There aren't many Wednesday night showcase games in high school basketball, which is exactly the reason Madison High coach Jaime Cotto chose to schedule one then.
Two of the area's stronger teams will square off when Madison plays host to Marquette at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Cotto and Marquette coach Steve Medford chose a Wednesday night so as not to compete with other games, hoping to draw a larger crowd in an effort to help the Wounded Warrior Project.
The program's mission is to honor and help wounded military veterans, as well as helping them transition back to civilian life. Cotto said the game was the idea of Madison High principal Rob Miller.
Cotto said half the proceeds from the game will go directly to the Wounded Warrior Project. In addition, Madison will mark the occasion by wearing special camouflage uniforms.
"That's one of the reasons we chose a Wednesday night, hoping that we could get more people in here and make it as big a night as possible," said Cotto, whose school also will have a safe driving presentation designed to highlight the dangers of texting while driving. "This is our first year and we plan on doing this annually."
Even without added attractions the game would still be entertaining. Marquette defeated Madison 56-43 on Dec. 7, getting 21 points from Deion Lavender and 16 from Jake Coddington.
Marquis Bourney had 20 points that night for Madison.
Madison (11-8) plays one of the toughest schedules of any small-school team in Southern Illinois and is 11th in the latest Class 1A state rankings.
Despite being in 1A, Madison has already played the Memphis University School, 17-1 St. Louis power Madison Prep, Mater Dei, state-ranked Mounds Meridian (17-4) and Robinson (18-2), Missouri state title contender Charleston and Class 3A Carbondale.
The Trojans also have added a road game Friday at Gibault (17-4), ranked fourth in 1A.
"That should be good with two 1A powers going at it," Cotton said. "People around the state definitely give us credit for our tough schedule."
Marquette (14-7) is making the jump from the 2A playoffs to 3A this season, but still has been receiving votes in the 3A state rankings. The Explorers have bumped up their scheduling degree of difficulty as well.
Bourney averages 18.9 points, backed by DiJon Bryant (9.3 ppg), Deontay Starnes (9 ppg), Carvel Dixon (8 ppg) and Johnny Meitzenheimer (7.4 ppg).
Marquette has lost three of its last five, but two of those defeats were to Cahokia and Collinsville, both much larger schools.
The Explorers' top scorers are Coddington (14.6 ppg), Lavender (13.5 ppg) and DeAntae McMurray 911.4 ppg, 40 3-pointers).