Every story from Metamora's run to the Class 3A basketball championship

Journal Star

The Metamora Redbirds won the Class 3A boys basketball state championship in 2022-23, the program's first title.

Coach Danny Grieves and the defensive-minded Redbirds — led by first-team all-stater and South Alabama signee Ethan Kizer and Journal Star Player of the Year Tyler Mason — took the State Farm Center court and defeated Chicago Simeon 46-42 on March 11 in Champaign.

Let's take a look back at their run through the 2022-23 regular season and playoffs. Below is every story we've written and tons of the photos from this season involving the No. 1-ranked Redbirds — including preseason prognostications, player profiles, playoff performances and more.

The playoffs

Metamora earned back-to-back trips to the championship game, ending the second as Class 3A state champion. Here are links to each game story and accompanying previews and features along the way.







The regular season

Metamora became the first Mid-Illini Conference team to ascend to the No. 1 ranking statewide, putting an even larger target on their backs as the regular season came to a close. East Peoria was the fourth-ranked team in the 1996 final AP poll. In Washington’s run to the 2008 3A fourth-place finish, the Panthers were ranked No. 7 to end the year. Last season, Metamora finished at 10 before its run to the 3A title game.

Metamora played in plenty of pressure-packed games this season. Included was a rematch with Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in January. “You talk about a great high school basketball atmosphere,” Grieves said. “Postseason atmosphere, for sure."

Metamora this season was inspired in part by Nike Tyson, the daughter of coach Danny Grieves. Tyson, 37, was diagnosed with breast cancer on Aug. 30. As she has undergone treatment, the team has embraced her fight with black shooting shirts with #TYSONTOUGH written on the back and bracelets to honor Tyson and her fight.

Metamora senior Drew Tucker brought increased experience, leadership and strength into his final season with the Redbirds. Adam Duvall wrote about the guard early in the season.

The photos

Here are links to the multiple photo galleries we shot over the course of the 2022-23 season.

The preseason

Expectations were high for Metamora in November when we picked it atop the power rankings for Peoria-area boys basketball teams. The Redbirds were returning four starters from its state runner-up team from 2021-22.

While we previewed all the top Peoria-area teams, we also selected the top players to watch around the area, including a trio of Redbirds players.