Category: Basketball Stories

Basketball Stories are short stories about basketball, life and more basketball. If you like basketball, follow us here.

Senior Showcase Game

The inaugural Senior Showcase Game was pretty great! Bringing together nearly 40 high school seniors to play in an all-area game along with a NIC-10 game in front of nearly 20 college coaches is what it is all about. We look forward to finalizing the Game Highlights soon. In the meantime, here are BOTH games in their entirety. Share them up with family, friends and coaches.

Here is the full game for the All-Area Game on YouTube.

Here is the full game for the NIC-10 Game on YouTube.

While most of the eyes were on the players, there were local sports trainers like Gene Houston who kept complimenting the cameraman of the night. Check out the following pictures of young entrepreneurs Eric Steiner, Tamir Bell, Bailey Fisher and Jordan Alms set up and host an interview with former Indiana University, Milwaukee Buck and New York Knick Rod Wilmont after his coaches clinic.

Personally, watching these guys set up their mock interview room with tables and utilizing flipped over garage cans to balance their cameras 🎥 had to be the coolest thing that I saw all night. I couldn’t stop watching these young kids.

Thanks to all that participated, we can’t wait for the game highlights, interviews and seeing what these young bucks put together in the upcoming days.

Coach Jason Warner

The Bill Lavery House of the Running 1-Hander!!!

The Bill Lavery House of the Running 1-Hander!!!
Some say “runner” and some say “floater”! But is there a difference?
Most kids today are taught to do a right handed lay-up off their left foot. Conversely, these same kids are taught to do a left handed lay-up off their right foot.  This is great and the absolute best way to teach kids.  When we see this sequence of skills it looks right to most people and to most every basketball player in the United States; it feels right. I also believe that in 2nd or 3rd grade every coach in America deserves to do a happy dance when their last kid in line does a “fundamentally correct” lay-up on both sides of the rim. #happydance #fundamentals #happycoach
There are moves in basketball that change how a generation of kids play the game, the most recent one has certainly been the euro-step. This move is now a mainstay but it definitely took some time to catch on. When kids think of the best euro-steps in the NBA, they often think of guys like James Harden. However, let’s not forget guys like Manu Ginobili and Šarūnas Marčiulionis who walked the dog first.
If you’ve ever played defense and been beaten by a euro step, it’s a drowning in quicksand type of feeling. It makes you as a defender think, I am going to use this move the next time I am on offense.
If you have never been hit by a runner, it is similar to the feeling of being hit by a euro-step, just more confusing. It, at the very least is an eye opening experience but unfortunately it is still not in every kid’s bag like the euro is.
To spark this article, a friend sent me a video of the top 10 plays from MaxPreps. As I turned on the video, I heard the commentator say the words NOELLE LAVERY!!! At that moment, I knew what was coming. He didn’t need to tell me that the runner was coming, I knew it and couldn’t wait to watch it. In fact, I think I’ve watched it 25 times. See, her dad Bill Lavery coached pro basketball in the old CBA with the Rockford Lightning and had a runner that certainly could have been trademarked.
So, now I’m on a mission to find out more about Coach Lavery’s daughter. How’s she doing? What’s she averaging? Are any schools looking at her? The last time I was in the gym with Noelle, she was probably in 6th grade working on her game daily. Come to find out, she is almost averaging 19 PPG and 9 RPG at Rockford Christian High School as a junior with official visits to D2 schools scheduled after the season concludes. Wow! Love it! I look forward to checking out her Rockford Heat travel team play and watch her accolades continue to grow as a 3 year varsity starter in high school.
But, the question still exists; should it be called a runner or a floater?
The MaxPreps reporter in the video below called it a “floater” and after watching it, I don’t think anyone would argue that the ball floated through the air as if it was suspended at its peak just waiting to hit the bottom of the net in an instant. Yes, agreed; that was a floater!!!
(And now inside Coach Warner’s head for a brief paragraph.)
Yes, agreed; that was a floater!!! Or was it? What? I just convinced myself it was a floater, and now I’m wondering whether it’s a runner instead. Dude, you should know this. What will people think if you don’t know what you’re talking about? You are an idiot, that’s a runner…a floater…a runner…a floater!!! Ok, fine if the definition of a runner is to attack the basket off the dribble and right when the defender is on their heals, the driver turns it into a running shot, it should be a called a runner!!! Explained! Confirmed! End of Story!
(That was a scary place!)
Fine, needless to say I’m convinced I don’t really know, I need to call in the expert. So, I picked up the phone and called Coach Lavery himself. My goal was to find out; is it a runner or is it a floater? After several minutes of me complimenting Noelle on the time it takes to establish a move, it was determined that I was wrong on both accords and was not teaching my players the best terminology. Coach Lavery convinced me that the best term for the runner/floater debate is that it should be called a “running 1-hander” because that encompasses everything.
While I’ve mocked him for years about his unorthodox, yet effective shot, I continue to teach it to the younger players I coach in middle and high school but I have waffled in my naming of it depending on my mood. I do know this though, moving forward I will change my vernacular to describe the shot I teach as a “running 1-hander” based on that video and my investigative skills.
Through my years, I have always respected the coaches like the Don Meyers of the world or the Pat Sullivan’s who certainly could have coached at the highest levels but decided to teach not only players but coaches as well. I think what I learned most from guys like that is that nobody knows everything about the game of basketball and the more you seek out answers to basketball related questions, the better coach you become.
If by writing this I can encourage one coach to think outside the proverbial box of teaching “fundamentally correct” basketball, we will be one step closer to introducing the 1-handed runner to more kids and hopefully it can be quicker than the dwell period of the euro-step.
In the meantime, keep walking the dog Noelle, the rest of the country will hopefully see this and try to figure out how it works and we can get a new generation of kids coaching coaches the running 1-hander.
See out the 2 videos below.
  1. From MaxPreps top plays – showing off her running 1 – hander
  2. From Hudl top 5 plays – showing off her running 1  -hander
  3. A Hudl Video of some clips of Noelle
Coach Jason Warner
Check out the hudl video here
Check out the MaxPreps video here
Here are some additional highlights of Noelle.


