It was more than wins, losses for M.C.’s Megyese
When I spoke with Michigan City girls basketball coach Mike Megyese a few days after his team’s heart-crushing 61-59 sectional final loss to Kankakee Valley, it was more about appreciation of what his team had accomplished rather than what could’ve been for the Wolves.
He did want to alter his thoughts on what appeared to many, including himself, like a controversial charge call on versatile forward Trinity Thompson late in his team’s two-point defeat to the Kougars at Merrillville on Monday night.
“We had a lot of opportunities in that fourth quarter, but unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalize,” Megyese said. “Included in that was a play that I thought was a blocking call on a KV girl when Trinity went in for a layup and then I watched the film and boy, oh boy, it was certainly a charge. It’s definitely a situation we’d love to have back, but it is what it is. We’re still very proud of our kids for the work they put in.”
Outside of reminiscing on the offensive foul that was given to Thompson inside of the game’s final 70 seconds on Monday that could’ve potentially sealed the deal on the Wolves’ first sectional crown since 2012, Megyese spoke glowingly of his players for their sacrifices and hours in the gym progressing toward a 20-win season that had them within an eyelash of being among the final 16 teams in Class 4A.
“We had a great year and a great team, but that’s easy to do when you have great kids,” Megyese said. “I don’t think people know how hard we work and how much time we put in the offseason. It’s not that other teams don’t do that because they do, but our kids work so hard in the classrooms and in the gym. We’ll be in the gym next week, too.”
One of the harder aspects of next year’s squad for the Wolves will be replacing a quintet of Janicia Anderson, Joani Ashley, Naomi Ashley, Tee Coleman and Xavier commit Hannah Noveroske. Four of the five girls started virtually all season for the Wolves and Coleman was a spark plug off the Wolves bench, finding a niche as the team’s sixth man and coming through on more than a few occasions.
“You can’t replace them,” Megyese said. “I’m not talking just as basketball players either. You can’t replace them because a) they’re good basketball players and b) because they’re good kids. We appreciate them because they helped the younger kids see what’s expected of them. That’s what helped make this season so successful for us is because they just liked being around each other. They were good leaders. They worked so hard. Obviously, we’re not gonna have that X-factor at 6-foot-5 anymore (Noveroske), but we have some pieces that we like and we’re hoping that they’re the next good group to come through our program. Defense is going to have to be a bit more of a calling card for us, but we still feel we can be a good team, just a different team.”
A prime example of what those five meant to Megyese and the Wolves program as a whole this season, specifically in the postseason, could be felt when Megyese referenced an “exemplary sportsmanship report from the IHSAA” that was sent to him and the school on Thursday.
“We know we’re not the only school that gets these, but we were given one by the officials for our sportsmanship during in the tournament, especially in the final game,” Megyese said. “It’s easy to be good sports when you win the game, but what they said we showed in a losing effort was ‘exemplary’ and they complimented our kids and our program, and I’m pretty proud of that. It made me feel a little bit better.”
Despite his team being out of the tournament, there’s still one team Megyese will have his eye on as he travels to watch the La Porte Regional only as a spectactor today.
“We as a program would like to wish our city counterparts, Marquette, the best of luck and hopefully win a second state championship,” Megyese said. “We’d like to add that. This team only winning one state championship would not be deserving of their talent. We wish them all the luck in the world.”