Girls basketball: Hanover hopes for fond farewell to PCC
By Steve T. Gorches 648-3141 or firstname.lastname@example.org November 4, 2012 11:50PM
Hanover Central coach Doug Nelson speaks with Blayr Poston and Tiphani Ward during a game against Lowell on Wednesday, November 23, 2011, in Cedar Lake. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 6, 2012 6:19AM
Maybe the loss in last year’s Class 3A sectional final to Knox was a blessing in disguise for Hanover Central. Now before rabid Cedar Lake hoops fans start calling my voice mail to complain, let me explain.
You see, most teams would have that disappointing loss weighing on their minds, thoughts of the Wildcats making 10 shots from 3-point range and still losing. Then those players would use the loss to motivate them to finish off the sectional this year.
But it could be an invisible distraction since there are other goals to achieve before the postseason in February.
For the Wildcats, there’s plenty of motivation before sectionals, and they can thank the Porter County Conference for that incentive.
Hanover is leaving the PCC and headed toward the Greater South Shore Conference, which is a better fit for the Cedar Lake school — no offense to the PCC.
It’s common sense: Hanover sits in Lake County — well westward into Lake if you’re traveling from the east — and the name of the conference is ... you don’t need me to finish the logic, right? You get it, right?
But Hanover didn’t want to leave the PCC until after the 2014-15 school year. Two more years in the conference in which it’s had some memorable moments since joining in 1972 — especially in girls basketball.
There’s the only sole PCC round-robin title in 1984, with four shared crowns in 1988, 1996, 1997 and 1999.
There’s the prestigious PCC Tournament titles in 1985, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000 and 2004 — six of them, which ranks third-most in PCC history.
Hanover girls basketball coach Doug Nelson was looking forward to adding to those numbers for three more seasons before his school joined the GSSC, mainly due to adding a football program that will be ready for varsity play by then.
Instead, the PCC administrators voted to kick Hanover out of the PCC at the end of this season.
Forty years of loyalty from afar — and yes, it’s pretty darn far from Cedar Lake to most of those PCC opponents, such as LaCrosse or South Central — has been tossed aside like a monkey discarding a banana peel after a snack.
How’s this for incentive for Nelson to motivate his players: The PCC doesn’t want you, so let’s go out on a high note.
Now both sides said the right things in defending the decision and not wanting to stir things up — no hard feelings, shake hands and good luck in the future.
“It was a mutual thing — just one year early,” Nelson said.
It creates some logistical issues for Nelson and boys basketball coach Bryon Clouse.
“Coach Clouse and I both worried about our schedules with a new conference,” Nelson said. “As much as we’re looking forward to this year we’re also looking forward to next year, playing new people.”
But Nelson is also a little sad and a bit nostalgic about leaving the PCC. He was an assistant coach at both Morgan Township and Washington Township before traveling west.
“It’s really a neat conference,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed those people. They are old families who have known each other for generations. And some of those families at different schools have hated each other for years. It’s not fake.
“Duneland Conference (teams) think they have great athletes, but they wish they had something like the PCC tourney. It’s such a great event that can’t be duplicated in the DAC.”
No argument there. The PCC and its basketball tournament is the ultimate family atmosphere. And anyone who has brought together their family on Thanksgiving or Christmas knows everyone doesn’t always get along. But in the end, the event supercedes the disdain.
Nelson added that he’ll “miss going to the PCC banquet.” But he couldn’t help but think about the ultimate irony that his squad could win the coveted traveling Kup that is held by Boone Grove currently. In their last season in the conference, what if the Wildcats win the Kup in their final trip to Boone Grove (Jan. 24), hold onto it after the final two PCC games against Kouts and LaCrosse, and ride into the sunset — well, actually it would be the sunrise since Hanover is west of the PCC — with Kup in hand.
Really, what would happen? Would the PCC actually make Hanover give it back? They’d have to pry it from Nelson’s cold, dead hands.
“They’d have to make one more road trip (to Lake County), because I’m not bringing it back if that happens,” Nelson said.
The Wildcats have seven seniors on the roster, led by Blayr Poston and Tiphani Ward, and you can bet those seniors would love nothing more than to be in the room with Nelson, holding the Kup, daring someone from the PCC to take it away.
“It’s always a season of lasts for (those seniors),” Nelson said. “Last practice, last game at LaCrosse’s little gym, last PCC banquet.”
And how about winning the PCC title and Kup and getting to stick their collective tongues out at PCC officials saying, “Ha ha, you can’t have it!” I’d pay to see that.