Believe it or not, but the stretch run of the basketball season isn’t far away. There is only about a month to play in the season.
The tournaments are just about finished. By the start of February, we’ll be in the grind to wrap up conference play followed by the playoffs.
We’re starting to get an idea of which teams could be moving on beyond the district level, or at least who should be in the running for top seeds.
I’ve seen a lot of Class 4 District 6 (our local district). On the boys side, there should be no argument that Pacific is the best team in the district, and the area. The Indians just knocked off Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 4 No. 8 team Nevada in the Kansas Army National Guard Tournament in Frontenac, Kan.
This very well could be the year that John VanLeer’s team moves beyond the district level. The Indians should be the favorite to claim the top seed for the tournament in Union at least.
The bigger question will be where the other teams will be seeded. Most of the teams have losing records. Even perennial favorites such as Sullivan and Borgia are below .500. Union and Borgia, which have split, both are below .500. And the only team outside the area, Parkway West, has only won three times this season.
If Borgia can play at the level it did Monday night at the Union Tournament, things could get interesting. Now we need to see if that was a sign of the future or just a blip.
Can Pacific, or whichever team would happen to advance, have anything to offer in the sectional round. As of right now, Parkway Central (ranked seventh in Class 4) would stand to be the opponent. Parkway Central made the state tournament last year.
The bigger questions will come on the girls side. Sullivan, ranked 10th in Class 4 right now (better than No. 9 Lutheran South in my opinion), would be the favorite in the district. The Lady Eagles advanced to the sectional round last year. No. 4 Parkway North seems to be the favorite to come out of the other district again.
However, I wouldn’t count out any team in the district. St. Clair is extremely solid all the way around and has good depth. I think the Lady Bulldogs could emerge as the favorite before the event is seeded.
Union has an impressive young team. Borgia can play with teams, but just hasn’t put everything together against district opponents yet. Parkway West is 5-10.
The big question mark is Pacific. The Lady Indians have some impressive wins, including beating Lutheran South in the championship of the Lutheran South Tournament. Pacific also has beaten Borgia. But Pacific also struggled to beat Parkway West in overtime.
As of right now, my guess is that it’s a Sullivan-St. Clair championship. I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s a different set of teams though.
One way or another, the Borgia boys basketball program is just about to reach milestones.
Following Monday’s win over Union in the opening round of the Union Tournament, Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier has a career mark of 699-195. No matter what happens, he will reach a milestone.
Borgia fans hope it’s the 700th career win, which has proven to be elusive. Neier entered the season needing seven wins for the 700 milestone, but the team has found it difficult with a 6-9 record. It’s been a bit of everything from not working well together to playing a tough schedule. The team showed a more determined edge Monday night in the win over Union. For whatever reason, the Knights haven’t meshed together as in previous seasons.
Borgia fans have been spoiled. Over Neier’s first 30 years, his teams have averaged 6.2 losses per season. That’s a testament to Neier, his assistant coaches and everyone who has worn the Borgia uniform from 1987-88 to 2016-17. Neier has 195 losses, meaning he’s closing in on another milestone as well. Hopefully for their head coach, this year’s team can come together and give him the wins milestone first.
Prompted by the report of Springfield Glendale’s program reaching 1,000 wins, I decided to do a little research. Borgia’s records were pretty handy thanks to some recent work by others.
Mike Stapp (helped by meticulous record keeping by Ray DeGreeff, Steve Ruether, Doug Light, etc.) actually made it pretty easy with his book on Borgia’s basketball history a few years back. I found that since the program started in 1941-42, Borgia has recorded 1,539 wins to 604 losses.
The team quietly reached the 600-loss milestone Dec. 15 against St. Mary’s.
Neier has the most wins at the school. His mentor, Ray DeGreeff, won 545 games with the Knights, but had 703 wins during his career, high school and a three-year run as Quincy University’s head coach (1947-51). DeGreeff’s Borgia record was 545-240.
Sebastian Nowicki is next on the list as he posted a record of 159-62 at Borgia. Steve Ruether is fourth on the wins list with 110 to go with 56 setbacks.
Only three others, Jack Corcoran (4-9 in 1941-43), Father Matthew Menges (0-8 in 1943-44) and Fenton Switzer (22-28 in 1944-46), have led the Knights.
That list doesn’t include Joseph Semenczyk, the program’s original head coach who was drafted into the Army before the inaugural season.