Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Orr defeated North Chicago...

...last night, 63-49, at Hoffman Estates High School. The Spartans will now face Cahokia in the semifinals on Friday in Peoria.

Why did I choose to print that rose? Is it because Derrick Rose was at the game? No. (He went to Simeon, remember?) But good guess.

No, the picture above is a reference to something we used to call "Thorns and Roses" in the Boy Scouts. At the end of every camping trip (and we took a lot of them) we'd talk about what we liked about the weekend and what we didn't.

(Humor me; this may have been my last game of the season. That three-hour drive to Peoria -- and back -- is just sounding longer and longer.)

So what did I like about last night's game (and what didn't I like)?

First of all, the people working out at Hoffman Estates High School were some of the friendliest and helpful I'd met all year. But the sightlines for the actual game were horrible (or, "beyond horrible," as my son would say). Unless you were a student or a member of the press (of which I am neither), you had to sit with the rest of the hoi polloi in the "balcony." Now, I don't mind sitting up high (I actually prefer it), but there was a huge, annoying railing in the way and I felt like I watched the whole game through the bars of a jail cell. It was very distracting! (So distracting, in fact, that I would think long and hard about attending a game there again. It was really difficult to watch the action!)

So to paraphrase President Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of airports: Mr. Hoffman, tear down that railing! (Or at least replace it with something I can see through.)

Now, as for the game itself (oh yeah, that), I'll let you read all the gory details in the Trib and Sun-Times. Suffice it to say -- as North Chicago coach Gerald Coleman did -- that the better team won. (And that's how it's supposed to work, right?) Although it was a three-point game at the half, the Warhawks committed just too many turnovers to win a Super-Sectional contest. And the Spartans, led by juniors Tyquone Greer (6'7") and Marlon Jones (6'8") were just too much for the defending 3A runners-up.

(Trivia question interlude: Who won the very first IHSA basketball championship in 1908? Hint: It wasn't Fenwick. Answer below.*)

Besides Greer and Jones, I simply must give a shout-out to two other up-and-coming juniors, North Chicago's Kurt Hall and JayQuan McCloud. (Honestly, where do they get some of these first names? How come I never knew anybody named JayQuan when I was growing up?)

In fact, I can't remember ever seeing so many juniors in a Super-Sectional game. (My wife thinks I just like saying "Super-Sectional.") But, seriously, both teams are positively loaded with returning starters next year. (Keep your eye on these two programs!)

And while I'm on the subject of the teams, Orr seems to get by just fine with a head coach, Louis Adams, and three assistants, while North Chicago has a head coach, an associate head coach (also named Coleman -- hmmm), eight assistants and three managers (two of whom are named -- you guessed it -- Coleman). How big is that budget up there? And how many of Gerald "King" Coleman's family are on the payroll? (No wonder they call him "King"; he's running a gosh-darned "fiefdom" in North Chicago!)

As for the game itself (I keep coming back to that, don't I?), it wasn't the best cage match I'd seen all year, but I don't feel like I missed anything special anywhere else. (Who would've thought that one of the closest games last night would be Simeon and New Trier? Not me.)

So Orr won and is headed down to Peoria for a possible 3A final with Morgan Park. Simeon, of course, has to get by Proviso East and then either Edwardsville (dark horse?) or a young Stevenson team to win its fourth consecutive 4A title. Should be a good weekend!

* Peoria High School (17-1) defeated Rock Island (10-5) in the first IHSA basketball championship by a score of 48-29. (Try getting that from Andrew Sullivan's blog.)

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