Timeout girls basketball: Bulletin board material plentiful for PCC tourney
By Steve T. Gorches 648-3141 or email@example.com January 10, 2013 11:18PM
Hanover Central's Blayr Poston sits on the bench with a cast on her left hand during a game against Morton on Thursday, December 27, 2012, in Cedar Lake. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 12, 2013 2:50PM
For the first time in a while there isn’t a clear-cut favorite.
For the first time in a while, the essence of the small-school rivalries should be at a high level during the Porter County Conference girls tournament that begins Monday at Morgan Township.
And there’s already plenty of locker room bulletin board material.
Just ask South Central coach Rick Budka, whose team looks like it’s in prime position heading into the 41st annual tourney that can morph into a family feud if they’re not careful.
“It doesn’t matter if you win the Kup in the first round or on Saturday night, because someone is leaving with the Kup in the end,” said Budka, referring to the PCC girls traveling trophy that has changed hands twice this season after staying in the same place for about three years.
“We don’t want the Kup going out with the team that’s leaving the conference.”
It sounds like Budka is making his team the defender of the PCC, since the team he’s referring to — Hanover Central — has possession of the Kup right now and is heading to the Greater South Shore Conference next year.
It doesn’t help that Hanover coach Doug Nelson started the pot-stirring before the season even began with, “I’m not bringing (the Kup) back” if Hanover finishes the season with the trophy.
It’s hard to determine which PCC achievement ranks higher — winning the round robin, winning the tournament or holding the Kup. It seems to change from day to day and from team to team — maybe player to player on each team, as well as coach to coach. No matter the importance, Hanover likes being able to carry the Kup into the gym ever since capturing it on Nov. 30 when the Wildcats rolled over Hebron, which had held it for less than two weeks after routing Boone Grove.
“The girls have taken a lot of pride in having it and defending it a couple times,” Nelson said.
But it’s going to be a challenge to hold onto it at least one more week through the tourney.
Boone Grove has won every PCC game for the last three years before the loss to Hebron. That includes three tournament titles and three straight 7-0 round-robin campaigns. In fact, Boone has won six of the last seven tourneys, meaning its ended the week with the Kup each time.
This season the Wolves have lost two PCC games — they also lost to South Central last week in a low-scoring affair (31-27). But Boone is coming off an impressive victory over defending sectional champ Winamac in which Paige Aguilera had 20 points, nine rebounds and eight steals.
“The girls are excited to play Boone Grove,” said Nelson, whose team drew the Wolves in Tuesday’s last first-round contest. “(Boone) is starting to score more, and what can you say about Aguilera? She’s a real good player.”
The Satellites are the only team without a loss in the PCC this season — a fact that’s enhanced by something Budka has posted in the locker room. It’s a quote from Nelson after South Central opened PCC play with a win over his Wildcats: “Something tells me there won’t be an undefeated team in the league this year.”
Needless to say, it’s been a motivating factor for the Satellites.
“Our No. 1 goal at the beginning of the season was to win the PCC Tournament,” Budka said. “Not sectional or Mid-Winter Classic or the round robin. We have sectional and round robin and regional banners in our gym. We want to see a PCC tourney title up there.”
Just because the bulletin board barbs seem to be relegated to South Central and Hanover Central doesn’t mean it’s a given one of those teams wins a wide open field next week.
“We feel it’s definitely anybody’s tournament with the matchups the way they are,” said Hebron coach Stephanie Schulte. “With the Kup and the rivalries, (the intensity) is the highest it’s been in the four years I’ve been here.”
She admitted Nelson’s quotes about the Kup and the conference have been talked about. The Hawks are also thinking back to their loss to South Central last week in which they had a 10-point lead at halftime before losing by 10.
“We believe we can beat them,” Schulte said.
Hanover will have a tough time defending the Kup due to injury issues. The Wildcats recently got leading scorer — and the top scorer in the area — Blayr Poston back from a wrist injury. But almost simultaneously, they lost point guard Rylie Singleton with her second torn knee ligament in the last two seasons (one in each knee).
“What’s the saying, ‘next man up’?” Nelson said. “Whoever made that up, it fits with us. We’re going to have to find a way to fill spots.”
And find a way to hold off the other seven PCC teams that don’t want the Kup heading back to Cedar Lake.
Let the games begin.