He has all the looks of your typical high school freshman, but there is nothing else typical about the play of Mundelein point guard Conor Enright.
In a game his coaches said he had been waiting for, Enright showed he belonged right away as the Mustangs opened the 2017-18 campaign in their own tournament against Elk Grove on Monday.
Enright scored 8 of his 13 points in the first half and was a menace to the Grenadiers on defense, swiping 5 steals and getting his hands on numerous other passes. His efforts, combined with that of senior big man Jeff Bikus' game-best 21 points, lifted Mundelein to an impressive 60-40 win over Elk Grove.
"(Conor) has been preparing for this for some time," said first-year Mundelein coach Matt Badgley. "We held him back some in the summer, and we held him back during conditioning and he just kept sticking his head in there and basically telling us that he wanted it."
Mundelein got off to a running start in the first half, building a 31-23 advantage at the break. Enright was a key contributor on the defensive end, but the play of Bikus inside and out helped the Mustangs gain the lead.
Bikus managed 17 of his 21 points in the opening half and is expected to be counted on throughout the season to contribute offensively.
"Jeff is a guy who we have to be able to utilize his size," Badgley said. "We moved him around some tonight. We are trying to make sure he rebounds and we are trying to make sure he attacks the basket."
The hosts broke away from Elk Grove by scoring the first 16 points to start the second half, with the most electrifying play coming from Enright.
It started when he jumped into the passing lane and picking off an errant Grenadiers pass. Quickly, Enright moved up the floor and finished with a flash. His bucket and subsequent close of a 3-point play made it 45-23 late in the third period.
"I try and work on my speed and run a lot," Enright said. "That, and my defense -- I take a lot of pride in my defense and work hard at it."
Elk Grove (0-1) did stay with the Mustangs in the first half due in part to the play of junior Jonathan Salinas. He had 9 of his 11 points in the opening half for Elk Grove.
"This is a group that hasn't played a lot together so we knew going in that we need to work on sustaining things for as long as possible and they are learning," said Elk Grove coach Anthony Furman. "It's not surprising that we saw some good things, and some breakdowns as well."
Tyler Selvig led Elk Grove with 13 points and 8 rebounds.