A look back: Cary-Grove, Huntley made 2001 a special year for McHenry County basketball

Cary-Grove’s 2001 boys basketball team was loaded with height, experience and talent.

Every Trojans’ starter was at least 6-foot-2. Guards Dan Evans and Chris Frosaker and forward Kevin Cooper, played integral roles in three Fox Valley Conference championship teams.

Huntley, still in the Big Northern Conference at that time, also came into that season with an athletic, stacked team, led by 6-7 Jason Kalsow and 6-4 Pat Kalamatas.

Both Kalsow and Kalamatas became 1,000-point career scorers. Freshman Brad Kalsow eventually did as well and is still the school’s career scoring leader with 1,783.

It was a rare season for McHenry County area boys hoops, as both teams finished their seasons in supersectionals, and also set school records for victories. Only three other times in area history have two boys teams advanced to supersectionals, or what was formerly recognized as the Sweet 16.

Both teams came up one game short of making it to Peoria for the Elite Eight. Huntley (27-3) fell to Bureau Valley, 60-43, in the Class A Northern Illinois University Supersectional on Tuesday, March 6.

One week later, C-G (26-5) lost to Moline, 45-42, in overtime at the Class AA Moline Supersectional.

It took 19 years before a C-G team challenged the Trojans’ school record as last year’s team went 31-3 and would have played in the Class 4A McHenry Sectional championship against St. Charles North had the COVID-19 pandemic not caused the IHSA to stop the season.

Huntley (27-6) equaled the school record last year before losing to C-G, 49-46, in a classic double-overtime sectional semifinal.

“That was a great year for McHenry County sports and those two high schools,” former Huntley coach Jay Teagle said. “In our second practice, all of a sudden I saw a bunch of guys competing, being aggressive, getting nasty with each other. I thought, ‘Oh, this is a little bit different.’ It’s kind of what you want to see as a coach. I knew from that practice that we had the ability to be pretty stinking good.”

Former C-G coach Dave Otto sometimes had a front line with Cooper (6-6), Jason Murren (6-7) and Andy Hill (6-8), along with a backcourt of Evans and Frosaker, both 6-3. Brent Scott (6-2) usually started at forward.

The Trojans had a chance for the winning shot in the final seconds, but a pass was tipped away by a Moline player. It was C-G’s first loss in the 2001 part of the calendar year.

“I sat with Murren at a regional game at Cary last year and he said, ‘Coach, we shouldn’t have done this. We should have done that,’ " Otto said. “I was like, ‘I know. Would you shut up?’ You don’t know how many times I’ve gone over all that stuff. But we had fun with it.”

HOLIDAY TROUBLE

C-G took a loss close to Crystal Lake South heading into the Jacobs Holiday Tournament, now known as the Hinkle Holiday Classic. Otto recalls the Gators shot better than 70% from the field.

The Trojans then lost in a tough first-round matchup at Jacobs and did not play particularly well there in their other four games.

“(Assistant coach) Mark (Olson) and I spent the rest of Christmas yelling,” Otto said. “I remember coming off of Christmas not feeling very good about where we were and what we were doing. The seniors came to the conclusion, ‘All right, that’s done. Let’s focus on conference and not lose another game. We’ll win regional and sectional and try to make it downstate.”

They almost pulled it off. Evans, now the head men’s basketball coach at NCAA Division II North Georgia, felt C-G had too much talent and too many competitive players to continue to falter.

“We needed to get back in a routine and not let ourselves be wrapped up in what had happened,” Evans said. “We had a lot of people who wanted to play well and we had played together for a long time. It was the culmination of a lot of people the same age trying to experience something and be something that, quite honestly, at that point, no team in the Fox Valley Conference had achieved at that level.”

Dundee-Crown eventually won the Class 4A NIU Supersectional over Neuqua Valley in 2009 to become the first FVC team to advance to the state tournament. Johnsburg made it to the Class AA State Tournament in 2003, but did not join the FVC until 2006-07.

C-G rolled through the second half of the season, winning its first regional in school history, and into the Rockford Sectional. The Trojans won a narrow semifinal against Guilford, led by 5-9 dynamo Aaron Robinson, who went on to play at Minnesota.

Then, C-G held off Boylan for the sectional championship, eliciting the line from the always-quoteworthy Cooper, “We wanted this to not be like the movie. We wanted nobody to remember the Titans.”

HEY-HEY HUNTLEY

Huntley suffered one of its losses to Mundelein at the Jacobs Holiday Tournament. The mascot back then was Redskins, which was changed to Red Raiders before the 2002-03 school year. Huntley also had less than 800 students at that time, more than two-thirds smaller than its current enrollment of 3,020.

