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Top sports stories of 2020, No. 8: The final run for Central A&M boys basketball's Big 3
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Top sports stories of 2020, No. 8: The final run for Central A&M boys basketball's Big 3

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MOWEAQUA — The 2019-20 high school boys basketball season saw the end of a remarkable run by the Central A&M's boys basketball team.

Though the Raiders' hopes for a second straight trip to state were ruined in a loss to Goreville in the super-sectional, the team's core — seniors Connor Heaton, Griffin Andricks and Jacob Paradee — along with a talented supporting crew brought the program the program's most successful stretch ever. In three years, the group — coached by Rob Smith — had an 85-17 record, three consecutive sectional titles and a third-place finish at the Class 1A state tournament in the 2018-19 season. 

Heaton, a two-time All-State selection and Central A&M's all-time leading scorer, could take over any game at a moment's notice. Heaton led the Raiders with 21.0 points per game and added 8.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.3 steals in his senior campaign. 

Andricks averaged 19.0 points and 10.5 rebounds for the Raiders and was the best 3-point threat in the area, hitting 46.3 percent of his shots from behind the arc. Paradee led the Raiders in assists with 5.1 per game as well as averaging 11.9 points. He joined Andricks and Heaton in the 1,000 career point club this season as well. 

The 2020 COVID-related cancellations also robbed fans of the opportunity to see Heaton, Andricks and Paradee playing at the next level in 2020. Heaton committed to play basketball at Illinois Wesleyan but the CCIW season was pushed back to January of 2021. Paradee choose football at North Central College, the defending NCAA Division III national champions, and will get to hit the field when CCIW football begins in the spring. Andricks committed to Olivet Nazarene University and could get some minutes when play begins again in 2021. 


Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten

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