The Marian Catholic boys and girls basketball teams may not have piled on the frequent flier miles, but they certainly didn't leave home without their bus passes.
Both competed in several shootouts or showcases during the season, with the girls playing in five. Coach Annie Byrne's team even traveled to Mississippi for a two-day event.
"It does give us a chance to play some teams we normally wouldn't play," Byrne said. "It is good exposure for the kids and the trip to Mississippi is a good one for team bonding."
The Spartans played in the Whitney Young Showdown, the Battle of the Borders in Racine, Wis., the McDonald's Chicagoland Shootout and the Sweet 16 Tournament.
The boys team saw miles of magnificent Illinois miles as it played in three different events in a seven-day span. Marian played from the Illinois-Iowa border to the Illinois-Wisconsin border. It played in the South Suburban College shootout on Jan. 16. On Jan. 21, it played Bettendorf, Iowa in Manny's Pizza Shootout in Mount Carroll, Ill., which is a few miles from the Mississippi River. Coach Mike Taylor's team then traveled to the College of Lake County (Ill.) for a Jan. 22 game with West Allis (Wis.) Central in the Battle of the Borders.
"These games are nice, but because of the distance, you do not get a lot of parents and fewer fans," Taylor said. "You do get to see different teams, but it is a lot of travel."
Marian athletic director Dave Mattio said while it does cost the school money for transportation, meals and sometimes overnight lodging, both teams have fundraisers and it is worth it.
"The number one thing is exposure for the kids and while it costs, parents are also reaching into their pockets," Mattio said. "It does cost, but it also is a good experience for the kids. Our other programs travel for tourneys and our band, which is great, travels all over."
While Mattio did not disclose the cost, he did say it is in the middle to upper four-figure number.
Next year, the Marian boys team will play in the Warrior Shoot-out at Crete-Monee
The Crete-Monee event is looking to add some teams, according to Warriors coach Tom Cappel. When he was at Hillcrest, he ran that school's shootout.
"I think these events are great to bring in teams and give the fans a whole day of great matchups," Cappel said. "It also gives you a chance to play someone besides your regular conference schedule, but you need a local flavor to draw the crowds."
Crete-Monee played in Champaign, Ill. this year and despite the travel, it was worthwhile.
"It gives the kids a chance to travel, bond and play in front of a different crowd," Cappel said. "I like it and I think the kids enjoy it."
The Times hosts the Region Roundball Rumble, which is a one- or two-day showcase that is played on or near the New Year's holiday. Times Managing Editor Paul Mullaney said next season will be the 14th for the event.
"It has grown into the premier showcase in Northwest Indiana. Though our focus of the event is Indiana schools, and pitting schools from the Region against teams from downstate, we have had Illinois schools participate," Mullaney said. "In fact, TF North, Homewood-Flossmoor, Mount Carmel and Chicago Washington have been among the out-of-state schools that have competed, and all brought Division 1 athletes to the event.
"The fans of Northwest Indiana look forward to this every year, and to the 3-point shootout that coincides with the event."
T.F. North's Bob Hambric Shootout is named after the late Simeon coach, who also coached Meteors coach Tim Bankston when Bankston was in high school. The two-day event provides some great matchups with city schools versus suburban schools and is used to raise money for cancer research as well as to raise cancer awareness. Bankston wants to expand the tournament.
"We want to maybe bring some teams from out East and make this a big thing," Bankston said. "If we have to start earlier in the day or add a third day, that's fine.
"We want to showcase the basketball talent as well as raise more money for cancer research and to promote cancer awareness."