2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 3/9/2011 11:33 PM

Sutter blazes a trail for South Elgin

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  • South Elgin's Sam Sutter walks to the bench during the final seconds of Wednesday's sectional semifinal loss to Rockford Auburn.

      South Elgin's Sam Sutter walks to the bench during the final seconds of Wednesday's sectional semifinal loss to Rockford Auburn.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer


Fifty years from now when South Elgin senior guard Sam Sutter is sitting in his rocking chair remembering his high school glory days, a smile will come to his face when he thinks about the trail he helped blaze in March of 2011.

"That was the year," Old Sammy will begin to tell his grandkids, "that South Elgin won that crazy regional title and played in a sectional for the very first time."

Sutter's twin grandsons, basketball players in the South Elgin Class of 2061, will roll their eyes, of course, as grandpa Sammy begins to wax poetically about the 2010-11 season ... again.

But before the Sutter grandkids can escape to basketball practice at Chaz Taft Field House, where 13 state banners from the retired coach's successful 41-year career hang from the rafters, Sutter will remind them of the story of 2011 one more time. Like it or not.

He'll tell his grandkids how the Storm was undersized all season long at virtually every position. "Heck, I was only 6-foot-1 and our point guard, Jake Maestranzi, was 5-foot-5 for cryin' out loud," Grandpa Sutter will say between sips of Metamucil.

Sutter will go on to explain how his team used tough, physical defense and the weaving dribble-drive offense to win 7-of-10 games down the stretch, how the Storm improved to 16-12 after winning the first regional title in the school's fifth season of varsity competition and how they nearly upset NBA Hall of Famer Ryan Boatright when he was a senior at East Aurora.

And Sutter will tell his grandkids the truth: Yes, grandpa was one heck of a high school basketball player. He entered the sectional averaging 18.2 points per game after upping his average from 12 points per game the previous year.

"But that sectional game," he'll say. "Boy, I just couldn't find the touch that night." And Sutter will punch his hand into his fist, just as he did toward the end of the 60-46 loss to Rockford Auburn that ended his high school career in a Class 4A sectional semifinal at Jacobs.

Sutter will cop to the fact that even though he scored 19 points in his last high school game, he did so on 7-of-28 shooting after going 0 of 9 from the field in the first half.

He'll tell them how a 34-percent shooter from 3-point range missed 14-of-16 attempts from beyond the arc that night. He'll tell his grandkids that's how it goes sometimes.

And he'll recount that he didn't avoid the press afterward because he was the team's leader and spokesman, win or lose.

Sutter will tell his grandkids what he told the media that night, that his shots "were there, but they didn't drop. The guy upstairs had a different plan for us. I just have to take it and move on."

He'll tell them how Coach Taft, still in the early years of his career back in 2011, was congratulated after the game for a fine season by such mentors as IBCA Hall of Famer Jim Harrington and St. Patrick coach Mike Bailey, who won the 400th game of his career in January.

He'll recount Taft's words to the press after the game: "I'm proud of my kids. We won a regional. It's a process. Each year we've gotten better in the state tournament."

Sutter will then kick back in his rocking chair and smile, remembering how the program went on to win numerous sectional titles and much, much more over the 50 ensuing seasons.

And Old Sammy Sutter will smile a satisfied smile, knowing he helped blaze the trail.