MIKE NIETO: A look back at the girls basketball season

2014-03-13T19:45:00Z 2014-03-14T01:46:09Z MIKE NIETO: A look back at the girls basketball seasonMike Nieto Prep Beat nwitimes.com
March 13, 2014 7:45 pm  • 

As we look back at the 2013-14 girls basketball season, it was a little different, to say the least.

Of all local teams, Marian Catholic went the furthest as it made it to the Class 4A semifinals. There, Whitney Young totally shut the Spartans down as Marian had its worst-shooting game since a January loss to St. Incarnate Word.

The Spartans' chances of winning back-to-back state titles were wiped out on March 7 at Redbird Arena. First-year coach Dan Murray did a great job, and it took some time for both he and the players to know each other.

The story of the year was the Illinois High School Association throwing Homewood-Flossmoor and coach Tony Smith out of the tournament on Feb. 19, just before it was to face T.F. North in a Class 4A T.F. North Regional semifinal. The IHSA also made H-F forfeit its regular-season wins.

The violations were violations of IHSA by-laws, including open-gym limitations.

After deliberation, the Board upheld the Executive Director’s decision and required the school to forfeit its regular-season wins from the 2013-14 season.

"Not adhering to these by-laws created a distinct advantage for the Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball program," IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said in a news release. "The school has admitted to violating IHSA By-laws 2.090 and 3.107. In fairness to the teams in the tournament who abided by IHSA rules, removing Homewood-Flossmoor from competition was the most equitable decision."

What is too bad about the state tournament is the girls are playing a state semifinal on the same night as a boys regional in their respective classes. This splits the crowd, like Marian. Its boys were at the Class 4A Plainfield Central Regional final and the girls were in Normal.

I am not sure how this can be avoided, and it does not occur that often. If the boys regional finals were moved to Saturday, you could have a conflict with a state title game. No school wants to split its fan base, but that is the way it is.

There were a lot of outstanding performances. There was T.F. South, with no one over 5-foot-8, winning 20 games, and Ninah Bertrand lighting up the scoreboard 41 points against Ag Science. She tied a program record for most points in a game. The Rebels played hard all year before falling to Marist in regional play.

Seton Academy made it to the super-sectional for the third straight year. Ebony Bailey, GCAC White Player of the Year, will go down as one of the best in the school's history. Coach Kevin Green has quite a program in South Holland.

Beecher ran the table with River Valley Conference Player of the Year Danielle Snuckel, only to be upset in the regionals.

There was the hard-luck Bloom Township team. It lost its best player in Kat Strong before the season, then lost point guard Danielle King to turf toe. The Blazing Trojans battled through it and with those two and Anika Johnson returning, they will make some noise next year.

It was an interesting season.

This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at mike.nieto@nwi.com.

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