The Bishop Luers girls basketball team always seem to turn up at this time of the year.
The Knights (20-5) are one step away from another state finals appearance with a semistate matchup at Plymouth against Seeger (20-5) on Saturday.
Despite coming off a Class 2A state championship, the Knights seemed to slip off the radar with four losses before the holiday break and finishing without an SAC championship of any kind.
Luers coach Denny Renier isnt sweating the losses because the setbacks came against three of the best teams in Class 4A – South Side (twice), Snider and Hamilton Southeastern – and a 3A semistate team in Concordia.
We were in every (loss), Renier said. In those games, we just shot absolutely horrible. When you do that and you play good teams, you are probably going to lose those games. Had we shot the ball reasonably well, we would have won most of those games.
By Dec. 30, the Knights were 9-4 and had fallen out of the conference title picture. So late in the regular season, Renier put up a couple of numbers on the blackboard for the team to take a look at – 6 and 7. It represented the six regular-season games left and the seven playoff wins it would take for another state championship.
Luers is 11-1 in its last 12games.
I think we even won the game before doing that, but it was just that things were not where I wanted them to be, Renier said. It is just to remind the kids to just play each game and get better each game and in practice. That was kind of the turning point.
Thats what we did to give us a goal or something to shoot at.
Because of their reputation, the Knights always seemed to get opponents best efforts. That, combined with the depth of talent in northeast Indiana, led to some setbacks for Luers.
If I was another school, I would be like lets go knock them off their pedestal, Renier said. Thats natural, but I dont think that it is mean-spirited. We have been fortunate to have good players and good success in the tournament, so we go play the other schools and we are a little bit of a target. It is good competition, and it is good for the overall program.
Last years team was 24-2 and finished 7-1 in the SAC, claiming the regular-season title.
Not much has really changed for the tradition-rich program. The Knights advanced to semistate for a third straight year, and they have won a state title and been runner-up during the stretch. Luers leads the state with six state championships and eight semistate titles, and it is tied for third with 11 regional titles.
We have been through everything, Renier said. We thought we would have a tough game against Bowman Academy (a 73-37 win in the regional finals) because they are very athletic. I told the kids they cant play against any teams who play any harder than South Side and Snider, so we have been through that. All that experience and the veterans we have are big.