Southwestern Illinois College's basketball coach has received many accolades for the more than 750 games his teams have won during his 35-year National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame career.
But Harrington's most important victory wasn't on the court. It was his win in the battle against thyroid cancer.
"In 1991, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I had my thyroid removed and had to undergo radiation," Harrington said. "I understand what people with cancer go through and even more so because every year I go back to be tested. No matter how bad I think things are, when I go back and I see how sick some of those people are, it makes me understand what is really important in life.''
On Wednesday, Harrington and the SWIC family will do their part in the fight against cancer when they host their annual cancer fundraising basketball doubleheader against Shawnee College.
The women's game begins at 5:30 p.m. The men's contest follows at 7:30 p.m. Fans are asked to wear teal, pink or blue -- which are the official colors of the fight against thyroid cancer.
Admission is free although fans are encouraged to make a donation to the V Foundation for Cancer research. This organization was founded by former North Carolina State University coach Jim Valvano and ESPN in 1993.
"As a thyroid cancer survivor, I am encouraging all SWIC fans to come out and cheer us on and support a great cause,'' Harrington said.
After losing an 83-80 overtime contest at home on Saturday against Lakeland College, the Blue Storm can use the support. In dropping to 18-7 on the season and 11-4 in the rugged Great Rivers Athletic Conference, the Blue Storm are two games in back of national power Vincennes.
The loss was the fifth at home on the season for SWIC whose seven setbacks have been by a combined total of 22 points.
On Saturday, in an effort to change its luck, SWIC broke out uniforms from more than a decade ago. But it didn't help as Lakeland tied the game with six seconds left in regulation. The Lakers then hit four 3-point shots in overtime to win.
"We're thinking of wearing the black (road) uniforms on Wednesday," Harrington said. "When you lose games like we have, you look at everything trying to find out the reason for it. I've looked at hours and hours of film the last two days. Every little thing becomes an issue.
"These things haunt you and haunt you. I've said over and over all year that something was missing from this team and I still can't quite put my finger on it.''
Tre Anderson had 21 points and Keanu Post added 19 for SWIC.
Ailing SWIC women fall
Tough losses weren't limited to the SWIC men as the Blue Storm women fell to Lakeland College 69-66 on Saturday.
The Lakers bolted out to a 24-5 lead in the first 10 minutes and SWIC, continuing to battle injuries and illness, could not recover.
"We played well for the last 30 minutes. The first 10 minutes we were just awful,'' Blue Storm coach Mike Juenger said. "It's tough right now. Janelle (Cannon) has a hurt finger, Breanna Baker went down, Mone'y Black is trying to play in games but she can't practice because she's in pain.
"Early in the season, we had 14 players and people thought we had too many. Well, we're down to seven and eight players now and the longest we've practiced in the last month has been 40 minutes because I can't afford to have anyone else go down.''
Still, SWIC is 16-5 on the season and has a legitimate shot at the No. 1 seed for the Region 24 Tournament. The postseason event begins in a mere two weeks.
"My dilemma is this. We've got six games in the next two weeks against teams who are on the bottom half of the GRAC standings. We should win most of them,'' Juenger said. "But how does playing those teams help me get mine ready to play Kaskaskia in the regular season finale with probably the No. 1 seed in the Region 24 Tournament at stake
Juenger said Monday that sophomore all-American and Louisville recruit Janelle Cannon is leading the nation in scoring at 23.2 points per game.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org