Girls’ Varsity Basketball Team No Push Over

Mae Mastin, staff writer

From a new head coach to a competitive spirit and good times together, Joliet West Girls’ Varsity Basketball team continues to focus on the positives of the 2014-2015 season.

Joliet West graduate John Placher returned to West this year to head up the team.

“I started coaching back in 1996 at Channahon Junior High. So I was there for almost 18 years and then I was hired [at Joliet West]…last year,” related Placher.

He related that the best part about this year’s basketball team is seeing how close they are with each other.

“I think our team is very close as girls…I see how close they are. And I think that’s very important to have a good team,” he observed.

From a locker room complete with music and laughter, senior Monique Williams reported on the positives of the season.

Williams, who has been on the varsity team for three years, agrees with Placher’s view on the team. She offered that her favorite part of the season has been “the memories we’ve made as a team.”

The team captain, she will play basketball at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, next year.

Placher focuses on this season, commenting that “this year’s team is very competitive.” He added, “Right now we’re going in the right direction to maybe do something at the end of the season.”

“We’re right there with everybody…so we’re excited about the future,” said Placher.

A successful season starts in early November with tryouts, where Placher looks for four qualities in prospective players.

“I look for competitiveness-how hard they play. Naturally athletic ability, basketball ability, and then if they’re a good kid. And… grades are probably the most important thing … grades are very important,” he explained.

The team has played in a few tournaments in addition to their games since the season started.

“We played … at [the] Lincoln-Way Central Thanksgiving tournament. We played three games there, and we…won one game against Plainfield North, and played the two Lincoln-Way schools,” recalled Placher.

During the holidays, the team headed west to Lansing, Illinois, for a tournament at Thornton Fractional (TF) South High School.

Playing in the Thornton Fractional tournament had exhilarating results for the Joliet West team.

“The exciting thing about the TF South tournament is we played the team that won the tournament – beat everybody by twenty – and we took them to overtime,” remembered Placher.

He added, “We could have won. It was close.”

Although the team has had more losses than victories this season, Placher says that they are “not a pushover.”

“We have a chance to beat the teams,” he said.