Coach Goers, This is for You!

When people think of St. Joe’s basketball, they think of Gene Pingatore, Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons, and the movie Hoop Dreams with William Gates and Arthur Agee.  Hoop Dreams is a basketball classic, and certainly a part of coach Pingatores’ legendary status, but it’s his wins that matter to the Illinois basketball history book.

When it comes to winning high school basketball games, Gene Pingatore (St. Joes) along with Steve Goers (Boylan Catholic) know it the best, and are at the top of the list. Steve Goers finished his high school coaching career with 881 wins. After coaching at Bardolph, Oswego, LaSalle-Peru, Harvard and Rockford Boylan, Coach Goers retired and notched himself as #1 on the list in the state of Illinois.

While there are a lot of games that define the Steve Goers era, there are none that compare to his signature win against Chicago King that boasted two 7-footers named Rashard Griffith and Thomas Hamilton. To be the best, you need to play the best and that has always been a Coach Goers-ism. While coach Goers is certainly enjoying retirement watching his kids and grandkids grow up, it’s safe to say that he is still out there connecting the dots to make things like the upcoming game(s) happen.

Boylan Catholic Head Coach, Brett McCallister was an assistant to Coach Goers prior to his retirement and waited patiently for his turn at the helm. In his 3rd year, Coach McCallister is carrying on the Boylan tradition of searching out the top competition by heading to Westchester St. Joe’s on February 9th, 2019.  With this historic meeting, it’s going to make for some exciting basketball, that’s for sure. I know there is one retired coach who is certainly not going to miss his protege take on the now winningest coach in IHSA history; Gene Pingatore.

In addition to the meeting in Westchester this February, St. Joe’s will head to Rockford in 2020 to take on the Titans. As you could anticipate, these 2 games will be instant classics. Make sure you circle them on your schedule because they are going to be ones you will not want to miss.

Links to check out related to the story

Coach Pingatore – “I am a Teacher, This is my Classroom”

IHSA Boys Basketball All-Time Coaching Records

“King’s Towers” Story – Rashard Griffith and Thomas Hamilton

Coach Goers Retires – NBC Sports Chicago

Future Stories

Pingatore heads to Rockford Boylan, for the second time!?!?                               Did you know?  In 2020, it won’t be the first time Coach Pingatore heads into the Boylan gym!  He actually coached a game leading up to the Boylan – King game.

The “Coach Steve Goers Court”                                                                                           Is it time for the second winningest coach in IHSA history to be recognized for putting Boylan basketball on the state map?  Ie.  The “Coach Steve Goers Court”


Coach Jason Warner


Great Story! Better Man!

What a great story!!! It looks like the article is a couple weeks old but certainly still relevant.

His story is incredible and if you ever get a chance to catch Coach Brian Benning in retirement, introduce yourself, you will be glad you did!!! He is one of the good guys!!!

Take a second and read this article by Joe Dredge from 1440 WROK

Coach Jason Warner

Click the picture for the full story

Great story! Better Man!

Click the picture for the full story

Just Solve the Problem!

I get it!

Playing Division One (D1) basketball is the signature level for defining a player’s success.  According to the NCAA web-site only 1% of high school participants will play D1 basketball (see chart below).  Historically speaking, we have tagged our region as not successfully moving kids to the D1 level however it appears that statistically we are probably in the ball park and not that far off.

