After Michigan City’s 41-37 grinder win over Lake Central on Friday night at home — which was a first this season as head coach John Boyd cynically stated before the victory (“If we can ever win a DAC home game …”) — the Wolves only have one more regular season contest.
And after that final game next Friday at Merrillville, City will have at least 11 days off before hosting its Class 4A sectional.
That will be plenty of time to reflect on a great season, which we can do right here, right now.
Friday’s win was City’s 17th of the season — a first since Rogers and Elston consolidated in 1995.
Boyd also topped the 100-win mark at City (102 now) and is sitting at 249 for his career.
Considering the new high school has never won a boys basketball sectional title, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this is the best Wolves’ season in those 22 years.
Not-so-coincidentally, City has 10 seniors who have all garnered playing time this season, though Boyd was told a long time ago having that many isn’t a good thing.
“I had nine seniors on a team at (Gary) West Side and my assistant, Ivory Brown, told me not to ever carry that many because the next year will be tough to watch,” Boyd said.
Thing is, that West Side team with nine seniors was 2002, when it won the IHSAA Class 4A state title. So maybe, just maybe, that’s a good omen for these Wolves.
“This is a special brand of brothers, always encouraging each other,” Boyd said about the 10 seniors. “When this class came in, I knew it would be a game-changer.”
Even though City has a record 17 wins, the season has been a roller coaster ride. The Wolves are 3-3 in the Duneland Conference, tied for third place behind Valparaiso and Crown Point, both of which are 5-1 in the conference and both represent a high and a low for the hometown heroes.
City handed Crown Point its first loss at home in almost two years, while Valpo pulled off a close win at the Wolves Den when the hosts probably should have won.
There was also a road win at Portage, but a disappointing loss at home to Chesterton.
"Consistency and hitting our free throws late in games,” Boyd said when asked what City needed to improve as the postseason approached. “They need to believe in our system, rise to the occasion and do the little things to be a champion."
The schedule this year might be the toughest Boyd has put together in his eight years at City. The holiday break saw the Wolves play four games at the Rich South (Ill.) tourney (winning three out of four) and then the next day traveling to Detroit, Michigan, to get another win (49-48 over Detroit Pershing). So not only does City seem to be prepared more than in previous years for the postseason grind, but those 11 days off after Friday will be a welcome respite.
“We’re going to face different styles in different environments in the tournament, so that’s why we loaded up during the holidays,” Boyd said. “We’ve needed that time (off next week). We have a high-volume schedule, so it’s nice to get the kids’ legs under them at the end of the season.”
All of that is wonderful, but it doesn’t matter if the Wolves can’t get out of sectional for the 22nd straight year.
“It’s evaded Michigan City for a while,” Boyd said, referring to postseason success. “It’s a tough trek, but we’re building the mentality to be a championship program.”
Reach sports editor Steve T. Gorches at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.