||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
It takes some searching to find, but it’s there.
Tucked away among dozens of other yellow banners way up in the rafters of Carmel’s Salvi Gymnasium is a reminder of a different time. If you look long enough, there’s a particular banner that says “Boys Basketball, Regional Champions, 1992.”
That’s the last time Carmel’s boys basketball team won a regional title. Believe it or not, it’s also the last time the Corsairs had a winning season.
But rather than hide from that fact, Carmel’s coaching staff and players have chosen to embrace it — while also using it as a motivational tool.
“We do (talk about how dangerous we can be in the playoffs),” Carmel coach Tim Bowen said. “I even told our players that if we lose every game the rest of the way out, once we get into the regionals, that’s what matters most.
“Take the Quad Cities area. There’s a couple of schools there, for example, who each year wind up making it to the sectional championship with a .500 or a losing record. That’s because almost their entire schedules are filled with games against bigger, tougher schools.”
The Corsairs, who began the week with an 8-11 overall record, play in the loaded East Suburban Catholic Conference. Just how difficult is that?
It’s the same division as Benet (19-3), which was ranked No. 6 in the entire state in the latest Class 4A Associated Press Poll. Marian Catholic (20-3) was ranked No. 7. Also in Carmel’s division are Class 4A powers Notre Dame (18-2) and St. Viator (14-5). All four teams are also ranked in the Chicago Sun-Times’ Top 25.
Carmel, however, is the lone ESCC team that will play in the smaller Class 3A brackets once the postseason begins. Seedings for the state tournament will be released Feb. 7. The Corsairs are part of the 21-team Antioch Sectional.
“We really have been looking forward to the playoffs because of that fact,” Carmel senior forward Cullen Barr said. “But I also think we’ve been looking ahead to the playoffs too much. We need to buckle down the rest of the way so come playoff time, we are a dangerous team like we keep talking about, despite our record.”
Barr’s younger brother, 6-6 junior forward Michael Barr, talked about what Carmel’s first regional crown in 21 years might mean to his school and the community.
“We talk about it quite a lot,” Michael Barr said. “It’d be cool to be the first team at our school to do something like that in such a long time. It drives us and motivates us to play even harder. And I know it would help put Carmel basketball back in the spotlight again locally.”
A slew of tough and improving local teams — including Lakes, Grayslake Central, Wauconda, Johnsburg and Vernon Hills — could be in Carmel’s path to the sectional. It’s also the same sectional in which North Chicago, last year’s Class 3A state runner-up, will reside.
“It’s gonna make where we get seeded really important,” Michael Barr said. “Last year, we were a No. 6 seed and lost in the regional championship. Hopefully, this year it will be our turn.