Daily Egyptian

Terriers enter regional as top dogs

By Thomas Donley, @TdonleyDE

The Murphysboro Illinois High School Association Class 3A girls basketball regional two weeks ago was one of the most competitive postseason pools in southern Illinois. 

Those same five schools—Muprhysboro, Carbondale, Herrin, Marion and Massac County—will meet in Metropolis this week for the Massac County boys basketball regional, but the competitive balance is not quite the same.

The Terriers are ranked No. 9 in Class 3A by the Illinois Associated Press and hold the top seed in the regional.

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“You have four teams, and then you have Carbondale,” Murphysboro coach Daryl Murphy said.

At 22-5, Carbondale has the best record in the group, just a game better than No. 2 seed Murphysboro (21-6). The two teams played Feb. 3. Carbondale won, 78-53.

No other team in the regional has a winning record. Third-seeded Marion ended the season with an 11-14 record.

The Wildcats did give Carbondale a close game Jan. 30, taking the Terriers to overtime before falling 53-52. Carbondale won the first meeting of the season 57-26 on Dec. 5.

Terrier coach Jim Miller said he and his coaching staff will try to make sure their players stay humble.

“As coaches, we don’t take anybody lightly,” Miller said. “But convincing 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids that teams are good, and you’re going to get their best game every time you step on the floor is a hard sell sometimes.”

Fourth-seeded Herrin (12-13) will take on fifth-seeded Massac County (11-13) at 7 p.m. Monday. The winner will face Carbondale in the semifinals. This is the third meeting between the Tigers and Patriots this season and the second in six days.

Herrin and Massac County split their two regular season meetings, the home team winning each time. 

Herrin coach Irv Lukens said the key for the Tigers is to play with the same type of intensity they did in the more recent matchup.

“The key is to keep it close,” Lukens said. “We’ve got to make our buckets and hopefully play the same kind of defense we did on them last time we played them.”

Neither Herrin nor Massac County played Carbondale in the regular season, but Lukens said his team would need to get lucky to beat the Terriers in a potential second-round game Tuesday.

“Carbondale is a pretty special team,” Lukens said. “We’d have to play a perfect game and hope they don’t shoot as well. But anything can happen in the postseason.”

After Carbondale takes on the winner of the first game at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Murphysboro and Marion will square off. The winner advances to Friday night’s title game.

Although the Red Devils and Wildcats have not met this year, Murphysboro coach Daryl Murphy said the second semifinal game looks close on paper.

“I think we’re pretty evenly matched,” Murphy said. “They’ve got some things we’ll have trouble guarding and I think we’ve got some things they’ll have trouble with.”

Marion enters the postseason in defense of its regional title from last year. The Wildcats upset Carbondale in the championship game of the 2014 Herrin regional, 54-53.

The winner of the Massac County regional will advance to the Carbondale sectional to take on the winner of the Effingham regional. The Effingham regional features Centralia High School, which is ranked No. 8 in Class 3A.

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.

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