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Goetz and Ludwig -- their names sound a little more like a law firm than the starting backcourt for a high school basketball team.
Alec Goetz and Jake Ludwig have represented St. Charles North with aplomb during the first 2 months of the season.
Together, the 6-1 guards have made the most of their opportunities, damaged the hopes of others, and amended the thoughts of several adversaries along the way.
"Going into the season, not many people thought too much about our backcourt," said North Stars head coach Tom Poulin. "But they've earned that respect."
Ludwig, used primarily as the first player off the bench last season, made a great opening statement to his junior campaign with a game-high 28 points during the North Stars' championship loss to St. Joseph at the annual Ron Johnson/St. Charles East Thanksgiving Tournament.
Meanwhile, Goetz began his senior season by joining Ludwig on the 10-player all-tournament team at St. Charles East.
Last month, Goetz opened a few more eyes with his career-high 36-point effort in a memorable 82-74 triple-overtime loss to 4-time defending Class 4A state champion Simeon at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament.
"I'm not going to lie -- that's one of the best memories of my high school career," said Goetz, who poured in eight 3-pointers and was a perfect 8-for-8 at the free-throw line against the perennial powerhouse Wolverines.
"That game was awesome," he added. "At the start of the third overtime, we felt like we already did something special. It put us on the map."
Ludwig added 21 points against Simeon, including 9 of 11 free throws.
"I'll never forget that game," admitted Ludwig.
The actions of Goetz and Ludwig earned the acknowledgment of Simeon coach Robert Smith.
"Those were the best two guards we've played (against) this year," said Smith.
That is high praise for 2 guys playing alongside each other in their first season as starters.
"They complement each other very well in the backcourt," said Poulin. "They both can play the one or two and they're effective both ways. Plus, they're both very good free-throw shooters and they're both unselfish."
That team-first approach has paid dividends for the North Stars (11-6, 5-2), who are chasing league-leading Larkin (14-3, 5-0) in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division.
"Jake is one of my best friends," said Goetz. "We spent the entire summer working together almost every day. We worked on ballhandling and other things.
"We've always had a pretty good connection but I think the off-season work has helped our cohesiveness," added Goetz. "We have faith in each other."
Ludwig credits Goetz for keeping that faith.
"When I was upset about something last year, he kept my head up," said Ludwig. "Last summer, we worked on ballhandling, shooting and attacking off the dribble pass."
They've finished with double-figure scoring together in 11 of the North Stars' 17 games this season.
"The good thing about them is that they rarely look out of control," said Poulin. "They don't break away from our system of team basketball.
"They're very similar in terms of production -- points, rebounds and assists -- but they have different styles," added the coach. "Alec plays a lot quicker while Jake is a little more paced. Alec can fly and get into the gaps while Jake changes speed and direction."
Two years ago, Goetz was primarily an outside shooter.
"When I first saw him my first year here, he was a sophomore and to me the only thing he could do at that point was shoot so all we did was guard him wherever he was at," said St. Charles East coach Patrick Woods. "But now when you get on him, he goes around you. He has definitely improved and developed his game."
Woods invited Goetz to play on his Illinois Old School AAU team last spring and summer.
"He's so fast with the ball that he gets you off-balance and then gets to the basket," said Woods. "We saw a lot of that from him last summer. He did a great job of running our point and playing the two on a team that included Chip Flanigan (Glenbard North), Scott Lindsey (Fenwick) and AJ Washington (St. Charles East). I think he enjoyed himself -- he's a great kid."
"It was fun playing for him," Goetz said of Woods. "It was kind of weird but fun. There was a time where he called for a certain play and AJ said, 'now Alec is going to know some of our plays at St. Charles East.'"
Goetz, who grew an inch from a year ago, wants to play basketball at a Division 1 school next year.
"I've received some attention from Chicago State and SIU-Edwardsville," said Goetz. "I know that I need to gain a lot of weight and get stronger."
Shooting has always been one of Goetz's strong suits.
"He's one of the best shooters we've had in the program," said Poulin. "He has very good range. He uses his legs and practices those (long) shots. He has worked hard on attacking the basket and on his midrange game because a scorer does both."
Ludwig knows first-hand about Goetz's game.
"He's quick," said Ludwig. "Nobody likes to guard him in practice. He's slight but don't let that fool you -- he'll attack you."
The North Stars would love to make their closing arguments in the postseason, where they will serve as a regional host in March.
"I honestly didn't know we were hosting regionals until about two weeks ago," said Goetz.
No matter what happens from here on out, the verdict is already in -- Goetz and Ludwig can play.
You can reach Craig Brueske at firstname.lastname@example.org
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