When your team finishes 12-17, its best record in 10 years, then follows up with a 5-23 disaster, it's time to look in the mirror and admit that the status quo isn't good enough, that something monumental has to be done to turn the program around.
That's how Jordan Turner felt as he prepared for his senior year at Woodstock. The 6-foot-3 senior point guard had experienced some success as a sophomore but last year's bummer left a bad taste in his mouth. The second leading scorer in school history didn't want to go out on a losing note.
"When I came up to the varsity as a freshman, we went 0-10. The program sucked. When I was a sophomore, we won 12 games. It was a big deal, a good turnaround from where we were the year before. But last year was embarrassing. To be a team leader as a junior and not be successful was tough. It was a good motivator for this season," Turner said.
"The perception is Woodstock is a football town. It is pretty difficult to get people interested in basketball. The way to get people interested is to win. We got off to a 13-3 start. Beating Crystal Lake Central put us on the map. Now the stands are packed. I never saw so much basketball support at Woodstock in all the years I have lived here."
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Woodstock (19-10), which defeated Woodstock North 64-29 last Friday for its first regional championship since 2000, will begin its quest for a first sectional title against Rockford Lutheran on Tuesday night in the Class 3A sectional at Freeport. Turner paced the Blue Streaks with 18 points against Woodstock North.
"This group of seniors had the best off-season coming into this year of any team I've ever had," Woodstock coach Al Baker said. "They demanded more. They got into a fall league in Deerfield. They had the best participation at camps and put in the work.
"How bad was last year? We went through things early, things we had a hard time getting over. We lost kids for various reasons and we didn't fill in the gaps. We've had a turnover in coaches. It was a tough year."
It was even tougher for Turner, who played football as a junior and suffered a broken collarbone in Week 3. It proved to be a setback for basketball because he couldn't engage in full contact until the season opener and didn't get into the swing of things until after the team's fate had long been determined. Not surprisingly, he didn't play football as a senior.
Besides leading his team to the sectional, Turner has a bright outlook beyond high school. He likely will attend Illinois Wesleyan or North Central but also is considering Wisconsin-Whitewater and Augustana. Air Force is trying to recruit him for its prep school, but he is leaning toward staying closer to home.
Baker credits the leadership of his co-captains, Turner and 6-foot senior Andy Buhrow. Turner (18 ppg) is the second leading scorer in McHenry County and trails only Danny Hill on the school's all-time scoring list with more than 1,400 points in his four-year career.
"He is our leader, a no-nonsense kind of player," Baker said. "He took the leadership role in the off-season. He had a hard time last year. He didn't want to go through that again. He is very focused on the court. He is athletic and gets to the rim."
Turner and Buhrow, who played on the freshman B squad, but has developed into the best three-point shooter (63) in McHenry County, start with 6-foot-7 junior Damian Stoneking and 5-foot-10 senior Brad Kaufmann. Stoneking had nine points, seven rebounds and seven blocks against Woodstock North.
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The Blue Streaks trace their success to a balanced offense and a 2-3 zone defense. But Baker switched to a man-to-man for the first time in three months against Woodstock North and the strategy was very effective.
"To win 19 games this year and dominate in the regional and win the regional title for the first time in 13 years is a great feeling," Turner said.
Turner and Buhrow got together after last season and agreed that the 2012-13 squad had great potential. They persuaded and motivated their teammates to get involved in weight lifting and open gyms in the spring. And the energy carried over to the summer, where the team showed great promise.
"We knew we had potential," Turner said. "The attitude was changing throughout the entire program, from the freshmen to the seniors. All of a sudden, we had a winning attitude. It translated to November. Everyone was excited about the basketball season. We like our teamwork and our ability to share the ball on offense and get stops on defense."