Injuries to Calvin, Christie tough on Viator, Meadows
Every athlete in the history of team sports has probably done it.
They've slapped hands with, or high-fived, a teammate.
Thousands, millions of hand slaps. Each season. Maybe per month. Per week even.
And 99.9 percent of the time, these hand slaps go off without a hitch.
But last week, a seemingly innocent hand slap at a St. Viator boys basketball practice took a one-in-a-million wrong turn and has sidelined one of the best players in the Northwest suburbs until perhaps the start of the state tournament in late February.
So now, the Lions are re-thinking hand slaps, wondering if nods, waves, salutes or even air kisses would be a safer way to acknowledge teammates.
"I'm definitely thinking maybe no hand-slaps for awhile," St. Viator coach Quin Hayes said with a pained chuckle.
Hayes is dealing with the loss of leading scorer and point guard Trey Calvin to an errant hand slap. Calvin, a Division I commit to Wright State who is averaging 20 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals per game, has a broken hand. He is likely to be out for six weeks.
At practice last Thursday, Calvin was trying to slap hands with a teammate with his back turned and swung his hand backward and the back of his left hand accidentally hit the elbow of the teammate.
Calvin was in pain immediately, and could no longer even dribble or catch the ball. X-rays later showed that Calvin's bone just below the ring finger was broken.
"We do thousands of things in practice every day where an injury could happen. Hand-slapping isn't one of them," said Hayes, trying to keep his sense of humor. "It's just a freak thing, a one-in-a-million thing.
"It's a tough situation for us and we are doing our best to deal with it. But no one feels good about it, that's for sure. I think it's discouraging to our guys a little bit because Calvin means so much. But we are doing our best to pick up the pieces."
The Lions were 14-2 when Calvin got hurt and then lost their next two games over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Calvin has been in constant contact with trainers and doctors and now sports a cast on his left hand. Best-case scenario for him is a four-week recovery period, but more likely he will be out six weeks, which would put his return right at the start of the IHSA tournament.
"He's a little down, that's for sure," Hayes said of Calvin. "But he'll get through it. He's resilient and he knows this isn't a career-ending injury or anything like that. He has an understanding of the bigger picture."
Then again, Calvin doesn't want his high school career to end like this. So he will do everything he can to maintain his game while his hand heals. He wants to be ready to jump back into the rotation the second he is cleared by his doctors.
"We aren't going to push him into anything. We will be careful. But if he is healthy and he feels OK, we will have him ready," Hayes said. "We'll have a program for him so that he can work on his conditioning so that when he does come back, he's not so far behind.
"Hopefully, the one good thing is that the time off will give him fresh legs (for the tournament)."
Another superstar sidelined: As if the Trey Calvin injury at St. Viator wasn't enough, on the exact same day that happened, another injury to a local boys basketball star shook the Northwest suburbs.
Also at practice on Thursday, Rolling Meadows sophomore Max Christie took a knee to the thigh on his way to the basket for a layup and came away with a serious deep thigh bruise.
So serious, in fact, that Christie showed up to school the next day on crutches.
Christie missed the Mustangs' next game over the weekend to Prospect, a loss for Rolling Meadows.
Christie is day-to-day and is hoping to be back soon, but doctors and trainers are being cautious with him.
"It just depends on how Max responds to treatment," Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich said. "Max is really bummed. He is such a competitor and such a team player and he wants to be out there helping his team. I think it really hit him when he walked into the gym for our game on Friday. You could tell he was really disappointed."
Fans were disappointed, too.
"Our security guys were telling us that when fans walked through and saw Max on crutches, they weren't happy either," Katovich said. "A lot of people want to see him play."
Christie, regarded as one of the top sophomores in the country, had guided Rolling Meadows to a 10-5 overall record and a 3-1 mark in the Mid-Suburban East prior to his injury.
All for one, one for all: There isn't one player who can make up for the loss of Trey Calvin at St. Viator, or for Max Christie at Rolling Meadows.
Both Quin Hayes and Kevin Katovich, the head coaches at St. Viator and Rolling Meadows respectively, expect that they will need a collective effort from multiple players to fill their voids.
"What we're going to miss from Trey is going to have to be evenly distributed through the rest of the team," Hayes said. "A lot of other guys are going to get more minutes and we will have a lot of guys who will be counted on and battle-tested by the end of the season."
Hayes is confident that two sophomores, 6-foot-7 forward Michael Huene and guard Connor Kochera, will be among those who step up their games significantly.
Meanwhile, Rolling Meadows will be counting more on juniors Nife Oseni, Jonah Ogunsanya and Danny Fallon, who has started in place of Christie.
"To not have Max is really tough for us, especially because we thought we were clicking. We were playing well," Katovich said. "But in the long run, this will probably make us a better team because it will give some of our other guys opportunities to play and step up without him."
Tough sledding: First-year Elk Grove Nick Oraham wanted to hit the ground running.
So he didn't schedule cupcakes in his rookie season. He went for some perennial powers and respected programs. Oraham scheduled teams like Geneva, Lake Forest and Downers Grove North.
The Grens are just 4-14 on the season, but Oraham is more concerned with the big picture and what a challenging schedule can do for his players in the long run.
"I knew we were going to struggle a little bit," Oraham said. "But I wanted us to be challenged and pushed. The only way for us to get better is to play quality opponents. Taking some lumps now will only make us better later.
"We are upbeat in practice, we are energetic from drill to drill, we just need to translate that to our games and sustain that for 32 minutes."
Not so reserved: There are 18 players on the Elk Grove boys varsity basketball team.
First-year coach Nick Oraham did that by design.
He wanted some of his deeper bench players to be able to play junior varsity games to get good minutes for experience.
That tactic is paying off as some of those players, such as Brandon Burns, are now getting meaningful minutes on the varsity.
Burns started Elk Grove's most recent game against Wheeling to fill in for injured starter Mike Achanzar, who is out with a knee injury.
"We take those JV games really seriously so that we can get our guys experience playing in games," Oraham said. "Our bench has gotten a lot better and has been a bright spot for us. Guys like Devin McKinney and Roderick Fowler are playing well. A kid like Brandon is stepping up. He shoots the ball well and he's got a lot of confidence for a sophomore."
Standings update: At the halfway point of Mid-Suburban League conference play, Prospect is the only undefeated team with a 5-0 record in the Mid-Suburban League East.
There is a three-way tie for second-place between Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove and Hersey, all of which have 3-2 MSL East records.
In the MSL West, Fremd and Schaumburg sit atop the standings with 4-1 records while Conant is next at 3-2.
In the East Suburban Catholic, St. Viator is tied with Notre Dame for fourth place with a 2-1 record.