More wins means more pancakes for Schaumburg's Hodges brothers
Breakfast for dinner is a good change of pace.
Then again, it might be even better as the routine, like it is in the Hodges' household.
A win for the Schaumburg boys basketball team, which is anchored by the Hodges brothers -- big brother Mike and younger brother Chris -- means that cinnamon pancakes are in the making.
"Growing up, Chris and I always loved my dad's pancakes," Mike Hodges said. "They are these big cinnamon pancakes, and each one takes up the entire (circular frying) pan. We put on the syrup. They are so good."
Dad Avery Hodges made a deal with his hungry, pancake-loving boys, who each usually put away two or three of the giant pancakes in a sitting.
"He told us that when we win a game, he'll give us pancakes," Chris Hodges said. "It's a tradition we want to keep going."
It's a tradition that has been well-practiced this season as the Hodges boys have helped Schaumburg get 18 wins in 23 games. The 18-5 Saxons currently sit atop the Mid-Suburban League West standings along with Fremd.
"We are a tough team, and we want to keep building and getting better," Mike Hodges said. "We really want to go downstate this year."
It would be the perfect way for the Hodges brothers to wrap up their playing days together. This is Mike's last hurrah, in high school and with Chris.
Even though Mike is a senior and Chris is just a sophomore, the two brothers have played on the same teams together since Chris was a fifth grader. He played up on Mike's seventh grade feeder basketball team and rejoined Mike last year as a freshman on varsity.
All along the way, the brothers have been a handful for opposing teams.
Mike is a 6-foot-3 guard who can slash his way to the rim and can also consistently knock down shots from the perimeter. He poured in a career-high 31 points against Palatine earlier this season and enters Friday's game against Hoffman Estates just 32 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
"It felt like every shot I took in that game was going in," said Mike, who averages a team-high 17 points per game to go along with 4 assists per game, which is getting him interest from colleges at a variety of levels.
"But I love passing and getting assists as much as I love scoring."
Chris, who is already 6-foot-8, was blessed with unusual height, considering that dad Avery is 5-foot-10 and mom Selicia is just 5-foot-5.
A solid 225 pounds, Chris worked hard since earning a starting spot on varsity last year as a freshman to put on strength and muscle. And now, one of his biggest strengths, even as a sophomore, is his physicality in the lane. He averages 15 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game and is already receiving major Division I scholarship offers from schools such as Loyola, DePaul and Miami (Ohio). He's also gotten interest from Purdue.
Chris rolled up a career-high 38 points against Thornton Fractional South in the York Christmas tournament in which he hit 15-of-16 field goals. In that same game, Mike hit for 26 points.
"Chris is above his years," Schaumburg coach Wade Heisler said. "He shows a level of maturity on the court that is unparalleled for a sophomore. When the game is on the line, we can really count on Chris to get a big rebound or to execute under pressure, or to make a big shot. You don't always get that from a sophomore, but one thing that I think helps Chris play so confidently is that he has big brother Mike on the court with him and there's a certain comfort there for him with that.
"Chris and Mike are just very close and Mike does a great job of getting Chris to play with confidence."
The brothers aren't so close that they share a bedroom at home anymore.
"We used to," Chris said. "But we grew out of sharing the same room."
"We have king-size beds, so we needed our own rooms," Mike clarified.
However, the brothers are still close enough to read each other perfectly on the basketball court. They say their chemistry is one of their biggest strengths as teammates.
"We always look for each other," Mike said. "Chris sets ball screens for me. I look for him (in the post). We feed off each other really well. We've got this one alley-oop play that we like to do together. We've gotten it to go for big dunks for Chris twice so far this season."
Dunks for Chris, 3-pointers for Mike, the brothers could care less who gets more plays or bigger plays. They say they are honestly each other's biggest fans.
"I'm happy for my teammates when they do well, and I am really happy for my brother," Chris said.
"We both want to see each other succeed," Mike said. "When Chris does well, it feels like I'm doing well myself. And vice versa."
But the Hodges brothers aren't all rainbows and unicorns.
Over the years, they've had their share of trash talking-filled games of one-on-one at the local gym. And they argue sometimes about who is better.
"At first, I would get frustrated and mad when we would play," Chris said. "But in junior high, I started catching Mike, and I'd say it would be about 50/50, I'd beat him and he'd beat me."
One of Mike's favorite memories happened when he and Chris were playing an intense one-on-one game at a local gym a few years ago.
"I said to Chris, 'So you think you're better than me?' And he said 'Ya.' And I got physical with him, and he threw the ball at me," Mike said with a laugh. "That kind of stuff used to happen more. Now, not so much."
Now, the boys are getting more sentimental in their old age, especially in the twilight of Mike's high school career. Senior Night at Schaumburg is Friday as the Saxons host Hoffman Estates.
It will be an emotional night for the entire family.
"As a younger brother, I've always looked up to Mike," Chris said. "It's like, Wow ... that we are here now. It's surreal to think that he's about ready to go through his Senior Night."
Chris says that he will miss his big brother next year, but is trying to focus on the time he has left with him.
Mike is trying to be the stoic big brother and do the same thing.
"This does make me sad, knowing that we're getting close (to the end)," Mike said. "But I'm just going to make the most of this and I'm going to try to play as hard as I can and just keep having fun with my brother and my team."
Also, Mike will be trying to get pancakes. He wants more of his dad's cinnamon pancakes over the next month.
Lots and lots of pancakes.
Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw