At long last De’Antae McMurray is fully healthy. And the Southwestern Illinois College is at the top of its game.
The Blue Storm’s sophomore point guard, McMurray scored a season-high 28 points and directed the offense to perfection as SWIC ran its winning streak to 10 games with an 85-70 win over Wabash Valley College before a large home crowd on Saturday.
An Alton High School graduate, McMurray missed time early in the season with a heart ailment. But after slowly working himself back into one of the elite junior college point guards in the midwest, McMurray is a major reason why SWIC (16-4) continued to roll with the victory over the Warriors.
“I think with health problems early in the season, it scared De’Antae more then anything else. It’s your heart. Who wouldn’t be scared?” Blue Storm coach Jay Harrington said. “When he got the clearance to return, we took it slow with him and De’Antae has just gotten stronger and stronger the last couple of games.”
“Against Wabash (Valley) on Saturday, he just dominated the game.”
Sophomores Quan Poindexter and Chris Galbreath added strong play while former Freeburg standout Justin Dieker continued to be a force in the post for the Blue Storm which gained a measure of revenge against the Warriors who handed SWIC A 79-78 loss in November.”
The win puts the Blue Storm alone in third place in NJCAA Region 24 play with a 7-3 mark behind Vincennes University and John A. Logan College. With 11 regular season games remaining, the victory over Wabash Valley also assures that SWIC will have A winning season.
But playing as well as anybody in Region 24, the Blue Storm has its sights set on much more then just a winning season.
“We haven’t peaked yet. There are still a lot of things we can still improve on,” Harrington said. “The coaching staff of myself, Steve (Campo) and Norm Toenjes spend a lot of time watching film and getting to know what players on the opposing teams are doing and our guys have done a great job of listening and then putitng what we are telling them into good use. It’s been a total team effort.”
“What this allows (assistant coaches) Ramon Kelly and Stetson Hairston to do is go out and recruit. We’re going to need 11 new players next year.”
While McMurray was the star of the day on Saturday, others stepped up.
“Chris (Galbreath) and Quan (Poindexter) had games. Quan is just so consistent and we also got a real nice game from Dez (Marshall). He’s going to be a key for us the rest of the way,” Harrington said. “I also can’t say enough about Justin (Dieker). He’s a player who has been injured but he goes out and plays hard every night.”
“And Bo Burkhart is a player I’ve been hard on. But he’s probably our best defensive player right now. He’s done a great job.”
SWIC faces a major challenge on Wednesday when it travels to John A. Logan College in Carterville to take on the Volunteers. John A. Logan defeated SWIC 87-77 earlier this season.
“No doubt. John A. Logan is the most talented team in the region,” Harrington said. ‘They’re a handful.”
The women’s game begins at 5:30 p.m. with the men’s game to follow at 7:30 p.m.