Girls Basketball Notebook: Lincoln-Way North’s Nair finally turns tide on East’s Martin
Best friends since they met in 1998, girls basketball coaches Jim Martin, of Lincoln-Way East, and Jim Nair, of Lincoln-Way North, have shared a lot of good times. They often scout together, and play golf together.
One thing they didn’t share was victories over one another.
East beat North the first six times the teams played since North’s program began in 2008. Four times it was in the title game of the Lincoln-Way East Medieval Classic.
North finally broke the spell on Dec. 28, making a dramatic second-half comeback from a 13-point deficit to win 54-52 and claim the Medieval Classic championship.
Nair said he learned one thing during the handshake.
“He (Martin) is a much better loser than me,” Nair said, good-naturedly. “Knowing each other so well and being well-prepared for the games against East and still losing was extremely frustrating for me.
“I am not a good loser. I must get this from my mom (who goes to every game), because she would not speak to Martin after each of our losses.”
Nair and Martin met when they were hired as teachers at Lincoln-Way. At the time it was just one school. They both were brought into the girls basketball program.
“Don Hayes took us in and I was the sophomore coach and Nair was the freshman coach,” Martin said. “When the school split I got the job at (Lincoln-Way) East and Jim came with me as an assistant coach. He was also my sophomore coach for a few years as he wanted to coach his own team before he got the job at North (in 2008).
“We have done a lot together, with my wife and his wife, going to movies, dinner, golf. I have watched his kids grow up from the time they were born.”
In their first meeting as opposing coaches, Martin’s Griffins beat Nair’s Phoenix 46-44 to claim the 2009 Medieval Classic crown. It began a string of head-to-head showdowns that always tipped East’s way.
“I don’t think there was a jinx on North,” Martin said. “We had some really good teams the years we beat them.
“I am real happy for Jim (finally winning). He is a hard-working coach who puts in a lot of time and dedication to his players. I hope he has learned some of that from me.”
During their first year of coaching together, Nair’s daughter, Sam, was born. She is now a member of Martin’s freshman team at East.
“The next few years will be interesting,” Jim Nair said. “I could possibly know his players better than him. I coach my daughter and many of her East teammates in club ball.
“Losing to my daughter and her friends might be more frustrating,” he added, laughing. “So we are going to need to win.”
Player of the Week
Elizabeth Nye, of Mother McAuley, is this week’s SouthtownStar Girls Basketball Player of the Week.
Nye, a senior guard, had 34 points and eight assists in leading the Mighty Macs to a 59-45 victory over Crete-Monee on Saturday. Nye was 5-of-9 from the field and 21-of-24 from the free-throw line.