Boys basketball progress shows in Pekin tournament


Glenn Kinley, Staff Reporter

After starting off the season with a 1-3 Intercity tournament, the Wildcats basketball team believes they have come a long way. “We’re just so much more experienced,” said coach Brian Cupples on Tuesday.

The Wildcats proved just that when they became the first Normal West boys basketball team to reach the tournament championship in Pekin over the holidays since 2000.

Despite a bad loss in the championship game, the Wildcats considered getting there to be a victory. After big wins over Washington and Lake Zurich, the Wildcats got revenge over the team that ended their season in the regional championship last year by giving East Moline United Township their first loss of the year.

Coach Cupples emphasized that the Wildcats were playing tough teams, but they kept up. “Lake Zurich was really good,” Cupples said. He went on to say that the team won a lot more games over Christmas break against a competition level that was, “similar to intercity.”

Senior power forward John Sherman agreed with this when he said “We beat three good teams.”

Sherman also said, “We really showed growth in the Pekin Tournament.” “We started to play better as a team and executed on both ends of the floor.”

For Coach Cupples, this was the farthest he had ever taken a Normal West team in the Pekin tournament. Prior to this year, the best finish he previously had with a team was fourth.

When asked what his team did right in the tournament Cupples said, “We defended really well.” “We let only 39 points for 3 games in a row,” he said.

“We’re definitely a much better team than we were 5 or 6 games ago,” said senior Alex Hoss. “We’ve come a long way and it was nice to prove that in that tournament,” he added.

After a win over Peoria Richwoods following their championship loss, the Wildcats have now won 6 of 8 games since their rocky Intercity start.

Starting at least three sophomores (sometimes four) each game, experience is just what this team needed. The Wildcats are beginning to show how good they can be with experience. And luckily for them, they have plenty of underclassmen that will be experienced and ready for the seasons to come.

The future seems bright for Wildcats boys basketball, but only time will tell.