Bob Szorc's lasting image of Wharton Field House is simply walking into the venerable facility.|
"You get a special feeling," the former Alleman and current Wheaton Warrenville South boys' basketball coach said earlier this week. "Arguably one of the best places to play in Illinois."
Then he recalls the last time he coached there.
"(Former Moline guard Anthony) Lindauer went off for 31 points," Szorc said.
Saturday could provide a better memory.
For the first time in nearly two years, Szorc will coach at Wharton as Wheaton Warrenville South participates in the first-ever Quad-Cities/Wheaton Shootout. Szorc is considered the mastermind of this event, hoping to provide the three suburban schools — Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North and Wheaton St. Francis — "a great opportunity to play in a great venue."
The three-game event starts at 4:30 on Saturday afternoon with Alleman taking on Wheaton St. Francis. That game is followed by the Rock Island vs. Wheaton North clash and the finale pitting Moline vs. WWS at 7:30.
"It's a great fit for our kids," Szorc said. "The venues up here (in the west suburbs) can't replicate anything in the (Western) Big 6 (Conference)."
A chance to play in a historic venue played a role in Szorc helping to create this event. Another factor was his respect for an area that provided him with his first head-coaching position. In two years at Alleman, he led the program to a pair of Class 2A regional titles before moving to Wheaton Warrenville South after the 2011 season.
"It's a great area with great people," Szorc said. "We've still got great contacts out there. There still are people I'm very, very close with."
About a year ago, Szorc thought about bringing his team to the Quad-Cities for a game "to do something different." Hoping to get a game that would benefit his team, he wanted to set up a shootout at Wharton.
Wheaton St. Francis and Wheaton North agreed to make the two-hour jaunt west. Everything was finalized this fall.
Next year, the shootout shifts to Rock Island Fieldhouse. The tentative plan has the shootout rotating from Moline to Rock Island every other year.
"You can't beat the deal that we get to stay in the Quad-Cities every year," Rocky coach Thom Sigel said.
What nixed the long-running Quad-Cities/Peoria Shootout two years ago was local teams hosting once every four years. The current setup keeps the event here, a plus for the fan base and a financial boost.
Will the suburban teams want this format to continue?
"On our end, absolutely," Szorc said. "It's a date that's set in stone. It's something we want to do every year."
For now, the same six schools are tentatively slated to appear in the next edition, but it could expand, possibly by adding United Township.
An extra bonus is playing unfamiliar schools from the Chicago suburbs.
"Sometimes people make too much out of playing potential postseason opponents," Sigel said. "It would be nice to play teams further down south, but they're four hours away. You'd have to organize a shootout somewhere in the middle to do that.
"This isn't the case, but there are times people say you want to play teams you can play in the postseason. That can be an advantage to the opponent. Playing teams from different parts of the state can be good."
Szorc believes that, so he found a win-win situation.
All three teams will stay overnight and return back to Wheaton on Sunday. Plus, they get to play in Wharton Field House.
"A picture or video is not going to simulate that experience," Szorc said. "But it's something you want your kids to have if they play high-school basketball."
Metro boys' basketball writer Daniel Makarewicz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @danmak57
Big 6 boys' standings
School W-L Conf.
Quincy 13-4 5-0
Galesburg 13-11 4-1
Rock Island 14-4 3-2
Moline 13-9 1-4
Alleman 6-12 1-4
UTHS 3-16 1-4
Tonight's games (all 7:30 p.m.)
Alleman at Rock Island
Moline at Galesburg
United Township at Quincy
Moline, IL Details
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