PINCKNEYVILLE -- As Pinckneyville embarks on its quest for a fourth state championship, its semifinal opponent will certainly provide a big challenge on Friday.
In more ways than one.
Winnebago, near Freeport in the northwest corner of Illinois, comes into Peoria with a massive 29-2 record after knocking off Chicago-Corliss, 58-55, at the NIU Super-Sectional in DeKalb.
The Indians also feature a mountain of a man in the middle -- 6-foot-9 center Andrew Morrissey -- to go along with credible guard play.
Morrissey tallied 23 points in Tuesday's win. And he is not a one-dimensional player. He can hit the outside shot when the opportunity arises.
By comparison, the Panthers don't have a starter taller than 6-foot-2. They do, however, get plenty of contributions from reserve post player Tanner Spihlmann, who stands 6-foot-6.
Pinckneyville will counter Winnebago's size advantage with quickness, precision shooting and passing, as well as tenacious defense.
Senior forward Grant Jausel, senior point guard J.C. Moll and sophomore sharpshooter Dawson Yates will likely provide the bulk of the offense.
Senior Kyle Luke and sophomore Devin Kitchen are the other probable starters for a Panthers team that has posted a 31-3 overall record.
"They have two really good guards around (Morrissey) and they like to go seven or eight men deep," Pinckneyville coach Bob Waggoner said. "It's a really good matchup in styles and should be a good ballgame."
Pinckneyville advanced to the Final Four at Bradley's Carver Arena this weekend by virtue of an overtime win over Mount Carmel Tuesday.
Waggoner's coaching counterpart is Joe Murphy, who has been at the helm at Winnebago for 31 years, amassing 666 wins. This marks his fifth state tournament appearance.
Waggoner said the Panthers will continue to rely on what got them to Peoria, adding that if they stick to the game plan, they should have a good chance to advance to Saturday's championship game.
"This (state tourney) has been our goal all year, and for some of these guys, it's been their goal their whole lives," he said. "We just have to believe and keep moving forward.
"I think that this team has a feeling of a team of destiny, and they are just ready to go out there and play."
Tipoff for the Panthers and Indians is 5:30 p.m. Friday at Carver Arena in Peoria.