After a rough start to the season, that dark cloud hovering over the Southwestern Illinois College Blue Storm appears to be lifting and quickly.
Sophomores Trae Anderson and Tony Bradley combined for 30 points while Keanau Post added a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds as SWIC ran past Wabash Valley College 86-67 on Saturday in Mount Carmel.
On a night which featured a capacity crowd and festival-like atmosphere, the Blue Storm (6-2) pulled off is second straight strong effort and was never in serious trouble against the Warriors.
"It was a fun atmosphere, They had a huge crowd and a lot of give-aways during timeouts and at halftime. The mayor of Mount Carmel was there and during each break he would play the 'Wabash Cannonball' on his trumpet. It was pretty crazy,'' SWIC coach Jay Harrington said. "On the court, I thought we played pretty well.
"We executed a lot better then we have been and we played much harder then we have been. Let's hope that continues."
Harrington won't have long to wait. After wins over Region 24 heavyweights Olney and Wabash Valley, SWIC faces another major test on Wednesday when it hosts John A. Logan College at 7:30 p.m.
"Our draw to start the season wasn't the best so if we can come out and beat a very good (John A. Logan) program and be 3-0 in the region at the (semester) break, it would be huge,'' Harrington said. "But you're talking about two teams that don't like each other very much and they have already gone down and won a game at Three Rivers College this year.
"This will be another war for our kids. It's a major big-time game.''
Harrington added that freshman guard Luke Norman will be out at least until after the Christmas holidays. Norman has two herniated discs in his lower back.
Riding a five-game winning streak, the Blue Storm women's squad is back among the nation's elite and are ranked 19th this week in the NJCAA Division I poll.
Using a strong defensive effort, SWIC (5-1) overcame 27 turnovers on Saturday for a 56-43 win over Wabash Valley.
"We didn't play all that well with the (turnovers) and I think we missed five or six wide open layups. The difference was that Wabash Valley can't score right now and we, because we have Janelle (Cannon) can get a shot almost anytime we want," SWIC coach Mike Juenger said. "LaTeesha (Deloach) had 16 points and four 3-pointers the other night against Olney Central and Breana (Baker) had 12 so we're getting other kids involved as well."
Like Harrington, Juenger knows a 3-0 start in region play would be huge for his team.
"We're playing pretty well,'' Juenger said. "We need to get some more kids involved a little more but we've already beaten Olney which won the regular season title last year and Wabash (Valley) which is always a very strong team. We're just looking to improve each game.''
SWIC is back in action Wednesday with a game against John A. Logan. The tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.