Troy Middle School teachers Serena Cruz and Matthew Stortz have been named District 9 Coaches of the Year by the Illinois Basketball Coaches’ Association – Cruz for 8th grade girls’ basketball and Stortz for 7th grade girls’ basketball.

“I am so privileged to work alongside these amazing coaches,” Troy Director of Athletics Meagan DeGroot said. “The passion that Serena and Matt have to see their athletes excel in basketball is amazing. It makes me proud to see both of these coaches hold a high standard on the court, but also, to see these students have the high GPAs that they do is truly spectacular.”

This was the second year in a row the 8th grade girls took the title of IESA 4A State Champions under the leadership of Cruz, and the second year she was named Coach of the Year. The Troy Trojans beat the East St. Louis Lincoln Middle School Tigers 44-41 at this year’s state finals game in December.

The team advanced to the championship game after defeating Rochester Junior High School 44-11 on December 8, following their 42-35 victory over Liberty Junior High School in the Sectional Championship game.

“It’s an honor to be recognized two years in a row,” Cruz said. “To be honest, the players made my job super easy. They listened, worked hard and did everything that was asked of them. These girls made Troy history, and it is something I will never forget. Congratulations to Mr. Stortz as well. The energy he brings to the sideline is incredible. He can change the momentum of the game with just one ‘here we go.’ I look forward to working with him for many years to come.”

Stortz led the 7th grade girls team this year to a 26-4 record, placing 2nd in the state after playing undefeated Alton for the IESA Class 4A state title game. The team won its sectional title when it beat Mokena.

“It’s very nice to get the recognition,” Stortz said, “but truly, I am lucky to be part of such a wonderful girls basketball program here at Troy Middle School. The successes we’ve had are a testament to the hard work these athletes put in to be successful. Working with Coach Cruz, also a Coach of the Year award winner, has been wonderful. I’ve learned a lot from her and I look forward to the future successes of our program and Troy Athletics.”

Troy Middle School’s 2018 7th grade girls’ basketball coach Mark Peter was named District 9 Coach of the Year by the Illinois Basketball Coaches’ Association last year.

The IBCA awards recognize coaches, players and referees based on success of season, tournament victories, finishing place in conference and end of season.