Have to say I was very impressed with the Genesis Shootout this past weekend. And this is coming from someone who feared it would be a very long day in my sportswriting role.

In reality, it was a lot of fun for sportswriters and fans alike. It’s a great event — very well run in a timely fashion, too. And we are lucky to have it. As everyone knows there’s generally not enough competition between the schools across the river from each other, and hasn’t been for decades, save for this event.

But this is one fine event. And the Iowa vs. Illinois aspect just adds to it. Illinois leads 11-10 with two ties in 23 years. Iowa could easily tie it up next year. It has won the last two years and four of the last five.

Hats off to the Iowa high schools, who clearly came to play. It did seem to me that it meant more to them. Not that the Illinois coaches and schools weren’t giving their best. They were. But winning this thing means something to Iowa.

The Illinois schools seem to have fallen into the space formerly occupied by U.S. Olympic basketball. We are supposed to win. Let’s show up and win.

It no longer works that way. Summer basketball competition between area high schools on both side of the river, much like global basketball competition which has led to more competitive Olympics, has increased awareness and improved competition. Plus for the Iowa schools, this is a major showcase. Illinois schools have their Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday tournaments, so to them, I think, this feels like just one more, with the holiday tourneys right around the corner.

Excluding the postseason, which every high school team has a shot at, this is it for the Iowa schools. And generally speaking they played like it.

I realize some will say, wait a minute, if you subtract Geneseo and Riverdale, Illinois won three of the other five with Alleman, United Township and Moline all picking up wins. And I realize, whomever played Davenport Central on Saturday was running into a buzzsaw of a talented team ready to showcase itself in a showcase. Good for them.

But both sides of the river had teams facing tough foes the night before, so there’s one excuse that does not hold up.

I would love to see Rockridge at this event somehow next year. They would bring fans, and likely a very worthy team. They clearly have it going out there.

Get breaking news sent instantly to your inbox

But Illinois teams — if they aren't already — should take this very seriously. You are playing for your state, and that should mean something. You are playing for the Illinois side of the river, and that should mean something. Illinois pride needs to return. Take nothing for granted.

Hatch heads to Pioneer Hall

Jay Hatch, who coached both state softball champions and a state girls basketball champion at Alleman High School during his tenure, heads a list of three athletes and one team being inducted into the Alleman Hall of Fame Jan. 27.

Hatch no longer coaches either sport at Alleman where he remains well respected as a teacher. He now assists United Township boys basketball and is the head coach of the Bettenforf High School softball team.

Introductions will take place during halftime of the Alleman-Quincy boys basketball game with the induction to take place in the cafeteria after the game.

Also being inducted with Hatch are basketball and track standout Megan Manning from the Class of 2007, cross country and track star Tim Hird (2009) and the 2004 boys state championship cross country team. 

Player Cutouts: Create Yours

Custom Player Cut Outs and Signs for the room, the yard, the stadium or any other special occasion. Easy to order, impossible to forget!