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Johnson: Making a case for best girls hoops team in area

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

Last week, I wrote a column essentially ranking the area’s boys basketball teams, and saying that Morris had clearly set itself from the pack.

I’m going to give our local girls basketball teams the same platform this week, though I’ll be up front with the fact that I won’t be making such a declarative choice for the top spot. That’s because there are two great candidates.

One has yet to lose. Coal City’s 18-0 start includes championships at both the Beecher Ladycat Fall Classic and the Lisle Holiday Cage Classic. The Lady Coalers also are 7-0 in Interstate Eight Conference play, earning the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, which begins later this week.

Minooka can’t claim to be the area’s best team based on record, although its 12-3 mark, through Monday, is nothing to sneeze at. As the area’s lone Class 4A team, however, the Indians always have to be graded on a curve. They’ve entered two tough, big-school tournaments, losing once at each – by three points to DeKalb at the War-Hawk Tournament, and by 16 to eventual runner-up and host Lincoln-Way East at the Medieval Classic. Their only other loss, through Monday, was by three points to Oswego.

Coal City has faced some quality Class 2A and Class 3A competition in its tournaments and during I-8 play, but to date, its nonconference, nontournament opponents have been Class 1A teams. That changes, and we’ll get a clearer picture of who the area’s top dog is Jan. 27 when the Lady Coalers play at Providence. Minooka defeated Providence for the second time this season Monday night.

After catching Minooka for the first time in that Providence game (I saw Coal City once earlier), my take is that Coal City is the best girls team in the area, but it’s close. Have the Lady Coalers play Minooka 100 times, and they would certainly not emerge with 100 wins. (The same would be true of the Morris boys, I’ll note, if they matched up 100 times with any of a few other local teams).

If we included everyone in a local girls power rankings, there would be arguments over a couple of other spots. Should the No. 3 team be 17-3 Seneca, or an 8-9 Morris team that’s played a tougher schedule? (I’d lean toward Seneca, but again it’s very close.) You can’t really argue that Newark should be slotted over Seneca since the Lady Irish have beaten Newark twice, but could you argue that Newark, which was 13-5 before Tuesday, would be ranked higher than Morris? I wouldn’t.

Disagree with where I’ve put somebody if you’d like, and I’d say there’s a good chance you have a case. The reason it’s tough to say who’s better than who among local girls basketball teams – and I’d even include a coming-around Gardner-South Wilmington team in this – is that everyone is pretty good.

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