Ahmer, Huntley off to strong start
Things have been trending upward and then some for the Huntley boys basketball team this season.
Coach Will Benson's squad was 8-1 overall to start the week and 4-0 in Fox Valley Conference play. That lone loss was a 1-point setback to Batavia on a last-second drained 3-pointer.
Reasons for the Red Raiders' hot start? Benson pointed to the recent play of Ben Ahmer, Aiden Wieczorek and Adam Guazzo. Ahmer, a third-year varsity player, is shooting more than 40% from 3-point range, and is averaging 15 points a game. Wieczorek is right there at 12 points per game and has been solid on defense and the boards, Benson noted. Guazzo, headed to Valparaiso for baseball, is averaging 8 points and 10 rebounds a contest. Huntley is the No. 2 seed at the upcoming DeKalb tournament.
The news is equally good on the west side of Elgin for the Larkin Royals, who started the season 7-1 overall and were at 3-0 in Upstate Eight action to start the week.
Damari Wheeler-Thomas is averaging 21 points, 5 assists and 5 steals, while Fernando Perez Jr. is at 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists and Jakob Blakley is averaging 15 points a contest -- giving the Royals three top-notch scoring threats. Coach Deryn Carter's team is averaging 71 points per game.
St. Edward update:
Yet another area team off to a torrid start is St. Edward, which was 8-2 overall and 1-0 in Metro Suburban Red action to begin the week. The Green Wave won the Westminster tournament and took third at the Aurora Christian-hosted Burney Wilke Classic.
Kaden Dawson, a 6-6 sophomore, and junior Ben Zielinski both average 10 points per game, while returning all-conference player Jacob Breier is at 7 points per game and at the top of his game on defense, leading the Wave in steals, as well as assists. "Jacob is one of the conference's best defenders," St. Edward coach Andy Zielinski pointed out.
The Chargers scored recent Fox Valley wins against Hampshire and Crystal Lake Central to even their league mark at 2-2 (5-2 overall).
Longtime Chargers coach Lance Huber said picking one or two standouts is tough. "Our guys have been playing very well as a team and each person has their role, and so far has been excelling in those roles, which is what we want them to do, and so far that has made our team successful," he said.
Huber said point guard Gabe Rivera has been one of many rays of light. "He does a great job running our team," he said. "Gabe has been making shots when other teams leave him open to double other guys, and he usually guards the other team's point guard which really helps our defense."
Kennon Cook almost had a triple-double in D-C's win over Hampshire recently with 9 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. Also helping out on the glass, Huber noted, have been Zach Ryza and Hunter Guyon. "These two guys have rebounded the ball extremely well the past two games and have been very strong around the basket offensively," Huber said.
Westminster Christian update:
Justin Glanzer, Nathaniel Ephrem and Justin McGinnis have been standouts for the Warriors in the early going of the season. Glanzer helps Westminster on the perimeter, while Ephrem is the team's point guard and penetrator. McGinnis is usually in that 10-point, 8-10-rebound neighborhood, coach Jake Fritze said. Fritze added Ephrem is a general double-figure scorer, while Glanzer, "plays so hard that in five games he has already broken a tooth and split his chin, needing five stitches," he noted.
Coach Adam McCloud cited recent strong play from senior point guard Mike Clark, junior center Zack Bauer and sophomore guard Jake Hornok. The Trojans, 2-2 since Thanksgiving, are holding opponents to 44 points per game, "which has kept us competitive late in games," McCloud pointed out.
Aurora Central update:
Sam Carroll has been hitting shots consistently for the Chargers so far this season, while Edrick Contreras, "works extremely hard," coach Tim Swanson said. "He doesn't get cheated by lack of effort."
Richard Santiago was off to a 14-point-a-contest scoring start for the Sabres, while Cris Calderon has been right behind him at 12 points.
"We lost all five starters from last season and we knew it would take time this season to be competitive," Sabres coach Kent Payne said, whose team advanced to the Upstate Eight semifinals last season.
Burlington Central update:
The Rockets are another Fox Valley Conference success story, off to a 3-0 beginning. Coach Brett Porto noted Nick Carpenter, Zac Schmidt and Drew Scharnowski have been playing well of late. The Rockets have been without multisport standout Gavin Sarvis for two weeks due to injury, "and are hopeful that he will return soon," Porto said.
St. Charles North update:
The North Stars recorded recent wins on the road to Wheaton North (47-34) and at home against Geneva (56-47) to move to 5-3 overall and 2-1 in DuKane action.
Ned Hayes had 16 points in the Geneva win, including 13 in the first half, while Justin Hughes added 13 points. Jude Love had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds against Wheaton North.
St. Charles North is shooting 38% from the 3-point line, coach Tom Poulin pointed out.
Aurora Christian update:
The Eagles were off to a 5-1 start with Drew Meyers being one key contributor. He hit for 29 points in a recent game against Aurora Central Catholic, and is averaging 14 points and 5.6 assists per game.
"What impressed me about our team is the ability to play hard and play together," coach Dan Beebe noted.
Sophomore guard Troyer Carlson, a standout on the football field in the fall, has put up some eye-opening numbers early on for the Knights. Carlson scored 29 points against Rochelle and had 24 points against Marian Central Catholic.
Classmate Parker Violett, a forward, had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds against West Chicago. Kaneland was 4-3 overall to start the week.
Golden Eagles junior Brett Schlicker had a career-high 20 points in the team's recent game against Crystal Lake South.
On the further good news front, Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts noted standout Nick McCoy, who broke a finger before Thanksgiving, could return some time during the Hinkle Holiday Classic that Jacobs hosts.
Grant Stec, a 6-6 sophomore and a notable football talent already on college radars, will be back in early January, Roberts added.
"Despite being short-handed and missing guys all season, the guys are resilient and getting better and better each time out," Roberts said.
Jabe Haith, Collin Wainscott and Trendell Whiting have been busting it on both ends of the court, coach Joe Piekarz reported. "All three have been playing solid basketball offensively and defensively of late," he said.
"The team has been making huge strides the first month of the season," Piekarz added. "We play an incredibly difficult schedule, and the guys have embraced that and improved every game."
The Whip-Purs picked up a quality win against Cary-Grove in recent FVC action.
Adam Ugochukwu was cited for strong play. He had 8 points against Huntley. "Adam has been more aggressive in the interior as of late," Whip-Purs coach Mike Featherly said.
Nick Louis also has been an asset for the Whips, "shooting the ball well for us from the 3-point line," Featherly said.
Featherly has zero complaints about his team's work ethic. "They continue to fight every game and understand that improvement is a process that doesn't come overnight," he said.