The Southwestern Illinois College Blue Storm heads into the final week of the regular season reeling but still with a lot of hope.
Losers of five of its last eight games, the SWIC men's basketball team needs only to post wins at Southeastern Illinois College on Wednesday and at home on Saturday against Kaskaskia to secure either the second of third seeds for the Region 24 Tournament, which begins on March 6 at Rend Lake College in Ina.
Vincennes College, which nipped SWIC 71-68 on Saturday, is 17-2 and has the top-seed wrapped up. Lake Land College and SWIC are both 12-6 and hold a one-game lead over John A. Logan College (11-7) and 1 1/2 game edge over Wabash Valley (10-7). Most teams have two region games left.
Confused yet all of this?
"What it comes down to is if we win the last two games, we will be no worse than the third seed with a shot to be the No. 2 seed because Lake Land has two tough games left,'' veteran SWIC coach Jay Harrington said. "If we split the last two, it could move us down. If we stay either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed, it keeps us away from Vincennes until the final."
That will be a tough game.
"Can we beat Vincennes? Well, we lost by three points at their place on Saturday when we had 19 turnovers," Harrington said. "They have 51 straight wins at home and if Brandon Book's 3-point shot goes in instead of rolling out at the buzzer, we're in overtime and who knows would have happened. We can beat Vincennes. But we could also lose to any other team in the region. It's been that kind of year."
Sophomore Keanu Post led SWIC against Vincennes with 25 points and 13 rebounds. The offensive production came despite being double and triple teamed throughout. Post was fouled 14 times during the game and made 11 of 13 from the foul line.
"Keanu continues to get beat up inside,'' Harrington said. "We had a chance to win the game and once again we made unforced turnovers which cost us.''
All-American Janelle Cannon is red-hot. And so is the Southwestern Illinois College Blue Storm women's team.
Cannon, the 5-foot-9 University of Louisville recruit, made six 3-point shots and scored a career high 41 points as SWIC clinched a 20-win season on Monday with an 88-46 win over Lincoln Trail College.
The offensive outburst was the third in a row for Canon who tallied 37 and 31 points in wins over Vincennes and Shawnee the last two weeks.
Cannon also has 16 3-point baskets in those three games. Cannon leads the nation in scoring (24.8) not counting her 41-point effort on Monday.
"She's put on a show,'' Blue Storm coach Mike Juenger said. "I didn't say anything to her. I think she realizes that this it and that the postseason is almost here.
"Shooting 3-pointers is something she's never done a lot of. If she adds that part to her game, she'll be almost unstoppable.''
Cannon, along with sophomore Danielle Duncan, also have SWIC at 20-5 for the season and on the verge of clinching the top seed for the Region 24 Tournament, which begins Tuesday at Rend Lake College in Ina.
SWIC needs to beat Southeastern Illinois College and Kaskaskia to clinch the top seed.
The No. 1 seed would be an amazing accomplishment for the Blue Storm which has been injury-riddled the last month of the season. SWIC had just six players at practice on Tuesday.
"We're just getting by,'' Juenger said.
Duncan, who at age 26, is showing she can still play with the 'kids,' has also had a great season. The former O'Fallon standout is averaging 12.3 points per game with 63 3-point baskets and is shooting 35 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
"Danielle is just amazing," Juenger said. "She's playing basketball, going to school, working a full-time job and is a full-time mom with a seven-year-old son. Honestly, I don't know how she does it. She wants to and will have the chance to play basketball next year.''
SWIC will honor its sophomores during "Sophomore Day" on Saturday when it hosts Kaskaskia College.
The women's game starts at 1 p.m. with the men to follow at 3 p.m.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org