Girls basketball: Area coaches finding direction in new posts

St. Bede coach Tom Ptak works on ball-handling skills with campers in the Lady Bruins Basketball Camp. He has returned as the new varsity coach after serving as interim head coach in 2021-22 and previously as an assistant.

While the road back to St. Bede was a familiar one for Tom Ptak, Jon Henegar had to make sure he headed north out of Princeton instead of staying west on Route 34.

After 12 years driving to Kewanee to teach and coach, Henegar has taken over as the girls varsity basketball coach at Bureau Valley High School. He got his new job under way at summer camp recently.

“Yeah, it’s a little different,” Henegar said. “It’s like when you buy a new house you start taking the old route to your old house. I did that a few times when we bought our new house. Did that the other day.”

The 2024 Bureau Valley Girls Basketball Camp session for grades 2-5.

The Bureau Valley camp drew about 46 campers broken down into sessions for grades 2-5 and 6-12.

“The turnout was really good. All four days we had a lot ot of good energy. I definitely think we got better every day and I think they had a lot of fun. That’s kind of the whole point,” Henegar said.

Jon Henegar, 34, a varsity boys basketball 
 assistant at Kewanee High School, has been named as the new varsity girls basketball coach at Bureau Valley. He is a 2008 Princeton High School coach.

The new Storm coach said he’s getting off to a good start with his team and players.

“I have been really impressed with the work ethic and how they respond to coaching early on,” he said. “It’s always tough in the summer because we have quite a girls playing softball. We’ve got some girls that went on a trip to DC, but overall we’ve had really good numbers this summer, getting better and the girls are learning the system and all that.”

The 2024 Bureau Valley Girls Basketball Camp session for grades 6-12.

The Storm will play a few games at Williamsfield on Saturday and wrap up their summer season next week with games at Sterling on Monday, June 24 and Wednesday, June 26 and team camp at Bradley University in Peoria on Friday, June 28.

Henegar will teach junior high social studies at Bureau Valley. His wife, Margaret, teaches fourth grade in the Bureau Valley district.

Ptak is returning to St. Bede as the varsity girls basketball coach having served as interim coach in 2021-22 and previously as an assistant. He said he was retiring for good, but that didn’t last long.

“I was dead set (on retiring). I guess never say never, right?” he said with a laugh.

Ptak, who was also head women’s coach at IVCC, said it’s exciting to coach with assistants Lexie Marx and Maddie Dougherty, two of his former players when he coached at IVCC.

“Lexie’s been using the word mentor and I fell for it,” he said. “She’s doing a lot of the things in the background and she teaches out there. That helps communication wise. Lexie’s into it. She wants to coach. Perfect (combination).”

The Bruins held their annual camp earlier in the month and wrapped up their summer season this week with games at Ottawa, finishing with an even 3-3 record.

The Bruins graduated two key starters from last year’s Class 1A state team in all-stater Ali Bosnich and Ella Hermes, who combined for 37 points in the their 64-56 loss to Altamont in the third-place game.

They’ll return senior Ashlyn Ehm and juniors Lily Bosnich and Lili McClain from their state starting lineup, along with reserves Savannah Bray and Quinn McClain. Ehm scored eight points and Bray added six in the 44-30 semifinal loss to Okawville.

“There’s some talent there with the McClain sisters (Lili and Quinn) and obviously Lily Bosnich. I’m really impressed with Ashlyn Ehm. She’s a hustler,” Ptak said. “The summer time gives me the opportunity to see what they can do. I’m glad I can at least see them play.”

Girls state to remain in Normal through 2029

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA), Illinois State University (ISU), and the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau announced on June 18, 2024, that they have reached a five-year contract extension for the IHSA Girls Basketball State Finals to remain at CEFCU Arena on the ISU campus in Normal through the 2029 state tournament.”

Horton Fieldhouse on the ISU campus hosted the inaugural IHSA Girls Basketball State Finals in 1977. The tourney then moved to Champaign for a little over a decade, before returning to ISU’s then Redbird Arena in 1992, where it has remained ever since.

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