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Johnson: Morris boys hoops currently best team in the area

Published: Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 10:04 p.m. CST
(Craig Lincoln for Shaw Media)
Morris guard Jake Walker goes up for two points as Coal City center Nick Peters tries to block his shot in a recent nonconference game between the Redskins and Coalers.

Who’s the fairest of them all?

If you’re talking about local boys basketball teams, the answer is Morris – and I don’t know how you could make a real argument otherwise.

The owner of the area’s best overall record at 9-2, Morris has gone ahead of four of the other five teams we deem local. Against those teams, the Redskins have lost once – by eight points to Coal City at the Coalers’ Thanksgiving Tournament. Morris has since beaten the Coalers twice – by six points at the Plano Christmas Classic and by 20 in nontournament play Tuesday night.

The Redskins claimed wins over Gardner-South Wilmington (68-50 at the Coal City tournament), Minooka (46-40 on Dec. 7) and Seneca (46-42 on Jan. 4). The only local team they haven’t beaten is Newark, which through Tuesday had lost four more games than Morris and lost by 29 points to Seneca at Plano.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that when coach Joe Blumberg laid out his goals for the Redskins before the season, having an MDH reporter deem them the class of the area wasn’t among them.

And there’s still time for my opinion to change. Morris won’t see any local schools between now and the end of the regular season, but it will share a regional with Coal City, which could well have the ship righted by then. If Minooka or Seneca really heats up and Morris falters, I could see a case being made that they finish the season as the area’s premier team.

It’s been a while since the area had such a clear-cut best boys team. We certainly didn’t have one at the end of the 2012-13 season, when arguments could’ve been made for Coal City, which won a Class 3A regional title; Minooka, which had a nice season against a mostly Class 4A schedule; and even Seneca, which went to a Class 2A sectional (Newark, it should be noted, wasn’t considered an area team by the MDH in the past few years).

Minooka was the clear class of the area in 2011-12 when it won 20 games while playing the toughest schedule. Even then, it didn’t go against any of the other local teams head-to-head, and no one can say for sure what would’ve happened if it did.

If you go back one year further, a 21-9 Morris team that won a Class 3A regional would definitely get my vote as the area’s best team, though that would probably change if a 33-1 Class 1A state championship team from Newark were eligible for the honor.

Say we count the 2010-11 Norsemen as a local team, and say we say they were superior to Morris that year. Then when could you last say Morris was the best team the MDH covers? Would it be 2004-05 when a 15-9 Morris team had a one-point win over a 33-win Seneca team that finished third in the state in Class 1A? Might you have to go all the way back to 1992-93, when the Redskins were 23-4?

No matter how you view it, some time has passed since Morris has so clearly set itself apart from the rest of the area in boys basketball – especially since no one has had the kind of local head-to-head success that the Redskins have enjoyed this winter.

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