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Disabato: Stagg vs. Andrew is reason for excitement

Andrew Stagg will meet for third time this seasthis time Thursday Class 4A Sandburg Regional. | File photo

Andrew and Stagg will meet for the third time this season, this time Thursday in the Class 4A Sandburg Regional. | File photo

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Updated: April 1, 2013 11:46AM



If Stagg coach John Daniels had his way, his Chargers would be competing against someone other than Andrew on Thursday night in a Class 4A Sandburg Regional semifinal.

“We’re in the same conference and we’ve played each other twice already,” Daniels said. “Playing someone that knows you so well takes the coaching somewhat out of it. What am I going to do that (Andrew coach) Mike (O’Halloran) doesn’t know about? It’s frustrating. As a coach, I’d prefer to play somebody different this soon.”

I like Daniels a lot and have the utmost respect for him. He’s transformed Stagg into a winning program year in and year out.

But he, along with maybe O’Halloran, might be the only two people who aren’t looking forward to Stagg vs. Andrew, Part 3.

The players are excited, the fans are excited and, personally, I’m excited.

Through the years, the Chargers and Thunderbolts, members of the District 230 family along with Sandburg, have built up quite a rivalry.

While there’s genuine respect among the players and coaches, there’s also an underlying desire to kick the living you know what out of the other.

The two teams nearly did just that at a game during the 2010-11 season at Stagg until cooler heads prevailed.

Then there’s the added excitement of the competing student sections, which elevates the rivalry to Catholic League intensity.

“If we were playing Andrew for the regional championship, I’d be fine with it,” Daniels said. “But playing Andrew right out of the chute like this just isn’t right.”

Well, the blame for the semifinal pairing can squarely be laid on the coaches who voted Andrew a No. 11 seed.

The Thunderbolts (14-11) suffered a few losses when stud Jubril Adekoya was out with an injury.

Coaches who failed to do their homework based Andrew’s seed position exclusively on wins and losses and, to some extent, reputation.

And since coaches now submit their seeds by computer and not in a room with one another, there’s no way coaches can question one another and possibly accurately influence a seed, for better or worse.

“Coaches seed based on record and record only,” said Daniels, whose Chargers (18-8) earned a No. 6 seed. “Coaches didn’t know Jubril was out.”

Adekoya is averaging 19.9 points and 11 rebounds per game. So yes, he significantly can alter a game.

Coincidentally, one of those losses without Adekoya was to Stagg, 66-35 on Feb. 1.

That’s quite a different outcome from when the two teams played Dec. 7, when Andrew won 66-56. Adekoya was in the lineup that night, registering 19 points and 16 rebounds.

He scored 20 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in an 81-51 Andrew win over Stagg on Dec. 9, 2011. He followed that performance with a 20-point, nine-rebound effort in a 51-40 victory Feb. 3, 2012.

I don’t know how much of an impact he would have made on the 31-point loss 27 days ago.

Stagg played excellent ball that night and I doubt it could have been denied victory.

But I’m fairly confident Sean Dwyer, Max Strus, Kevin White, Kamil Barnas and Stagg’s seniors want to prove that victory was no fluke — just as much as Adekoya and fellow four-year varsity player Glorind Lisha want to prove it was an aberration.

On Thursday night, both teams get a chance to prove it.

“Jubril didn’t play, but we played well,” Daniels said. “It was one of the better games we played all year. I’m not happy to play Andrew, but the kids are really looking forward to it.”

They’re not alone.



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