DOLTON | The players walk by the trophy case in the foyer outside of Thornridge's gymnasium.
They not only see the great teams that won back-to-back state titles in 1970-71 and 1971-72, they see the who's who of basketball in names as well as all the accolades this storied program has accomplished.
The Falcons program has seen better days and while this year's team finished 12-15 with its 67-52 loss to Rich South on Friday in the Class 3A Thornridge Regional final, the future looks pretty good.
"We know all about it and the great teams," senior Josh Hodges said. "Every day we see it and we want to get the program back. I think we started to this year and I think next year's seniors could make it to the supersectional, maybe farther."
That may putting a little pressure on the underclassmen, but junior Antonio Woods said he is one who has to make sure the program goes forward.
"I have to work real hard in the summer, we all do," Woods said. "We are aware of the great basketball tradition here and we want to bring it back."
To compare any Thornridge team or any prep basketball team to the 1972 team which blew everybody out is unfair. It is great to look back as The Times did recently on the 40-year anniversary of the greatest team ever. That doesn't mean Thornridge can become a force in the basketball world again.
Don't forget, this was a school that was supposed to cease being a four-year high school after the 2010-11 school year. Kids didn't know where they would be, but it wouldn't be on South Cottage Grove Avenue as it was to be a freshman-only academy. Then a new school board came in and it was a four-year school again.
Coach Scott Alderson wants his players to know about the past,and also look to make the program better.
"Thornridge basketball has got the reputation of not having that fire the last few years and we are trying to change that," Alderson said. "There is a great tradition here and I want our kids to know that, look at the trophies, the pictures and get excited."
Maybe it will bring fans back to the gym. It looked like fewer than 200 fans were in attendance Friday for a regional final. I know Thornridge didn't have school on Friday, but a few more could have made their way to the game.
It appears Alderson and his staff have the patience -- and they have been tested -- and the enthusiasm to carry over to the players. It is getting to be an honor again to wear the Columbia blue and white jersey. There is still a way to go as finishing 12-15 is not great, but it is a start in restoring some wins and pride.
This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at email@example.com.