Regardless of what poll you look at, the Gallatin County High School boys' basketball team is at the top of the list.
On the Illinois High School Sports.com Web site, the Hawks hold down the No. 1 spot this week, however, on the Associated Press Top 10 Prep Poll in Class 1A, Gallatin County is No. 3.
And yet when confronted on the matter, Hawks' head coach Robert Patton says he pays no attention to either poll. Or for that matter, any ranking.
He and his team know where they stand and for him, that's all that matters.
"We know that it's a marathon, not a sprint," Patton said Tuesday. "We come every night ready to play. The polls do not win you ball games and we have that bullseye on our back every night we step onto the court. It makes someone season to say they beat you."
To date, Gallatin County is 14-2 with the two losses coming to Harrisburg, but have substantial wins against Goreville, Meridian and Cairo.
In the span of half a season, Patton has seen major improvements in many area's of concern.
The longtime Gallatin County coach said defense has come a long way since the beginning of the season, but the most important aspect he believes comes from his guard play.
"There's no question that our guard play has gotten better," he said. "That being said, it's not where it needs to be, but it has improved and is improving."
Patton cited players like starting guard Anthony Storto and role players Josh Belford and Mitchell Ramsey to those who have been able to keep the well oiled machine known as Gallatin County cranking.
"Those three guys have worked very hard against the pressure," Patton said. "I can't really say enough about the work, hours and effort Storto has put in though. He deserves a lot of credit and has just worked really hard."
Patton confirmed that the Hawks will play Nashville on February 2 at 7 p.m. in the Nashville Shootout. Originally, Gallatin County was scheduled to play Madison at 8:30 that night, however Patton maintains that whoever his team plays, he wants it to be an opportunity where they get better.
"We just want the competition right now. We're just doing whatever we can do to get ready for the end of February.
The close of February features the IHSA Class 1A Regional, a postseason tournament that Gallatin County will host and includes Grayville, NCOE, Hardin County, Carrier Mills, Galatia and Pope County.
Harrisburg Still No. 1
Despite the season's first loss to Dyer County, Tenn., this past Friday, Harrisburg remained the state's No. 1 team in Class 2A receiving 10 first place votes.
Pleasant Plains (20-0) received three first place votes, while Seton Academy, who started the season No. 1, but have stumbled to a 11-8 overall record still managed two first place votes to come in at No. 7 in the poll.
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Woodlawn received four first place votes in the Class 1A poll to maintain the No. 2 spot. Illini Central (12-4) is the No. 1 team for the second straight week.
After Gallatin County at No. 3, Meridian (16-4) comes in at No. 7 and Okawville (13-4) is No. 10.
Goreville received eight votes in the other receiving votes category.
Nashville got two votes in the Class 2A poll, while Centralia also got two votes to enter in the other receiving votes category.
Michael Dann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Michael Dann on Twitter @spydieshooter.