Senior Joe Micetich has worn the Coal City green, white and gold basketball uniform now for the last four seasons. He's seen the highs and lows of things as the Coalers have tried to take the next step up under coach Brad Boresi,
For the last to years, and even at the beginning of this season, the locals have struggled. Each of the last two postseasons before this one, the Coalers were one and done — worse yet, losing in the play-in game.
But something happened since last year - for that matter since the Plano Christmas Classic. It's seen the team turn around from a 5-8 start to 18 wins and a regional championship appearance.
A day before engaging Morris for the Herscher Class 3A championship, Micetich agreed to engage the Morris Daily Herald in a question and answer session to talk about the highs and lows of this basketball season.
Q. How long have you been playing basketball now?
A. I've been playing basketball ever since I can remember, but I've been playing organized ball since sixth grade.
Q. I know your dad (Joel) is widely considered one of the best basketball players ever from the area. Were you aware of that?
A. Oh trust me, he's made it quite clear to me over the years that he was a good player. In fact, to my understanding, he still has the school record for most points in a game with 44 points. Any time he brings it up, he never forgets to state that he would've scored more but when he played, the 3-point line didn't exist.
Q. How much of an influence on your game has he been?
A. He's been the biggest influence to my game. He was the one to teach me to play, he's the one that made me love the game so much, he helps me work out bugs in my game to this day. I owe it all to him.
Q. About this year's Coalers. What has been the biggest different from the last couple of years to this one?
A. The last few years, it seemed like we just couldn't figure out what we needed to do to win. I think that this year, we just figured out what works. Also, we have some more varsity experience this year. Last year, we only had one senior by the end of the season. This year, we have seven.
Q. How about the biggest difference from the beginning of the season until now?
A. The deeper into the season we got, the more we played like a team. As time passed, everyone realized their role on the team. Also, with football playoffs, some of our players missed the first week or so of practice. I think it just took a little time for us to adjust and click as a team.
Q. Coach said that it's been a long time since the school has had success in boys basketball. How does that make you and your teammates feel?
A. The fact that we haven't had success in a while mainly motivates us. Coach Boresi turned our attention up to the wall of the gym the other day and pointed out to us that Coal City has only won seven regional championships in the history of its existence. He mentioned how cool it would be to see our year up on the wall every time we went to another Coaler basketball game in the future. That really made us want this win even more.
Q. Also, you guys are bumped up to 3A for the first time ever, yet having succes. Does that make it even more special?
A. As if a regional championship isn't good enough, by winning this game, we would make history. It would make us the first ever Coal City team to win a 3A regional; that'd be a great story to tell in the future.
By the time this runs, everyone is going to know who won the Herscher regional championship. Answer these two questions as best you can.
Q. Morris won Friday's regional in all probability because?
A. They won because they hit some shots and took advantage of Coal City's mistakes. Coal City had an off game and Morris shot well from the perimeter.
Q. Coal City won Friday's Regional in all probablility because?
A. Coal City won the regional because they learned from their mistakes in their two losses to Morris earlier this season and played as a unit. They won with teamwork and unselfishness. The coalers stayed determined the entire game. When they faced troubles in the game, they would bend but wouldn't break. They wanted the win more, and that is why they won.
Q. Regardless of win or loss, nice job on a good season. To wrap things up, if you had some advice for a youngster who was wanting to play basketball for the Coalers some day, what would it be?
A. My advice to any kid who wants to be a Coaler is to go to the Lil Coaler Basketball Camp. Chances are, I will be there coaching like I normally do. They teach the fundamentals of basketball there. After all, you have to learn to crawl before you learn to walk. It is not going to come over night. I know for a fact that all my teammates went to similar camps as kids. I'd also like to tell them that they can never, EVER give up. It would've been very easy to call it quits after winning only 10 games in my first two seasons of varsity basketball, but we didn't and now we are competing for a 3A regional championship.