February 23, 2009

Cougill hoping for state title run

The goal for Brennan Cougill and his teammates at Sioux City Heelan is simple; they want to repeat the success that their football team had in the fall and win a state title. That road to state starts tonight with a matchup against Storm Lake and hopefully results in six more wins to cap off a record setting high school for the future Hawkeye.

"I'm pretty excited. It is coming up on the final basketball games of my high school career and you want to finish out on top," Cougill said. "We want to build on the success that a lot of the teams at our school have had this year, like our football team winning state. Once we saw that feeling that those guys had, we wanted to experience that as well at the end of March."

Heelan heads into the state tournament with plenty of confidence. They hold a 19-2 record on the year, including eleven straight wins. Once again, Heelan will be a marked team, coming into the tournament ranked #1 in the state and also having a January win over 4A power Linn Mar, which gives them plenty of confidence.

"It helps us because they are consistently one of the top teams in 4A, they compete for a state title every year, and they have some really good players and talent on that team. It wasn't a pretty game by any means, but we were able to get that win."

One of the teams in the 3A bracket that could be in Heelan's path to a state title is Dubuque Wahlert, who won the title last year and defeated them in the quarterfinals in 2008. If they do meet, it would be a potential matchup of future Hawkeye teams.

"We are just trying to take things one game at a time at this point, but it would be pretty fun to meet up with Eric May, who I will be playing with in college. Hopefully it would be in the title game," Cougill said.

While team goals and achievements are always first for the 6-foot-9 center/power forward, it was also a record setting year for Cougill on a personal level as he became the all-time leading scorer in Sioux City history this season.

"That really meant a lot because growing up here you hear a lot about Kirk Hinrich being from here and now he is playing for the Bulls. Then you have a guy like Nate Funk, who had a great career at Creighton and now he is playing overseas and passing Dylan Grimsley, who is having a very successful career at USD. It meant a lot to be mentioned with those guys," he said.

The record didn't come without a lot of hard work over the years by Cougill, who feels that he has gotten better each year in high school.

"I have gotten quick and more explosive as I have gone through high school. This year I feel a lot quicker and my shot has really improved and I am more confident in my game."

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