The Muenster Hornets’ rivalry with the Lindsay Knights has been stoked the past two seasons as the Hornets have ended Lindsay’s playoff run in back-to-back years.
Most recently, Muenster downed Lindsay 55-25 in the regional quarterfinal round.
Now, the two teams will be facing each other at least twice a season after the recent University Interscholastic League realignment.
“It’s such a good, natural rivalry,” Cook said. “It always makes for intense, good games and a good atmosphere. That natural rivalry makes it a game you don’t have to get the kids up for. They’re already motivated and tuned in. It’s different for us because honestly we’ve had the most talent year in and year out for the past seven years of the districts we’ve been in and Lindsay has had the most talent they’ve been in for the past four years. Now, I feel like we’re all in the same boat.”
The Hornets add three teams to last season’s district into the newly formed District 13-2A. Lindsay, Collinsville and Tioga will all be new district opponents for Muenster.
“I think the district is really wide open,” Cook said. “We’re having to replace four starters and that’s as big of rebuild as we’ve done here in a while. That makes it tough for us. The majority of the other teams are in the same situation. Lindsay lost three or four starters to graduation and Alvord lost at least four. Collinsville, I’m not too sure about. Tioga has most everybody coming back. They’re the one exception.”
Muenster moves over from District 11-2A with teams such as Alvord, Chico, Era and Poolville. Muenster went 8-0 against those teams last season on the way to a district title.
“I think comparatively we’re all going to be similar,” Cook said. “I don’t know what that means in the grand scheme of things or how good the best team in our district will be compared to the region. Time will tell on that one. Across the board program by program, talent-wise we’ll all be very similar.”
The Hornets have won the past seven district championships and Cook said the goal will be the same next season.
“Hopefully it’s something the players take pride in with what we’ve been able to do and we’ll do whatever they need to do to keep that going,” Cook said. “Somebody wants to be the team that breaks the streak and knocks us off and keeps us from doing what we’ve been doing the past seven years.”
As for how the Hornets have been able to be so dominant in district play, Cook said talent has been the biggest ingredient.
“We’ve been really fortunate to have really good players that take pride in what they do and work hard in what they do,” Cook said. “The results speak for themselves. You win your district, you match up with the fourth-place team and that’s a benefit. Then if you win that one, you avoid having to play a district winner. It definitely helps your playoff run each year.”
Cook said every district game will be important and that they won’t be able to have an off night due to the close level of talent in the district.
Muenster fell in the regional semifinal game to McLeod 53-46 and despite their season ending earlier than desired, Cook said it was still a successful season.
“It was successful without a doubt, but disappointing with the way it ended,” Cook said. “We let that last game get away from us in the second half. It’s a credit to McLeod for what they did, but some of it was things we did not do. It’s a good feeling looking back on it. It’s not anger. You’re disappointed that you lost, but it’s a not terrible season. We didn’t play well our last game and at that point in the playoffs that costs you.”
Cook said the regional outlook next season is very much like their district.
“It’s wide open with a bunch of very similar teams,” Cook said. “The big road block the last few years has been Martin’s Mill and now they’re not in our region. McLeod lost a lot of people and Big Sandy that knocked us out two years ago is losing their team. I know DeLeon is young. I would say on paper that the team to beat in the region is Lipan. They were young last year and they’re moving up from 1A. They’re just a straight basketball school and they have the tradition.”
The Hornets have been flush with center talent throughout the past seven seasons and Cook recognized that much will have to change next season. Still, the goals will not change.
“We’ll meet the first day we’re together when football is over and we’ll sit down and talk about goals,” Cook said. “The number one goal will be to win the district championship. We’ll talk about the district and parity this year more so than others. We’ll talk about having a target on our back and go from there. Can we win a playoff game and go to the regional tournament? The goals won’t change. It will just be a new set of faces looking back at me.”