With his wife, Kim, ready to give birth to their first child, Annawan girls' basketball coach Jason Burkiewicz was wondering whether impending fatherhood would impede on preparations for this week's Lincoln Trail Conference tournament.|
However, Burkiewicz's newborn son delivered an assist of his own with his birth this past Friday. "He's already a good boy,'' Burkiewicz quipped. "He picked the right time. He wasn't due until (this) Wednesday, but he played that right.''
Now, Burkiewicz can turn his attentions back to making sure his Bravettes continue to "play (it) right.'' The regular-season LTC leaders at 7-0 and the conference tournament top seed, Annawan begins its tourney run tonight at 7 against Mercer County (5-16), looking to make it three consecutive titles.
"That was one of the goals we put down at the beginning of the year, to make it three in a row,'' said Burkiewicz, whose 16-2 club has also won the last two regular-season LTC titles. "But there's been some situations in the past where there's been some interesting games on this level, so in this tourney, you just never know. We're the No. 1 seed, and we've got to follow through.''
That begins with getting by the Golden Eagles tonight in Annawan, a team the Bravettes recently handled 60-31. Burkiewicz isn't worried about his players looking past Mercer County to Thursday's semifinals at United High School.
"We've had enough experience over the years as being one of the top teams, so we know to take it one step at a time and don't get ahead of ourselves,'' he said. "You've got to stay in the present.''
Lady Geese ready for Ridgewood rematch:Several weeks have passed since Wethersfield bested Ridgewood 51-38 in league play. Since that time, the sixth-seeded Spartans (8-9) have started to hit their stride.
That makes tonight's tournament quarterfinal matchup in Kewanee all the more interesting as the third-seeded Lady Geese (17-4) try to book themselves a semifinal spot Thursday night at 7:30 in rural Monmouth.
"Sometimes that first-round game is a scary one,'' said Wethersfield coach Becky Ince. "You've got to get the kids to focus on the fact that, hey, if we don't win this one, we don't get the opportunity to play for a title. Ridgewood is very well-coached; Bryan Brooks has been in those situations where he's coached in championship-type games or upset some people.
"Playing a quality opponent such as Ridgewood, we haven't talked about any other games. This past Saturday, we prepared for either them or Princeville (which lost 55-48 to the Spartans in the opening round). The girls are ready, and they know we've got to play our best ball to win.''
Galva seeks upset; ROWVA looks to beat the Heat:In tonight's other two quarterfinal-round matchups, the seventh-seeded Galva Lady Cats hope to work a little upset magic against No. 2 seed Stark County at Wyoming. Meanwhile at Biggsville, fifth-seeded ROWVA hopes to literally beat the Heat as they face No. 4 West Central in both teams' tourney debut.
Tourney history:Since the LTC began its conference basketball tournaments in 1999, Stark County and Wethersfield are tied for the most titles with four apiece. The Lady Rebels won four of five crowns between 1999 and 2003 (with Wethersfield winning in '01); the Lady Geese won three straight from 2005-07. Annawan has three titles (2009, 2011-12), Princeville two (2004, 2010) and West Central one (2008).