We are now a decade removed from Libertyville High School’s boys basketball team playing during sectional week of the IHSA tournament.
We’re also a decade into tagging the Wildcats’ program seemingly annually with four words that aren’t all good, and conversely aren’t all bad: Best of the rest.
In the last decade, great players have honed their games in the North Suburban Conference Lake Division, and great teams have emerged from the league to challenge for a state title.
And all the while, Libertyville has been right there, a threat to win on any given night, but always a spectator when March Madness gets serious.
So as the 2014-2015 season approaches, you have to know that the Wildcat players are eager to make a breakthrough in a league that figures to be ruled by Stevenson with Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw, and Lake Forest with Evan Boudreaux.
Is it their time? Is the Orange & Black back?
This fall, the players are spending Sundays competing in the prestigious Let’s Play Hoops League at the Libertyville Sports Complex.
And when you walk into huge facility, the first player you notice is the tallest player on any of the courts: Libertyville’s 6-10 Joe Borcia.
And rest assured, on the hardwood, he’s no ordinary Joe.
Among the NCAA Division 1 schools looking at him are Drake, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois, and some Ivy League and Patriot League schools.
“My decision will probably come at the end of the year,” Borcia said.
Right now, the focus is on elevating Libertyville in a league that’s already plenty elevated on its own. He knows he is the linchpin.
“I’m just looking to dominate. My team is really going to look to me,” he said. “I need to be aggressive every game. It’s all about mindset really.”
The center is the only returning full-time starter from last year’s 15-13 team, though returnee Conor Peterson did get some spot starts.
“There are going to be a lot of new faces,” Borcia said. “Early on, it might look bad, but we should pick up some wins in the Thanksgiving tournament (facing Maine West, Maine South King from the Chicago Public League and Alcott from the CPL).
“We’re going to look different, especially to begin with,” Borcia added. “I think we have the talent for guys to step in and be better than people expect.”
Which is a good thing, and important, too.
“Last year, we had talent. We lost our point guard (Drew Cayce) before the season when he transferred to LaLumiere (Ind.),” Borcia said. “Jack (Lipp) did a good job, but he wasn’t a true point guard. We were slow defensively, and fatigue was definitely an issue. I do think we had the talent to play with Lake Forest and Lake Zurich, but we didn’t put it together.”
This year may be THE year to put it together.
“In the conference there’s obviously Stevenson and Lake Forest. I’ve played against those guys for two years already,” Borcia said. “They’re very good, both of them. You look at everybody else, though, and Warren has lost guys like us. Zion-Benton has lost guys. If we can beat those teams, and I think those games should be competitive, we can put together a pretty nice conference season.”