Teagle, who is 6-10, played at Marion, Indiana, where he played on the 1985 state championship teams with Jay Edwards and Lyndon Jones. Those two led Marion to two more state titles, shared the 1987 Indiana Mr. Basketball title and went on to play for Indiana coach Bob Knight.

Teagle had taken Huntley from two losing seasons to 15-12 and 16-9 before 2001. With Kalsow and Kalamatas leading the team, and talented juniors Brett Borchart and David Marshall playing key roles, Huntley was set for a deep tournament run.

“We had really good team chemistry,” Jason Kalsow said. “It was before AAU (was big) so our summers revolved around all of us playing together. Everything we did, it seemed like we were together. I remember the community support. Huntley hadn’t had a really, really good season since 1988 (a regional title under former coach Ed Ream). With what coach (Larry) Kahl and the girls did, it was a volleyball powerhouse. Football had struggled for a while. It was fun to put another sports team on the map at Huntley.”

Kalamatas was a force inside, Kalsow played forward, but the offense often ran through him. Borchart was the point guard and Marshall, who was 6-4, provided another tough inside player. Darren Kafka, Ben Hogan and Andrew Mohney also were in the rotation.

“David Marshall never got enough credit,” Teagle said. “He was the unsung hero. He was the glue a lot of people never knew was there. He was an incredible athlete. There weren’t many teams out there more athletic than us. Five vs. five, not many teams matched up to us.”

Teagle has one memory of Huntley’s three losses that season – poor shooting.

“All three games we did not win, we shot less than 30%,” Teagle said. “We had great shots, we just couldn’t throw in in the ocean in any of those games. I wish things could have turned out differently for us against Bureau Valley. We were only down five at the end of the third quarter. If we’d have shot better, we’d have put ourselves in a different position. But it was a successful year.”

KALSOW VS. EVANS

C-G and Huntley missed each other at the 2000 Jacobs Holiday Tournament, which would have been the only time they could have played. But later, their two top players met twice in the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

Kalsow’s Wisconsin-Stevens Point team beat Evans’ Lawrence University team both in 2004 and 2005. The Pointers went on to win the NCAA Tournament both times, Kalsow was the D-III Player of the Year and Final Four MVP in 2005.

Kalsow worked as an assistant coach at Wisconsin-Green Bay under coach Tod Kowalczyk, then went with Kowalczyk to Toledo.

Evans worked as an assistant coach at D-II Hillsdale (Mich.) College for six seasons, which is about 45 minutes from Toledo.

“We didn’t know each other that well, but we’ve become good friends over the years through coaching,” Evans said. “It’s funny thinking about (2001) from that perspective. When we were juniors (at Lawrence), they beat us in overtime and won the title. The next year, myself and some other guys had the flu. They were better than us, but we would have played better, and the won the national title again.”

Kalsow said Evans often came to summer camps at Toledo for recruiting purposes.

“We stay in touch,” said Kalsow, who resigned from the Toledo staff and lives in Hermosa Beach, California. “It’s kind of funny how that worked.”

Kalsow’s wife, Allie Clifton, is a former Toledo women’s basketball player who works for Spectrum SportsNet as the pregame host on Los Angeles Lakers’ broadcast.

Kalsow volunteers as an assistant basketball coach at Windward School in Los Angeles. Evans coached at D-II Ohio Dominican for six seasons and is in his second year at North Georgia.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN

While Huntley was frustrated at missing a chance for the 2001 Class A State Tournament because of an off shooting night, C-G really stung at its missed opportunity.

Moline lost to Lyons by four in their Class AA quarterfinal. Schaumburg beat Lyons by one point in the semifinals, then the Saxons defeated Eddy Curry-led Thornwood, 66-54, for the state title.

With a bounce here and a break there, C-G might have been playing on the season’s final day.

“That was an opportunity,” Otto said. “We were looking at from Moline on, everybody had athletic height that matched us pretty good. We wouldn’t have had those advantages if we got by Moline. I take nothing away from us and what we did. Who knows what could have happened?”

Evans and several teammates went to Peoria for the tournament and could not help but wonder “What if?”

“I felt like Moline, Lyons and Schaumburg would have been games we felt comfortable in,” Evans said. “Games we would have had an expectation to play well. Thornwood, I’m not sure we had seen enough teams with that kind of athleticism that we would have been all that comfortable the way Schaumburg was.

“We were on the verge of being able to do this and we belonged in that conversation, because of our collective. We played well together and understood who we were.”

RARE AIR

There have been four times in area boys basketball history where two teams reached supersectionals in the same season.

Year Teams (Classes)

1937 Dundee, Woodstock (one class)

1940 Dundee, Hebron (one class)

2001 Huntley (A), Cary-Grove (AA)

2017 Marengo (3A), Jacobs (4A)

Joe Stevenson

I have worked at the Northwest Herald since January of 1989, covering everything from high school to professional sports. I mainly cover high school sports now.