SATURDAY SENTINEL: Indians' run a fitting end to a fine postseason
While we must all be still wondering what the heck happened to the spring weather this year, the one thing that has been unquestioned is the quality of competition this postseason for our local teams. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this has been the most successful single postseason for the area ever.
Let me back this up.
Morris, Coal City and Minooka all won regional soccer championships to get things going. I know without a doubt that is the first time that’s ever happened. Actually, the regional titles by Morris and Coal City were their first ever. For the Indians, it was their second.
That dovetailed into track season, where Morris’ Haleigh Knapp won the 2A high jump title again, and on the boys side, the Minooka 4x400-meter relay team won the 3A title. Track season was made more remarkable for the Morris girls when Leona Burton also qualified for state, making it the first time the Redskins have sent two to state in 15 years.
To be honest, the baseball season turned out to be quite disappointing. Coal City and Seneca were down this year and Minooka lost its playoff opener just one year after making an unexpected run to state. Both Gardner-South Wilmington and Morris did play for regional championship, though both let winnable games slip away from them. But the success of this spring turned out to not be contingent on baseball whatsoever, which is surprising.
Boys volleyball season ended up being about what most people thought it would be with Minooka getting back to state for the third time in the past four seasons. The Indians ended up running into Lincoln-Way North in the opening round there in what many were calling the state championship right off the bat. North won in three hard-fought games and advanced, ending Minooka’s season at 36-3. North did get to the championship game but then fell flat against Downer’s Grove South in the championship. Still, it was a fun run.
Then there was and is the softball season.
Gardner-South Wilmington broke new ground by making it all the way to the Class 1A super-sectional. The Panthers got hot at the right time under first-year softball coach (but by no means a rookie) Jon Posing and rode the wave all the way to Seneca where their season ended.
That only set the stage for the Minooka girls who are going right up to the moment you are probably reading this. The Indians made it all the way to the 4A State Championship this year. It’s also their first trip to state in team history.
Here at the end of this stretch, the Indians played one of the best games I have ever seen. That came in the sectional semifinals when Minooka beat Lockport 15-14. The Indians were down 13-4 at one point before pulling off the best high school comeback I’ve witnessed.
Now the Indians are in East Peoria trying to show people what they are truly capable of. I’ve already seen it, but no matter what the outcome and no matter how you slice it, Minooka’s performance on Saturday is a right fine end to a right fine season.