Effingham Daily News
In two years at the helm of the Dieterich Movin' Maroons, Jeff Staser is 45-17 with a trip to the regional final in 2013, and regional and sectional crowns in 2014.
In the process, he's brought Dieterich to uncharted territory, as the Maroons will play in its first-ever Super-Sectional game tonight against Sesser-Valier at 6 p.m. at Southern Illinois University.
Staser has appreciated the outreach the Dieterich community has provided since Friday's sectional title win over St. Anthony, but like all coaches, moved the praise on to his players. He likened it to an orchestra.
"The conductor gets all the praise, but it's the musicians at the end of the day," he said. "It makes you feel really good after the things that happened Friday night. You meet and greet with the fans and his parents, the look on their faces and the praise thrown your way is amazing, really. I'm just trying to do my job, get the kids to play hard."
And play hard they have, with their work paying off as one of the final teams in Class 1A.
The Movin' Maroons now face the Red Devils of Sesser-Valier (22-10), who are fresh off a sectional title win over Cairo 58-49 Friday.
Before this season, Sesser had only advanced to the Super-Sectional round once, according to the IHSA wesbite, culminating in a second-place finish in 2010.
Dieterich is hoping for a similar outcome in their first trip to Super-Sectionals, but Staser said it's been about impressing the importance of the game without overselling it and putting pressure on the players.
"Part of it was to understand they're not a team that's going to overwhelm us," Staser said. "We're going to stay with the same gameplan, execute, execute, execute."
Staser said the Red Devils run everything through point guard Nick Marlo, while Tyler Baxter and Jordan Gunter can also put the ball in the basket. Nick McCarty, a 6-foot-4 forward, adds some size to a smaller team.
As it has been all season, the Maroons will look to adapt to the defense and not force things. If that means pushing the tempo like Sesser likes, Dieterich will do that, and they'll slow down if necessary as well.
"We'll continue to play our game as we have, get the ball down the floor and survey our options," Staser said. "If we have to set up, be more patient, and execute in the half court, that's what we'll do."
McCarty is 6-foot-4 and Gunter is 6-foot-2, which doesn't quite measure up height-wise with Devin Aherin (6-foot-6) and and Travis Niemerg (6-foot-5) on the Dieterich frontline.
St. Anthony had a smaller front line and held Aherin relatively in check, while Niemerg scored 13. But Staser was quick to point out their importance beyond the box score for the perimeter players in Nick Feldhake, Alex Bohnhoff, Tanner Traub and Lance Niemerg.
"The hard part for fans to recognize is even though you're not getting touches, what Devin and Travis are able to do open up the outside for us," he said. "You can post people up, force them and take the defender and shield for our plays."
Neither team made it out of the regional round last year, with Dieterich losing to Oblong in their regional final, while Sesser lost to Steeleville in the regional semis.
Now, both are playing for a trip to Peoria, and Staser obviously hopes it's his boys who will keep their season alive at 6 p.m. tonight at the Class 1A SIU Super-Sectional.
"The kids have put in a ton of time and effort, for our sake, we're hoping they can continue the ride," he said.