Finally, Seton Catholic is healthy.
The Cardinals have been at full strength down the stretch of the boys basketball season, and they’ve made the most of it.
Seton is on a seven-game winning streak heading into Saturday’s Class A Frankfort regional, and the Cardinals claimed the program’s first sectional championship last week at Blue River.
“I really like this group of guys. They focus on the team,” said Seton coach Josh Jurgens. “They make it a team game.
“We’re healthy now … and we’ve been healthy for the last seven games. When our seven play, they have not been beat this year, when they play together. We’re doing that now. We really believe in each other, and we believe in the one goal.”
The next goal for Seton (15-7) is stopping 10th-ranked Liberty Christian (18-6) in a regional semifinal. The squads meet at 10 a.m., with the winner advancing to play either No. 7 Lafayette Central Catholic (15-8) or No. 13 Rossville (16-8) for the Frankfort regional championship at 8 p.m.
Seton made it to its first regional by halting two-time defending sectional champion Union 61-41.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was awesome, just to know what we accomplished there was what we’ve been working for, for so long,” senior Rhett Butler said of winning the sectional championship. “Just to see it come into fruition is crazy.”
Seton did it with a balanced lineup that features four scorers in double figures.
Sophomore Desmond Bane leads the pack with 17.6 points per game, while Butler scores 14, Cliff Dickman 11.6 and Adam Dolesh 10.1.
“We trust all of our guys to score the basketball,” said Adam Dolesh, who, along with brother Tyler, has won two sectional baseball titles at Seton. “Anybody who we have on the floor in our top seven can score the basketball at any point.”
That was the case in last Saturday’s title win over the Rockets. Bane and Dickman scored 15 points each, with Butler adding 12.
Tyler Dolesh, Adam Dolesh, Billie Webster, Brady Gray and Cody Bishop also added points, carrying the Cardinals to win No. 15, tying the school record for single-season victories.
Seton also has won 11 of its past 12, including capturing the Miami Valley (Ohio) Tournament in January.
“This year we really came together as a team,” said Bane, who also averages a team-high 8.6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2.4 steals per game. “It’s great just to know that one of your teammates has your back if you don’t have your game on that night.”
Seton has been eligible for IHSAA postseason play since the 2006-07 season. This is the first time for back-to-back winning seasons for the Cardinals, who finished 15-8 and were a sectional runner-up a year ago.
“(Union) Modoc, they beat us by 11 earlier in the season. They’ve been our rival the past two or three years,” Gray said. “To come out and play defense like we did, it was spectacular.
“It was really important. … To show we can compete with schools like Modoc is really big.”
Seton claimed its first sectional victory in 2009, defeating Union City 44-42.
The Cardinals were 8-14 that year, 7-15 the next. In 2010-11, they won eight games, then nine in 2011-12.
Last year marked the first winning season for the program, and the first time playing for a sectional championship.
Jurgens is in his third year leading the program. One of the things Jurgens said during his interview process was, “I know I can have success with this group.”
“I knew what was coming, and I knew what we had,” Jurgens said. “I knew that they just needed to be shown that they can win and make them believe in themselves.
“I think they have, and we’ve taken steps closer and closer every year. We’re just going to keep getting better.”
Added Tyler Dolesh: “We’re a really balanced team, and I think the sky is the limit for us.”