TriCounty Named the Most Valuable Player of the National Junior College Division II basketball tournament, Marlena Williams of champion Illinois Central College is a co-Tri County Female Athlete of the Year.
A former Manual High School athlete and sister of former Manual star Frank Williams, honored this year as Male Athlete of the Year, Marlena was also the top vote getter for the NJCAA all-regional team for Region XXIV and the Region XXIV all-tournament team.
She averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds in the national tournament, played in Hagerstown, Md.
Marlena dominated the national tournament. She scored 27 points and had 10 rebounds to pull out a first round win over Kirkwood, 70-69; had 18 points and seven rebounds against Calhoun College of Decatur in a 81-70 semi-final win and then scored 18 points with 12 rebounds to overpower Penn Valley of Kansas City, 72-65.
Averaging only 24 minutes per game in the regular season because many games were won by lopsided scores, Williams still averaged 14 points, shot 49 percent and played outstanding defense.
"Statistics do not tell the true story of Marlena," said coach Lorene Ramsey. "Marlena is a great clutch player capable of carrying an entire team, yet she is also an unselfish player."
Named the Most Valuable Player of the National Junior College Division II basketball tournament, Marlena Williams of champion Illinois Central College is a co-Tri County Female Athlete of the Year.
Larry Leitner was among the state's elite officials for more than 40 years, officiating high school, college and professional sporting events from 1960 through 2003 and he remains involved in sports by serving on the board of directors for the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament, as well as evaluating current officials and moderating IHSA rules clinics.
Among his officiating highlights, Leitner worked more IHSA basketball and football tournament games than any official in the state's history, earning 27 consecutive boys basketball regional assignments. He also worked the IHSA boys basketball state finals in 1973, 1974 and 1976, including the 1976 championship game, and three IHSA football finals, including the first-ever 2A state championship game in 1974. A charter member of the Gateway Conference officiating crew in 1988, Leitner was part of the crew that officiated the 1990 and 1993 NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals and he served as an associate official for the Big Ten Conference from 1984-88.
Leitner also was called upon to officiate two IESA state championship games, the 1990 National Catholic Basketball finals, three Shriner All-Star football games and the 1980 IBCA All-Star Classic, while also working for two seasons in the Midwest Professional Football League.
Leitner is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, Peoria Officials and Bloomington/Normal Officials Halls of Fame.