Waubonsie Valley knew it could count on Skeete
Providing his own brand of lightning, Marcus Skeete struck twice in the same place.
More than twice, actually.
Waubonsie Valley had a great boys basketball season in 2018-19, winning 27 games, one off the program record.
The Warriors returned one starter from that team, not a surefire recipe for continued success.
There was no slump in Aurora because Skeete was that sole returning starter. A three-time all-DuPage Valley Conference selection and the DVC's most valuable player this season, the versatile 6-foot-5 senior anchored a group of quality teammates who again won 27 games.
"I think without Marcus to bridge that gap it would have been a lot more difficult for us to continue the winning ways," said Warriors coach Jason Mead.
"Not just on the court, which was kind of obvious, but to keep the culture moving in the right direction from where we had gotten it to in the previous group."
"Definitely appreciating each other," Skeete said, "and not thinking that individuals are bigger than the program."
In this case we've got to make an exception. Skeete's diverse skill set and leadership make him the captain of the 2019-20 Daily Herald DuPage County All-Area Boys Basketball Team.
By the numbers
Skeete filled the stat sheet, too big and strong to be handled by a guard but a tough cover for a forward.
"We thought he was unstoppable," said Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton. "We did everything we could to limit him and we just couldn't. It wasn't just against Neuqua Valley, it was on every game tape we watched. He just didn't miss shots."
Skeete averaged 16.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.6 steals. He made 57 percent of his shots inside the 3-point arc and a strong 39 percent beyond it. He attempted nearly twice as many free throws as anyone else on his team and made 77 percent.
Skeete had a flair for the dramatic, nailing game-winning, last-second 3s against Oswego East and Naperville Central in consecutive games.
Yet he was not flashy, and just as eager to pass to a teammate who had a better shot. He got a kick out of seeing teammates Ben Schwieger slam a lob pass or Isaiah Smith run out for a breakaway dunk.
"I think one of the things that was so interesting was in our last regular-season game he didn't score a lot against Metea Valley, but he was just as active in our offense because he was finding open guys," Mead said of Skeete's 9 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds.
"He knew what to do when teams were overplaying him. He wasn't one of those guys that had to have the ball. He was capable of making plays and distributing it to other people if that was the right play."
Skeete also was capable of taking over a game.
He scored 33 points with 15 rebounds and 5 assists in an 86-69 win at East Aurora. He scored 35 points with 14 rebounds in a 62-55 win over Oswego.
In a typically well-rounded effort Skeete scored 24 points with 7 rebounds and 4 assists in a 21-point win over Marian Catholic at Moline.
And the capper: Skeete tied a 40-year-old Waubonsie Valley record with 41 points plus 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in a 78-65 win over Cary-Grove in the title game at Jacobs' Hinkle Holiday Classic. Skeete made 15 of 23 shots from the field and all 10 free-throw attempts.
It was one of three sites where Skeete earned all-tournament honors.
Bridge to excellence
The Cary-Grove game was one of two Skeete remembered most.
"That night I had a big scoring night. But the thing I remember from that night is everybody did their roles, and to the best of their ability," said Skeete, whose twin sister, Faith, is a sprinter on the Warriors girls track team.
The other was a loss to DeKalb, later avenged.
"This loss was a big part of our season because it was the first time we faced adversity in our season against a high-pressure defense, they were physical," he said.
"We couldn't just be soft and throw the ball up. We had to have some intensity, some edge to us. Also in that loss after the game you've got guys like Adri Malushi and Justin Starks speaking up and voicing their opinion on how can we get better."
Advocating for juniors. That's leadership, and it was not surprising coming from this humble young man.
"His actions matched his talk when it came to our culture and continuing the success we had last year and trying to build on it for this year," Mead said.
Skeete, who has interest from each NCAA level, savored the responsibility.
"I felt like I had to lead and be that guy," he said.
Skeete was -- is -- that guy.