a light practice and had a team breakfast. On Monday, they’ll leave Clinton County in the early afternoon for Jacksonville.
“I think we’re ready. The kids are excited but I don’t think they’re nervous. I expect tomorrow (Monday) afternoon, that may change a little bit,” Kohnen said. “But that’s only natural.”
“They (Camp Point) are going to give us a lot of different looks and how we adjust and respond will be a key to the game. With the way these kids are playing defense right now, we can give them a few things to worry about right now as well.”
One player Mater Dei won’t have to worry about is 6-foot senior Kolby McClelland. Camp Point’s top player, McClelland suffered a knee injury a few weeks ago and is out of the lineup.
Brianna Hildebrand and Laney Lantz combined for 32 points in the Camp Point’s sectional title win.
The winner of the Mater Dei-Camp Point Central Co-Op game will take on either Byron or Sherrard in the Class 2A State Tournament semifinals at 5:30 p.m Friday at Redbird Arena in Normal.
Byron and Sherrard are playing at the Monmouth College Super-Sectional.