While I have previously written about how the Rockford region is a small college hot-bed in my blog ERIC PALM IS A PRO!, I also believe there are a few things we need to do to increase our kids’ chances of playing D1 basketball.  First and foremost, we need to help educate our student-athletes and parents about what it takes in the classroom to achieve their dreams of playing D1 basketball.  The best and easiest way to start the education process is for student athletes and their parents to understand the NCAA web-site inside and out.  This link (click here) provides a pretty simple outline for minimum requirements for eligibility.

While meeting NCAA standards should be a given, unfortunately it’s not and we need to change the culture of preparedness with kids at younger ages.

It’s pretty clear to me that the Rockford region is on the cusp of improving it’s basketball recruiting culture but after jumping back into the competitive high school game for a couple years, I am reminded of the fact that our kids need to take ownership of their grades.

Here is a list of a few simple concepts to understand and improve on…

  1.  Get a 4.0 or higher your freshman year.  OK, fine…maybe a 4.0 isn’t for everybody, but it is certainly easier to move your GPA your Freshman and Sophomore year than it is your Junior or Senior year.  Too many of our kids do not take high school seriously their freshman year and are climbing out of a hole when opportunities present themselves.
  2. Understand what CORE classes are!!  In laymen’s terms, D1 schools do not look at your PE class and your Foods class, they look at Math and English.  See link here to understanding CORE classes per the NCAA.
  3. Understand what your CORE GPA is!!!  A cumulative GPA is NOT the same as your cumulative CORE GPA.
  4. Hop on KHAN ACADEMY and practice the ACT and SAT practice tests!!!   Khan Academy is FREE and available to anyone.  This is funded by people like Bill and Melinda Gates and is a great resource to improve test scores at earlier ages.
  5.  Self-Educate yourself to meet and exceed these eligibility standards!  We need to understand what makes our kids eligible in high school doesn’t necessarily qualify them for college and that each school varies.
  6. Be an active participant in your own rescue!!!  Eligibility ultimately falls on the shoulders of our student-athletes but we as a community need to do a better job and make sure that our kids are meeting and exceeding eligibility standards.  Do not wait on your counselor, coach, teacher or administration to do this for you.  Once again, this ultimately falls on the student-athlete. Our student-athletes need to understand how to ask others for help/resources that are out there…but don’t wait on others, solve your own problems.

To be a hot-bed in basketball, we need to improve our culture and improve our kids’ grades/test-scores.  To be clear, here is what I have first-hand knowledge of when it comes to our region’s recruiting classes.  We have 8 boys basketball players that are currently working to improve their grades and/or test-scores to receive scholarships from varying colleges.  Among the 8 players, we have 17 schools that are either waiting on our kids to improve their test-scores or have completely passed on offering these players full scholarships due to their test scores not meeting eligibility standards.  To be clear, this is not what a hot-bed looks like, but when I say that we are on the cusp of becoming a hot-bed in boys basketball it couldn’t be more accurate.  I look forward to helping improve our recruiting culture.  Unfortunately, this is our region today but together we can change it.

Coach Jason Warner

Rockford Elite Basketball is currently working to build an educational component to our program which will focus on college preparation.



When John Beilein sits over your right shoulder…

The New York RENS (NY Renaissance) have kids offered by Duke, UCLA, Wisconsin, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc etc. etc. etc. etc. Being considered the best travel team in the state of New York, it would probably be understood that there was not a person in the gym that thought Illinois Stars Coach Knauf 17U team had a snowball chance in hell to pull this one off.

Soon, Coach Knauf’s team was up 19 points at half against high schoolers who had NBA bodies and were fully funded by NIKE. There had to be 350 fans, teams and spectators along with 50 college coaches who witnessed it. I’ve never seen anything like it!!!

While this April, May and July the Illinois Stars program continues to play, compete and beat UA Circuit teams, Adidas Silver/Gold teams and NIKE EYBL teams, this one had to be the biggest.

When John Beilein (Michigan) is sitting over your right shoulder, you knock off an EYBL team and your son (Jack Ivanic) gets recruited by D1 Cal Poly after the game, it’s a good day.

Jack Ivanic (Rockford Guilford) led the team with 22 points, Sincere Parker (Rockford East) 14 pts Caleb Donaldson (Bloomington) 13 pts, Beau Bailey (Dixon) 13 pts and Caymen Woods led area players in scoring.

Wait, wait, wait!!! Andre Thompson (Rockford East) had 4 points but continues to be the X factor in every game, works tirelessly to defend the other teams best player and will continuously be the energizer bunny, the Dennis Rodman or the glue guy who just makes everything work.  Hey Dre, I didn’t forget about ya. You earned it!!! Small colleges can’t sleep on this kid.

Coach Warner

Rockford Elite/Illinois Stars