Hours before the Morris boys basketball team played Pontiac in a home nonconference game, I jumped on IHSA.org to look at where our local teams are going to be come regionals. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that all of the hoops teams in the MDH area, both boys and girls, are staying somewhat close to home this year. All except for the Minooka girls who are going to Normal Community.
What I was really focusing on was the Class 3A regional, which includes Morris and Coal City. Turns out that it is the exact same regional as last year, only with a different team hosting it this time around. The Prairie Central Regional this year has the hosting Hawks, Coal City, Morris, Herscher and Pontiac. To me, that put a bit of a different angle on Tuesday night’s game between Morris and Pontiac since they are going to be in the same regional pool this year.
After the game, in which the Redskins beat the Indians 54-43, I asked Morris senior guard Sam Allen if he liked the fact the Redskins look like they are cruising to a No. 1 regional seed.
“It’s really big,” Allen said of beating Pontiac. “I think head to head matchups mean a lot. We won tonight, which means we are 3-1 against teams who are in our regional.”
Morris has beaten Coal City twice and lost to the Coalers once, in addition to beating Pontiac.
However, as Morris closes in on the No. 1 regional seed, Redskins coach Joe Blumberg admits he is unsure if that is a good thing.
“The No. 1 seed has not won our regional for the last four years,” Blumberg said. “[Pontiac] Coach [Brandon] Martin and I were talking about it beforehand and we agree that having the No. 1 seed is almost a jinx. The number means nothing.”
Last year, in the Herscher Regional, Pontiac was the No. 1 seed and lost to Coal City, 50-42; the year before in Kankakee, Morris was No. 1 and lost to Pontiac, 55-44; the year before in Yorkville, the Foxes were the No. 1 seed and lost to Morris, 51-47; and the year before that LaSalle-Peru was the No. 1 seed and lost to Morris.
“To be honest, there is a bit of a disadvantage to being the one seed because you don’t know who you are going to play and you don’t have a practice to prepare for it,” Blumberg said. “The first game is played on a Monday night and then you turn around and play the winner on Tuesday night. I don’t care what anyone says, but asking for a high school kid to play back to back nights is not as big of an issue as it might be in the NBA. [The seeding] doesn’t mean very much other than it gives our guys a little confidence because they know they can play with anyone in our regional.”
While the No. 1 seed at regional time may not be a big deal, seeding at the Interstate Eight Conference Girls Basketball Tournament usually holds true. This year the No. 1 girls seed is undefeated Coal City, and after Monday’s 46-23 win over Reed-Custer, Comets coach Nick Klein said the Lady Coalers have definitely earned it.
“They are obviously one of the top teams in the area,” he said. “I mean they are undefeated and rightfully so.”
After that, however, Klein thinks that No. 2 Lisle may not stack up well against the Coalers if all goes by the script at next week’s event.
“We played Lisle and I think Lisle is going to struggle against Coal City,” Klein said. “We’ve played both teams now and I think [the Coalers] are head and shoulders above Lisle. I really do. As far as the conference tournament is concerned, I think Peotone is the team that could get to the championship. I know Peotone and Coal City has played twice now and Coal City has got them both times, but I think they are the one team that could give them a run. If anyone can. I think Peotone can beat Lisle and be in the championship.”
Just waiting now to watch how it all unfolds.