'We try to jump on things like that'

Feb. 27—DANVILLE — Dustin Dees' mentality is to apply to host as many IHSA postseason events as possible.

As a result, much of the road to the IHSA Class 1A boys' basketball state finals now runs through Vermilion County.

"We tend to kind of rotate between boys' and girls' regionals because we put in every year," said Dees, the Salt Fork assistant principal and athletic director.

The Storm hosted Armstrong-Potomac, Fisher and St. Thomas More in a Class 1A regional bracket that the Sabers captured with a 52-41 win over the Storm last Friday night.

It will also play host to sectional games at Danville Area Community College's Mary Miller Gymnasium this week, starting Tuesday night with the two semifinal matchups. Top-seeded Heyworth (21-11) plays fifth-seeded St. Teresa (13-20) at 6 p.m. Tuesday followed by No. 1 seed STM (22-11) against second-seeded Lexington (24-10) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The sectional championship game is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, with a berth in the Elite Eight on the line.

"I wanted to offer an opportunity for teams to come to Vermilion County and participate in a really nice facility within our area," Dees said. "And showcase that, 'Hey, we've got some really nice facilities in Vermilion County.'"

Unsurprisingly, the environment inside Salt Fork's gymnasium — which was renovated prior to the 2022-23 school year — was positively received during the opening round of the tournament.

"It's definitely a fun environment," STM senior Peace Bumba said after the Sabers defeated the Storm. "This is something that lives on for a long time, something you're going to tell your kids about."

A larger facility, however, was required for the sectional round of the postseason, which Salt Fork acquired just before Christmas when the IHSA found itself needing a host at the last second.

Quick thinking and help from DACC athletic director Tim Bunton helped bring the games to campus, which has drawn rave reviews from teams and fans as host of the last two iterations of the Vermilion County Tournament.

"Typically here at Salt Fork, we try to jump on things like that," Dees said.

With the Storm out of the mix, each of the four participants will have a chance to get acquainted with the host of the NJCAA Division II national tournament for the first time.

"I do know that the Salt Fork faithful are super excited to have a sectional locally," Dees said. "I do think that you'll see a nice outing of people coming to support from Vermilion County to DACC."