The courtship between Paxton-Buckley-Loda and the Illini Prairie Conference has been going on for many years and when the opportunity first came up, basketball coach Adam Schonauer saw a great opportunity for the Ford County school district.
Coach Schonauer was not as vocal about taking advantage of the invitation to the Illini Prairie the first time around as he was early in his tenure, but this time, he spoke up and pushed hard for the school to be apart of the league that stretches from the Champaign area, to Bloomington and up north of Peoria.
PBL already has a number of Illini Prairie Conference teams on their schedule. Coach Schonauer says there's a natural, budding rivalry with Monticello forming, Rantoul is a natural fit on their schedule being just up the highway and they fit in Tolono Unity and St. Joe-Ogden.
Schonauer has grown up around good basketball with roots in Lincoln, playing under Hall of Fame Coach Neil Alexander and has adopted many of the Lincoln basketball styles at PBL.
Schonauer's PBL team this year lost in a sectional championship to Joliet Catholic. He feels playing in a league like the Illini Prairie Conference will help prepare for battles like they had with Joliet Catholic down the road.
The conference switch for the Panthers begins with the 2021-2022 school year.