In their own words: Players sum up CSE coach Matt Long’s impact after he reaches 600-victory plateau during regular season

Central-Southeastern girls basketball coach Matt Long became the 16th coach in Illinois High School Association history to record 600 career victories. | Matt Schuckman photo

CAMP POINT, Ill. — During the 25-2 regular-season record the state-ranked Central-Southeastern girls basketball team compiled, a milestone moment occurred that allowed current and former Panthers to celebrate the impact of their coach. Matt Long, who has been at the helm since the 1993-94 season, won the 600th game of his career, becoming just the…

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Central-Southeastern climbs out of 16-point hole, forces 39 turnovers by Deer Creek-Mackinaw in OT victory

Central-Southeastern's Lauren Miller goes between two Deer Creek-Mackinaw players for a shot during Saturday's high school girls basketball game at the Midwest Athletic Center in Jacksonville. | Photo courtesy of Mike Pritchard

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. – Central-Southeastern girls coach Matt Long was singing “What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been” as he entered his victorious locker room at the Midwest Athletic Center on Saturday night. His teenage players probably didn’t know the song or the artist the lyric was from (“Truckin’” by the Grateful Dead), but the result…

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‘I knew we weren’t going to give up’: Central-Southeastern overcomes 16-point deficit to repeat as State Farm Holiday Classic champs

Members of the Central-Southeastern girls basketball team celebrate after receiving the gold ball trophy for winning the small school girls bracket of the State Farm Holiday Classic in the Shirk Center in Bloomington, Ill. | David Adam photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Central-Southeastern girls basketball team is becoming pretty good at playing from behind. Eleven days ago, the Panthers trailed Quincy Notre Dame 27-2 but had two chances to win the game in a 35-31 loss. Twenty-four hours before playing in the small school girls bracket championship at the State Farm Holiday Classic,…

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C-SE girls burn most of final five minutes off clock, move into title game at State Farm Holiday Classic

Central-Southeastern's Karly Peters drives to the basket while being guarded by Angel Dickerson from Kankakee Bishop McNamara during Friday's semifinal game in the small school girls bracket in the State Farm Holiday Classic at the Shirk Center in Bloomington. | David Adam photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — High school basketball fans clamoring for a shot clock would not have enjoyed the final five minutes of Central-Southeastern’s 39-25 victory over Kankakee Bishop McNamara in the semifinals of the small school girls bracket in the State Farm Holiday Classic on Friday night at the Shirk Center. Once the Panthers built their…

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‘We wanted to be ticks on their belly buttons’: CSE dominant defensively in second half of quarterfinal victory

Central-Southeastern's Lauren Miller, right, dribbles past Stanford Olympia's Grace Carter during Thursday afternoon's girls basketball game in the small school girls bracket of the State Farm Holiday Classic at Bloomington High School. | David Adam photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Central-Southeastern coach Matt Long knew some people might think he was trying to be funny, but when it comes to girls basketball, he’s usually quite serious. “We told (the Panthers) we wanted to be ticks on their belly buttons,” Long said after his team’s 60-26 victory over Stanford Olympia in the quarterfinals…

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CSE notches record-tying 30th victory in 62-26 sectional semifinal blowout of Staunton

Central-Southeastern's Tori Fessler, right, defends Staunton's Ele Feldmann during Tuesday night's Class 2A girls basketball sectional semifinal game at Pleasant Plains High School. | David Adam

PLEASANT PLAINS, Ill. — Well, that didn’t take very long. Central-Southeastern had all but secured a Class 2A girls basketball sectional semifinal victory over Staunton before some patrons had found their seats Tuesday night at Pleasant Plains High School. CSE scored the first 18 points of the game, which quickly turned the contest into a…

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CSE survives another nail-biter, upsets No. 2-ranked PORTA on its home floor to win regional

Central-Southeastern's Lauren Miller, left, and Brilyn Lantz celebrate after the buzzer sounded to end Thursday night's Class 2A girls basketball regional championship game in Petersburg, Ill. | Photo courtesy of Mike Pritchard

PETERSBURG, Ill. — Matt Long admittedly ran the full gamut of emotions Thursday night. “I felt like I went from about being ready to black out to relaxing on a yacht,” said Long, the girls basketball coach at Central-Southeastern. More than 15 minutes after CSE’s 31-28 nail-biting victory in the Class 2A regional championship over…

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Central-Southeastern slays another monster in winning State Farm Holiday Classic championship

Central-Southeastern’s Tori Fessler explodes with joy after the final buzzer as the Panthers beat top-seeded Paris 36-32 to win the championship of the State Farm Holiday Classic on Friday at the Shirk Center in Bloomington, Ill. | Photo courtesy Clark Brooks, PhotoNews Media

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Central-Southeastern girls basketball coach Matt Long referred to top-seeded Paris as “a monster.” Consider his squad the beast slayers then. The Panthers completed a remarkable run to the State Farm Holiday Classic championship Friday afternoon, making 5 of 6 free throws in the final 18.2 seconds to hand the Tigers their first…

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Lockdown defense carries Central-Southeastern into State Farm Holiday Classic title tilt

Central-Southeastern's Brilyn Lantz rips the ball away from Brimfield's Kylee Vaugh during their semifinal game of the State Farm Holiday Classic on Thursday at Normal Community High School. | Photo courtesy Clark Brooks. PhotoNews Media

NORMAL, Ill. — Because of the widespread success of the Central-Southeastern girls basketball players across all sports, it’s easy to forget how youthful the Panthers are. “I know,” C-SE coach Matt Long said. Still, a majority of the time, C-SE has three sophomores, sometimes four, on the floor. That makes this week’s run to the…

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After loss in State Farm quarterfinals, Central-Southeastern coach questions if Winnebago is top Class 2A team in state

Central-Southeastern's Summer Ramsey is trapped on the baseline and surrounded by, from left, Winnebago's Annika Bielskis, Renee Rittmeyer and Campbell Shrank during Tuesday's quarterfinal game at Bloomington High School in the small-school bracket of the State Farm Holiday Classic. | David Adam

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Central-Southeastern coach Matt Long has a pretty good idea of what a good Class 2A girls basketball looks like. He guided the Panthers to third-place and fourth-place finishes at the state tournament in 2016 and 2017. So after his team lost 33-21 to Winnebago, ranked No. 1 in the latest Class 2A…

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After forcing 29 turnovers in victory over Stanford Olympia, C-SE girls earn shot at No. 1-ranked Winnebago

Freshman Lauren Miller puts pressure on a Stanford Olympia player during Central-Southeastern's first-round game on Monday during the State Farm Holiday Classic at Normal Community High School. | David Adam

NORMAL, Ill. — Central-Southeastern gets a crack on Tuesday against Winnebago, the No. 1 seed in the small-school girls bracket at the State Farm Holiday Classic and the No. 1-ranked team in the Class 2A state poll. Don’t be surprised if the Panthers throw a scare at the undefeated Indians. C-SE forced 29 turnovers in…

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