Mundelein, Badgley savor their Collinsville experience
What a great homecoming.
Mundelein boys basketball coach Matt Badgley used to be the athletic director at Collinsville, which is located in downstate Illinois near St. Louis.
One of his duties there was to run the annual boys basketball holiday tournament.
How fun it must have been for him four years later to take his Mustangs to Collinsville for the first time and make it all the way to the championship game of the 16-team tournament.
Mundelein lost to Collinsville in the sold-out finale that drew 3,200 fans, but went 3-1 for the tournament. And the Mustangs are still flying high after their hot start to the season. They are now 13-1 overall.
"The competition in that tournament is one of the best, if not the best, in the state every year," Badgley said of Collinsville. "Of the 16 teams there, 13 came in with winning records and three were undefeated, including us. It was fun to be there and I got to see a lot of people I used to know down there. It was a really enjoyable experience for me personally, and for our team.
"It was a great bonding experience for the players to be in the hotel and hang out every day. And we faced some really tough competition."
Young but seasoned: Mundelein isn't losing its head over its 13-1 start, which started with 13 straight wins.
"Even though we are young, we do have some experienced guys who are veterans," Mundelein coach Matt Badgley said. "That piece has been something we've needed to have a consistent push."
Point guard Conor Enright, who has committed to Drake, and forward Scottie Ebube, who has multiple Division I offers, have both been on the varsity for three years and are still just juniors. And Jack Bikus, also a junior, is a two-year starter.
Those three are the anchors of the team, averaging 40 points between them. Ebube leads the way at 16 points per game. Enright is at 13 points per game and Bikus is at 11 points per game.
"Those three are our core," Badgley said. "But there are some other guys that work really well with that group. We've got like five or six guys who have played together since they were in third grade."
Chris Rooney and Trey Baker have been longtime teammates with Ebube, Enright and Bikus. And Syam Atade has been a regular member of the main rotation.
"They are all a big piece of the puzzle," Badgley said of his top six.
Feeling the love: Five years ago when Mundelein managed only three wins on the season, fans were tough to come by.
Not so now.
The Mustangs have been feeling the love from fans in the community and particularly from the student section as they've rushed out to a 13-1 start.
"Our student section has grown immensely," Mundelein coach Matt Badgley said. "We've seen a lot more interest."
Badgley says the alums of the program, even those who endured some of the tough seasons in the mid-2010s, are also reaching out to send their best wishes on the start of this season. Some also come back to attend games.
"Those are the kids who really appreciate where we are because they know where we've been," Badgley said. "Those guys want to see our guys now do well. They're really proud of the guys now."
Ultimate balance: Some teams are balanced.
And then there's Wauconda.
The Bulldogs, who have run out to a 9-3 start on the season after finishing third at the E.C. Nichols Holiday Tournament at Marengo, couldn't be more balanced. Statistically anyway.
Every major statistical category is led by a different player.
Donovan Carter leads Wauconda in scoring at 17.8 points per game.
Jake Shanholtzer has got the rebounds covered at 6.3 per game.
Ben Chung is the top playmaker with 4 assists per game.
Griffin Daun leads in steals at 2.5 per game.
And Garrison Carter is No. 1 in blocks with 1 block per game.
"We've even got a different guy leading in charges," Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager said. "Brad Nolan has 4 charges on the season.
"I don't think I've ever had a team like this where so many people are making major contributions. One thing we focus on is that it's not all about scoring. We tell our guys that if you're not scoring, go out and be determined to impact the game in a big way somewhere else and I think they have really taken that to heart."
Big milestone: The record books are on the verge of changing at Wauconda.
Senior guard Donovan Carter is about to become the all-time leading scorer of the boys basketball program. He is 100 points from beating the current record, held by Mike Fruend, who played from 1960 to 1964.
Fruend, who amassed 1,272 points, surpassed the previous record-holder, his brother Denny, who set the record of 1,153 points in 1958.
"Donovan gets shots inside, he can shoot from the perimeter, he runs the floor well," Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager said. "There are so many ways he can score."
Brother to brother: For the first time in his coaching run at Wauconda, Scott Luetschwager is starting brothers at the same time.
He says it has been fun to watch Donovan Carter and Garrison Carter work together, and try to one-up each other.
"There's a little bit of a sibling rivalry there," Luetschwager said. "But everything is always really positive between them. They are always pulling for each other, always helping each other, especially Donovan with Garrison since Garrison is younger.
"But one game in particular was really interesting. It was our last game over Christmas against Rockford Christian. Garrison had 28 points and Donovan had 25 points. To watch them scoring like that, back and forth between them, 53 points total, was really fun. There was definitely that feel of 'Anything you can do, I can do better.' They had fun with it."