Like any other high school senior basketball player in the state, Dom Adduci hopes his prep career doesn't end this week.
Adduci wants a few more chances to put on his St. Charles East uniform.
Since transferring from Wheaton Academy after his freshman year, Adduci has been a backcourt fixture for the Saints.
"It was an adjustment for me basketball-wise," admitted Adduci, who was called up to the varsity team midway through his first year at Wheaton Academy.
"School-wise, it was pretty easy because I had attended Wredling (Middle School) so I knew a lot of people and I had played basketball with many of them."
Adduci fondly remembers his basketball debut week at St. Charles East playing against East Aurora, St. Joseph and Schaumburg.
"I had been going to the St. Charles East Thanksgiving Tournament since I was little so it was a thrill for me," said Adduci.
"We played St. Charles North in the consolation game and it was really exciting."
Saints coach Patrick Woods shares some similarities with Adduci.
"Dom's first year at St. Charles East was also my first year," said Woods, who has recorded 47 victories during his first 3 seasons with the Saints. "Dom kind of came in with me."
It didn't take long for Adduci to make an impression on his then-new coach.
"I remember his sophomore year and we were playing Glenbard West here (at home)," said Woods. "We were down by 20 (points) and he had 25 points in the second half.
"I thought that was kind of like his coming-out party."
Since then, Adduci has put up some big numbers and gathered his share of memorable moments for the Saints.
As a junior, Adduci connected on a desperation buzzer-beating half-court heave during the Saints' 64-61 win over Glenbard East at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament.
"He has had some great games," Woods said of Adduci.
Perhaps his greatest game came earlier this season during the Saints' 83-50 triumph over Elgin.
Adduci single-handedly outscored the Maroons (27 points) in the first half as he poured in 32 points, including eight 3-pointers.
During the final 3:35 of the second quarter, the 6-foot guard drained four 3-pointers and tallied 16 points.
"He has always been a good shooter but I've never seen him shoot like that," said junior teammate Cole Gentry. "Once he gets in a zone, he's hard to stop."
Despite not playing the entire fourth quarter, Adduci finished with a career-high 40 points.
"That was my most memorable game as a whole," said Adduci. "I looked up at the scoreboard at halftime and thought, 'wow -- that was a pretty good half.'"
"Dom is the kind of player where once he gets going, the basket just gets bigger and bigger for him," said Woods.
One victory Adduci will always savor came last season against cross-town rival St. Charles North.
"Quinten Payne missed two free throws and we beat them in overtime (56-55)," said Adduci, who made the game-winning 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining in the extra session. "The place was packed and it was loud as I've ever heard it in our gym."
After starting as a sophomore for the Saints, who advanced to the regional finals before losing a tight game to an Elgin team that featured current North Dakota State sophomore Cory Brown, Adduci began his junior campaign on a positive note.
He earned all-tournament status while the Saints captured their first Thanksgiving tourney title since 1994.
Playing alongside senior standout Kendall Stephens (now at Purdue), Adduci and the Saints were rolling along before Stephens re-aggravated his shoulder injury at the Proviso West tourney.
A few weeks later, Stephens underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum -- and the Saints' downstate dreams were dashed.
"We were beating (eventual 4A state runner-up) Stevenson before Kendall went out with the injury," recalled Adduci. "We were a totally different team with Kendall, especially our 1-3-1 (defense)."
Adduci enjoyed the time he spent playing with Stephens.
"It was an eye-opening experience just watching his work ethic and dedication to the game," said Adduci. "His basketball IQ is off the charts. He definitely made life easier for me."
Adduci, who leads the Saints this season with a 20-point average, is no slouch himself when it comes to work ethic.
"He's a great student and he's a gym rat," said Woods. "He never seems to run out of energy. I'll think he'll have a hard practice but he's in such good condition that he's always ready to go.
"The time and effort he has put into his game -- he has grown a ton," added the coach. "He's a 1,000-point scorer here."
After watching Adduci overcome a painful shoulder injury of his own last season and play through some nagging groin and ankle injuries this season, nobody can question his toughness.
"Basketball is a sport that you never play 100 percent healthy," downplayed Adduci. "I've been lucky this year and thankful that my injuries haven't been too serious."
Over the past year, Adduci worked on improving his strength, knowing that his collegiate days were rapidly approaching.
His offensive game has always been a strong suit.
"The thing he has that not every player has is the mentality that every shot he takes is going in," said Woods. "He wants the ball in crucial situations and he has no fear.
"There are a lot of kids who are good but when you're going up against some of the backcourts we face -- like I think of (Jordan) Ash and (Glynn) Watson from (St.) Joes. Those are two top-100 kids there and he had 26 (points) against them. That shows just the kind of kid he is."
Adduci sees himself as a multi-faceted offensive threat.
"I think I'm a player who can make plays shooting or by getting to the basket and setting up teammates if I'm double-teamed," he said.
Adduci, who has received encouraging postgame words from many opponents including legendary St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore, is still undecided on his future.
"I plan to visit a couple schools after the season ends," said Adduci, who has drawn interest from UC-Davis and Drake among other schools.
For now, Adduci will focus on extending his senior season.
"I've had the time of my life playing high school basketball," he said.
You can reach Craig Brueske at email@example.com