PONTIAC — Dave Witzig has parlayed a patient offense and stingy defense into 400 victories in 20 seasons as Normal Community High School’s basketball coach.
His 400-200 career record has him on pace to become an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer. Still, Witzig will be a bit out of his element Saturday as head coach of the Class 3A-4A South in the IBCA All-Star Games at Pontiac High School.
“I’m not a great All-Star coach,” he said.
Patient offense and stingy defense do not typically play well in All-Star settings. Nonetheless, Witzig hopes to lead the South to victory with the help of assistant coaches Brian Cupples, who stepped down as Normal West head coach at the end of the season, and Nate Foster, Witzig’s assistant at NCHS.
“Coach Cupples will be in charge of the offense, Coach Foster will be in charge of the baseline out of bounds plays and I’m in charge of whatever defense you play in an All-Star game,” Witzig quipped.
“We just have to make sure we keep the amount of playing time the same for each guy and play a good game.”
The star of stars on Witzig’s roster is Ohio State-bound forward E.J. Liddell, the two-time Illinois Mr. Basketball who led Belleville West to back-to-back 4A state championships.
“It will be fun to be around him and to coach him,” Witzig said. “He had an unbelievable high school career with everything that he did.”
The South also has Caleb Donaldson of Bloomington and Shea Cupples of Normal West, players from NCHS’ two fiercest rivals.
“It will be fun to have them on my side,” said Witzig, who joked he may install a lob play from Shea Cupples to the 6-5 Donaldson. “That would be a good Intercity play to put in.”
Witzig’s 15-man roster has a number of other players his Ironmen have faced, including Moline’s Deonte Billups and Drew Wiemers and Danville’s Sean Houpt. Also on the squad is 6-10 Lincoln grad Jermaine Hamlin.
“It will be fun to get to know these guys after competing against them,” Witzig said. “It’s just a good weekend with all-state players and we’ll see if we can win. I’m pretty sure the South has won four in a row, so there’s a little pressure to keep the win streak going.”
The boys 3A-4A game tips off at 6 p.m. Prior to that, the girls 1A-2A game is at noon, the girls 3A-4A contest at 2 p.m. and the boys 1A-2A game at 4 p.m.
The girls 1A-2A game will include Eureka’s Courtney Heffren, Mount Pulaski’s Skylar Hayes, Flanagan-Cornell’s Jadyn Mitchell and Dwight’s Melissa Stewart. The girls 3A-4A contest features NCHS’ Abby Feit.
The boys 1A-2A game has four area players in Central Catholic’s Luke Yoder, Eureka’s Keegan Zimmerman, Deer Creek-Mackinaw’s Levi Scheuermann and LeRoy’s Nick Perry.
Admission is $5 for all four games.