When Donovan Garletts put together Marquette Catholic's basketball schedule, the Blazers coach had the big picture in mind, not a gaudy record.
The Class A state finalists were prepared for the postseason with a slate that didn't include a single Class A team.
"Our schedule was a huge benefit," he said. "It's probably one of the toughest 1A schedules around. We beefed it up as much as we could."
The Blazers' docket included Peoria Manual, Rockridge, DeLaSalle, Bishop McNamara and St. Ignatius from Illinois. Marquette (19-6) went 2-3 in those games.
"The out-of-state teams don't factor into (Jeff) Sagarin's (power) ratings," Garletts said. "Not a lot of people understand how good the Chicago Catholic League teams are. It may not look like it on paper because people don't know the teams, but those games absolutely prepared our boys to play bigger, stronger teams."
Other notable Marquette opponents were Andrean (3A), Lew Wallace (3A), South Bend St. Joseph (3A), which won a sectional, and Elkhart Memorial (4A).
"The boys amongst themselves might have had their own goals, but it wasn't like we could look past an opponent," Garletts said. "Game one, game two, attack what's right in front of you. Keep things in line, understand you have the first hurdle, then move on to the second."
Coach Bryan Hughes of Barr-Reeve (26-1) conceded his team didn't play nearly the same caliber of competition, facing four 2A schools and three 3As.
"Obviously, they play a lot tougher schedule, but I feel our team will get the job done and do what they have to do," Hughes said. "I really like our chances to show up and play hard."
Keeping focus: With so much going on outside of basketball, Garletts has had to make sure the Blazers continued to concentrate on the task at hand.
"The kids are on Twitter, Facebook, talking about police escorts, the food they're getting to eat," he said. "They're so excited. It's an absolutely crazy week."
Marquette is on spring break this week, so Garletts held morning practices, other than Monday, in order to maintain some sense of normalcy. A young assistant with Bloomington South in 2009, when the Panthers won the 4A state title, Garletts hoped that experience would help him keep his team on even keel in advance of the game.
Recruiting roundup: Marquette's Ryan Fazekas is clearly the marquee name in the game with his commitment to Providence. Teammate Cortland Gillespie will attend Judson College while Richard Mitchell and Nate Flores are still undecided. Barr-Reeve's Micah Bullock is likely bound for a junior college, according to Hughes.
"Ryan's the highly-touted one, but everybody's incredibly important to the team," Garletts said. "Everything we instill is that it's not about one kid having a great game or a bad game. It's seven, eight consistent players."