Flying high

Eagles approach post-season tourney


Akari Oya

Putnam County’s Alec Veverka drives to the hoop for two of his 12 points during the Eagles FEb. 9 one-point loss to the Highland Cougars, 67-66. Veverka averages just over 6 points per game for the Eagles.

IV Leader Staff

A 20-win season is still on the radar for the men’s basketball team with a few games remaining in the regular season, and the post-season quickly approaching.

As of press time, the Eagles hold a 17-10 record with three games left in the regular season schedule.

“We could get 20 maybe,” coach Chris Herman said, when looking at the remaining contests vs. Sauk Valley, Black Hawk and Carl Sandburg, plus the upcoming regional tournament.

If so, the team’s wins this season will continue to be a testament to the team’s defense, which Herman describes as “dangerous.”

“They know they can do it when they bear down and play defense,” Herman said. “We are dangerous because of our defense.”

The team’s best defensive efforts this season, according to Herman, have been the Eagles one-point loss on Feb. 9 to Highland and the team’s Dec. 3 win over Parkland, when the Eagles held the ninth-ranked team in the nation to 57 points.

Herman describes the team’s defense as a more of a Wisconsin type of defense where the Eagles have been packing players in the paint to prevent opposing offenses from getting to the rim and “not gambling as much.”

Defense almost won the game against Highland, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the conference, Herman said, except for a few three point makes by Highland and a few free throw misses by the Eagles. The Eagles currently remain in second place in the Arrowhead Conference.

In the upcoming Region IV Tournament, the Eagles expect a No. 3 seed if the season polls hold true to form. The Eagles have been ranked third most of the year behind Triton and South Suburban. Final regional rankings will come out Feb. 24. If the Eagles are seeded fourth or higher, they will host a home game in the first game of the regionals. If they prevail there, they will move on to the semifinals, which will be played March 5 at Waubonsee.

The Eagles have been led this year by Ricky Calvin, Keymonta Johnson and L-P grad Brady Huebbe. Calvin leads the team with 14.6 points per game, followed by Huebbe with 13.6, and Johnson with 12.6.

Behind those three, Herman has settled into Putnam County grad Alec Veverka and Johnson’s Decatur MacArthur teammate Dallas McClain to round out the starting five.

Veverka has been “very solid defensively,” according to Herman. Veverka gets his rebounds, has improved defensively on shot block and is able to surprise teams with his athleticism, Herman said.

McClain has proven an offensive threat, like the 20-points he put up against Kishwaukee recently, and has the ability to settle the team on the court, Herman said.

“We’ve been a pretty resilient bunch,” Herman said. “We have not used youth as an excuse all year. We have a pretty tough schedule that we’ve put together, and our road wins early showed that we can get competitive and win.”

Herman’s team has won six road games this year compared to one last year.

The Eagles coach also has already started recruiting for next season.