QUINCY, IL. (WGEM) -- In typical annual fashion the John Wood men's basketball team took its lumps early in order to be prepared for when it really matters.
Thanks to a challenging non-conference slate the Blazers were more than ready for the 10 game swing through the Mid-West Athletic Conference.
The end result was an 8-2 finish in league play and the second outright conference championship in program history.
Brad Hoyt's group heads to this weekend's Region 24 Tournament in Danville as the number one seed.
This season's team has built faith in one another as they attempt to earn a spot in the national tournament.
"I think that allows some trust to happen in late game situations," Hoyt said.
"If nothing else I think we should have a belief going into the postseason that we can win some close games because we've done that."
According to sophomore Mason Schlotzhauer, "This year (we) kind of came from the bottom. We kind of started out rough, and then we came back, and beat three or four top-ranked teams in the nation. It's kind of a big deal and we're really proud of it."
John Wood has saved its best for last wrapping up the regular with eight wins in its final nine games, and six of those victories came by single digits.
Hoyt says they have used the last three weeks to get set for the postseason.
"We like that space. We like living in that space. We like preparing for that space a little bit. I think we've at least communicated that that to our guys the last two to three weeks," Hoyt added.
"I would like to think that we're walking into the tournament this weekend and we'll be comfortable with that mentality. But I promise you there will be six other teams that are just as comfortable, that are getting coached the same way, and will be prepared. We'll have our hands full."
The Blazers get a bye in the first round of the Region 24 Tournament.
They will play the Lincoln/Illinois Central winner on Saturday at 1 p.m.