Crash the Boards
The Warriors boys basketball team had a slow start to the season, but has since bounced back to make this a 12-6 season to remember, with a 0.667 winning percentage. Looking to add to the win column, tonight they face Maine East in the Demons’ gym at 7 p.m.
Standing 6-1 in conference, the boys are tied for first in the CSL with Highland Park. The team is well positioned to seize their first conference title in over 20 years.
With each win, the team is becoming more and more confident of its ability to secure a conference title. The victory over Highland Park on Jan. 18 kept the dream alive because a loss would have eliminated the Warriors from any chance at the championship.
The Warriors pulled away with a big victory over Deerfield in another conference game on Jan. 26 at Deerfield. Coach Tom Prokopij said the team is preparing for a state tournament run by “trying to save our legs so we’re not worn out come March. We’re shortening up our practices right now and doing a lot of maintenance on the ‘little things’ that have earned us the success we’ve been enjoying thus far.”
Starting on Monday, the Warriors will have a six-game home series that will finish their regular season, including games against conference foes Vernon Hills and Glenbrook North (GBN). Every conference game from now on plays a major role in the road to a conference championship. The team is building from previous victories including over St. Viator, GBN, and Notre Dame. Senior Shivam Patel said one of these wins stands out among them all: when the Warriors “beat the 15th ranked team in state,” St. Viator.
But the season has not been all work for the Warriors. The team knows how to celebrate after a big win. Senior Matthew Kentgen said one of his favorite memories is the team tradition of post-game dance sessions. “We have this huge speaker that we bring with us to home and away games and after every win we blast it in the locker room. It’s a really fun time to enjoy the win.”
Junior Justin Scholler agreed, noting “the whole team waits for coach to walk in and then we all start dancing and yelling and going crazy.”
With senior night approaching on Feb. 14 against GBN, the seniors are feeling bittersweet about the last time playing on their home court with their teammates of many years.
Senior Jack Collins knows what he is looking forward to on senior night: “to be able to play with the guys that I have been playing this sport with since 7th grade one last time on our home floor.” Collins explains what makes this team so close is “that the core group of people have been playing together forever.”
Because of this long history among teammates, Prokopij said, “The team chemistry and dedication to the program this year has been incredible.”
He said he has “truly enjoyed coaching them and watching them grow into young men” and that he “really excited for them and what the future holds for them.”