2017-'18 Season Coverage
posted: 2/25/2013 9:11 PM

Decker brings love for the game overseas

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Although she wore a brace for a growth behind her knee as a senior, former Maine West forward Lara Decker still logged quite a few miles during her high school basketball career.

Now she is many miles away and still involved with her passion for the sport.

Last August, Decker moved to Budapest, Hungary, to work at the International Christian School of Budapest.

Her primary job is working as an aide to an elementary student with special needs

But her most recent assignment has been working with the high school girls basketball team.

"I've been playing basketball my whole life so I was quite excited when they mentioned they needed a coach," said Decker, who is the junior varsity coach and varsity assistant. "It's been fun using the lessons and skills I learned from my days at Maine West playing under coach Derril Kipp."

Kipp, a Hall of Fame coach, is not surprised by Decker's career choice.

"She is great kid," he said. "She was very personable and she was always a student of the game."

Decker said the game has quite few differences in Budapest.

"We can only practice three times a week and have open gym on Saturdays," she said. "Tournaments are called festivals because they are more friendly and not as competitive.

"Our conference is called the DVAC (Danube Valley Athletic Conference) and was actually only established a few years ago. We have teams from Vienna, Salzburg, Bratislava, and Hungary in this league."

Most of the games are played on weekends because the teams must travel so far and they only play about 15 games during the season.

"Coaching is a lot harder than I originally thought," said Decker, who graduated from Illinois State, where she played intramural basketball. "I'm grateful for the hard work, time, and effort that my high school coaches put into my team at Maine West."

Last weekend, Decker's school hosted a huge tournament with schools from Moscow, Russia, Kiev, Ukraine, Bucharest, Romania and others in Hungary. For three days, it was nonstop basketball.

"They even canceled school on Friday so games could be played all day," Decker said. "An added bonus is they ship in lots of American candy."

And it's been sweet experience for Decker in Budapest, where she has a two-year commitment.

"Living and working in Hungary has been so different from what I imagined," she said. "But the love of sports is the same wherever you are from. I'm blessed to have this experience and treasure the memories and lessons I've already made."

Sports Notes trivia

The above-mentioned Laura Decker played for Maine West coach Derril Kipp, whose 1988 team went undefeated (35-0) and won the AA state tournament.

Name the two coaches from the Mid-Suburban League who have won girls basketball state championships.

Answer at end of column.

Kuzmanic honored

Carthage junior guard Stephanie Kuzmanic (Wheeling) was named the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin's "Women's Basketball Most Outstanding Player of the Year."

Kuzmanic was fifth in conference scoring (13.8 points per game through the end of the regular season) and first in assists (5.72 per game and ranked eighth nationally).

She was also first in 3-point field-goal percentage (. 455), third in free-throw percentage (. 821), fifth in minutes played (31.16 per game), tied for sixth place in steals (2.00 per game), seventh in blocked shots (0.68 per game), ninth in rebounding (5.4 per game) and 12th in field-goal percentage (. 473).

Kuzmanic is only the second Carthage player to earn the award, joining Christa Goetz in 1995.

Men's basketball

Junior forward Chris Klimek (Fremd) scored a game-high 17 points while junior guard Alan Aboona (St. Viator) added 10 points with a pair of 3-pointers as No. 22 Washington University (St. Louis) posted a 72-54 win over visiting Chicago.

The Bears gained a share of the University Athletic Association championship and earned the automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Division III Tournament.

• North Central junior forward Charlie Rosenberg (Fremd) is averaging 14 minutes per game for the Cardinals who won their second straight College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin tournament championship with a 70-63 victory over Augustana.

The Cardinals (24-3) recorded their third win over the Vikings this season and have now tied the Vikings for the most CCIW Tournament championships with three apiece.

A fastbreak layup by Rosenberg gave the Cardinals a 16-14 lead over Augustana. Rosenberg also scored on an inside bucket as part of a 6-0 run moments later which put the Cardinals ahead 24-18.

Women's track and field

Washington University (St. Louis) junior Anna Etherington (Barrington) was named the University Athletic Association Women's Indoor Field Athlete of the Week for the third time this season and fifth time in her career after another record-breaking performance at the Illinois College Alumni Classic.

She broke her own school record in the women's pole vault by nine centimeters, winning the event with a clearance of 3.96 meters.

The mark improved her previous record of 3.87 meters set last week, and ranks second in NCAA Division III this season. Etherington was also named the UAA 'Athlete of the Week' Jan. 28 and Feb. 11.

On the air

The Daily Herald's very-own Patricia Babcock McGraw, an analyst for the Big Ten Newtwork, will join longtime IHSA TV Network mainstay Dave Bernhard to broadcast the girl's Class 4A state basketball games this weekend from Illinois State's Redbird Arena.

IHSA All-state academic

Maine West's Benjamin Brissette is one of 26 students who were selected to the 2012-13 IHSA All-State Academic Team sponsored by Caterpillar. The 13 male and 13 female honorees of the IHSA's top academic honor were chosen from a group that included over 450 students throughout the state.

Michael Rappleye of Barrington was an honorable mention selection.

"This is a tremendous honor and I hope every student who was nominated takes a great deal of pride in all that they have accomplished," said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. "These students are the embodiment of what it means to take advantage of the entire high school experience."

Men's track and field

North Central College junior sprinter Dionte Hackler (Schaumburg) placed first in the 400-meter dash at the Cardinal Opener with a time of 49.80 and also placed first in the 200 meter dash at the Chicagoland meet with a time of 22.26.

He was also a member of the 4x400-meter relay that placed first at the Chicagoland meet with a time of 3:20.66.

• North Central junior middle distance runner Marlen Hamilton (Hoffman Estates) placed first in the 600-meter run at the Tadd Metzger Invitational with a time of 1:23.33 and also placed first in the 800-meter run at the Chicagoland meet with a time of 1:55.76.

He was also a member of the 4x400-meter relay that placed first at the Chicagoland meet with a time of 3:20.66.

• When North Central claimed the CCIW Indoor Championship on Saturday, Hackler and Hamilton were on the distance medley relay team that narrowly edged out runner-up Wheaton College with a time of 9:58.89, which has been bettered by only one team in Division III competition this season.

Palatine Park District

The Palatine Park District Tiger Sharks swim team is a year-round competitive swim team offering high quality professional coaching and technique instruction for all ages and abilities.

The goal of the team is to provide every member an opportunity to improve swimming skills and achieve success at his or her level of ability.

Tryouts for the team will be held on Monday, Feb. 25 and Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Harper College Pool.

For more information, contact coach Dustin Thompson, head developmental coach, at ddt1326@yahoo.com or 847-991-1960.

Trivia answer

Marcia Krysh's Elk Grove Grenadiers (31-1) were the Class AA girls basketball state champs in 1981 while Tom Dineen's Buffalo Grove Bison (34-4) won the 2000 AA title.

• Please email Sports Notes items to jleusch@dailyherald.com or FAX to (847) 427-1173.

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