When it comes to boys basketball, the Morris Daily Herald’s coverage area has never exactly been what somebody would call a hot spot.
Anyone that thinks of Morris, the first thing that comes to mind is football, and rightfully so. Coal City has had its football success, and its baseball history isn’t too bad either.
Lately, Minooka has been a wrestling school, and while the Indians have never took home a state football title, their football team has had its share of winning seasons But, basketball? With the exception of Seneca, there aren’t a whole lot of riches down here.
Of course, when it comes to the Irish, their history is pretty rich itself. Seneca won the Class A state title in 2006 after taking third the year before. Add those accolades to a second-place finish in Class A back in 1991.
Now, the rest of the area has left a lot to be desired when it comes to the hardwood. In Morris, winning a regional title probably used to feel like winning a state championship. Minooka hasn’t won a regional title since 1977.
Yes, that’s correct.
Coal City hasn’t won a regional since 2001. While Gardner-South Wilmington has had some regular season success recently, the Panthers still haven’t won a regional crown since the 1993-94 season.
This season could be different in terms of area boys basketball. Maybe it won’t be like most years where the local schools are thinking about baseball after a quick exit from the postseason.
In reality, there are four area teams with legitimate shots at winning a regional.
Morris, where regional titles used to be unheard of, is just two victories away from its third straight regional championship. The Redskins are the top seed at the Class 3A Kankakee Regional, and will probably be favored going into the postseason.
Gardner-South Wilmington is the other area school that earned a No. 1 seed, as the Panthers get the top spot at the Class 1A Serena Regional. Over at the Class 2A Seneca Regional (otherwise known as the Interstate Eight Regional), Seneca is the No. 2 seed, and has a good shot of meeting rival Coal City, the third seed, in the semifinals.
Now, Herscher is the clear favorite in Seneca, as the Tigers have lost just once all season. Yet that loss came at the hands of Westmont, a team the Irish beat over weekend, in the final of the Interstate Eight Tournament.
Herscher showed it’s definitely beatable. On its home floor, Seneca certainly has a shot should the Irish get past Coal City.
That brings me to Minooka. Last season, the Indians won their first regional game in more than 20 years. In 2012, Minooka wants more. The Indians want to bring home that coveted regional title.
Returning five starters from last year’s team, expectations in Minooka were high at the start of the season. The Indians haven’t been a disappointment, sitting at the top of the conference, with their only two Southwest Prairie losses coming at the hands of Plainfield East, a very, very good team that has a good shot to get to state. Minooka took the Bengals to the wire both times.
The Indians’ draw isn’t easy. The No. 8 seed in the Class 4A Lockport Sectional complex, Minooka will draw ninth-seeded Sandburg in its regional semifinal game at Joliet Central. Should the Indians win their regional opener, top-seeded Bloom out of Chicago Heights will most likely be waiting.
But, as they showed in both Plainfield East losses, the Indians can hang with the top teams in the area.
Believe it or not, the boys basketball postseason is almost here. Unlike most years, there is a lot to cheer about in the Grundy County area.
The question is, how long into March will area fans be cheering?