Schuck's Clipboard

Harmann, Dukes 'humbled' by response to success

Posted: Mar. 4, 2019 12:01 am

The spotty cellphone service Chris Harmann typically receives on the 60-mile trek along Interstate 88 between Geneseo and Dixon meant many of the congratulatory text messages and calls coming his way weren't being received.

He might have ignored them anyway.

Harmann and the Dixon boys basketball players were enjoying this bus ride more than any other.

The Dukes knocked off Galesburg 56-50 on Friday to win the Class 3A Geneseo Regional championship and make a little history. Dixon, which has won regional titles in three of the last six seasons, hadn't won a regional in consecutive seasons in 52 years.

When the Dukes reached the city limits, an official police escort was waiting to lead them home.

"The guys were pumped up about that," Harmann said. "It was pretty cool."

Harmann's phone regained its service about that time, and a flood of messages overwhelmed him.

"A lot of folks reached out from a lot of different places," said Harmann, the first-year coach who is a 2003 Quincy High School graduate and spent the previous 10 seasons as an assistant coach with the Blue Devils. "Their excitement is what's cool. It was very humbling and appreciated."

So is the fact his methods and ideas have been well received.

The Dukes finished the regular season with a 21-7 record, upending Geneseo on its own floor and a familiar foe -- at least for Harmann -- in the Silver Streaks. Dixon had two starters get into foul trouble in the first half of the championship game and had to make adjustments on the fly.

"At one point, we had a lineup out there that we had never had on the floor together," Harmann said. "It was wild."

The Dukes managed to survive, trailing by only three at halftime.

"You've got to adapt," Harmann said. "We tried to keep it as simple as possible during that time."

All the lessons he learned while coaching under Sean Taylor and Andy Douglas about preparation, confidence and staying calm paid off in that moment.

"The guys responded," Harmann said. "They kept it together."

Harmann said the maturation of his team and the relationships forged between the players themselves, as well as the players and the coaching staff, have made this job worthwhile -- regardless of results.

"I've gotten to tell a lot of people up here this, these kids are fun," Harmann said. "If the kids are having fun, it makes it enjoyable. They each have their own different personalities. You never know what you're going to get at any given moment with this group, which makes it fun.

"They keep it loose. There's no doubt about that."

That should hold true for the next step in the postseason march. Dixon will face Peoria Notre Dame at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bradley University's Renaissance Coliseum, and he can bet plenty of familiar faces will be in the stands, including a few from Quincy.

"Everyone who has been involved over the years gets a little piece of this, along with everyone up here who has embraced me and what our coaches want to do," Harmann said. "It's been a fun transition."