The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) named two Central A&M basketball coaches among the 2020 Coaches of the Year.

Tom Dooley, the Central A&M girls basketball coach, and Rob Smith, the Central A&M boys basketball coach were both named among the Top 25 Illinois basketball coaches in Class A for this past year.

Dooley led the Raider girls to another 20-win this season (22-9). They finished as the Arthur 1A Regional Champions and were a Casey 1A Sectional semifinalist.

Smith led the Raider boys to a 30-win season (30-4) making the Elite 8 for the 3rd year in a row, after placing 3rd in the State in 2019.

Dooley has coached the Raider girls since 2010 (9 years) to a record of 236-65. They were 4th in the state in 2014, won a state title in 2015 and followed that with a state runner-up honor in 2016.

They were sectional semifinalists in 2017 and regional finalists against Paige Robinson and Okaw Valley in 2018. In 2019. they were sectional semifinalists. This year they were sectional semifinalists again. Dooley led the girls to 7 regional titles in 8 years.

Central A&M girls had their star player, senior Channing Reed named as IBCA 3rd Team All-State for the 2nd year in a row. Reed scored 1114 career points (6th in school history) and 892 career rebounds (3rd in school history).

Coach Smith has 16 years as a head coach, including two years at Sullivan, three years at Niantic-Harristown and 11 years at A&M. His overall record is 244-188. His record at A&M is 189-132.

He led the Raiders to a super-sectional (Elite 8) in 2018 (22-9), to 3rd in the state in 2019 (33-4), and another super-sectional (Elite 8) this season (30-4).

Central A&M boys had 3 all-state players this year. Connor Heaton was 1st Team, Jacob Paradee was 2nd Team, and Griffin Andricks was 3rd Team.

The Central A&M boys basketball team (30-4) was Raider strong once again this year, making the Elite 8 for the 3rd year in a row, after placing 3rd in the State in 2019.

Once again, the Raiders were led by a 3-headed, whack-a-mole offense that ran most opponents out of the gym. They were led in scoring by 3 Central Illinois Conference 1st Team athletes, 1st Team All-Stater senior Connor Heaton, senior Griffin Andricks and senior Jacob Paradee.

Connor Heaton led the team in scoring with 735 points (21.6 ppg). Andricks followed with 633 points (18.6 ppg). Paradee scored 405 points (11.9 ppg). They accounted for 73.8% of the Raider’s points (2405).

The Raider boys won their first 8 games through with the first game of the Effingham Teutopolis Christmas Classic. They beat 3A Charleston 64-56. Then they took their first loss against 3A Champaign Centennial (17-14), 46-40. They bounced back beating 3A Effingham, 75-51. Then they lost again, this time to 2A Pleasant Plains (28-5), 69-57.

Standing at 9-2, they won the next 15 games, before losing to St. Anthony by a single point at St. Anthony, 50-49. A&M won the next 5 games, including the Meridian Regional Championship and the sectional semifinal.

They were 29-3 when the had a rematch with St. Anthony in the Casey Sectional final. They got revenge with a 14-point win, 57-43. A&M was 30-3 as they met Goreville at Super-Sectional for the 2nd time in 3 years. They lost, again, 71-64.

A&M finished 30-4, the undefeated conference champs (8-0) and the CIC Tourney champs. The were regional and sectional champions, and super-sectional finalists for the 3rd year in a row.

As a team, the Raiders had a positive assist to turnover ratio. Of 13 players, 8 had positive assist to turnover ratios. Their team assist to turnover ratio was +1.32.

The Raider girls started the season with a win, then lost 3 of the next games as Reed was injured. They then went on a 10-game win streak. They lost to Altamont, the team that ended their season the previous year at sectional.

They won six of the next 10 games, then 6 straight, up to the sectional semifinal. They lost that game to Altamont.

John Curtis can be reached at

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