Haack, Downers North roll over Downers South
Max Haack was practically born to be a Downers Grove North basketball player.
All his life, he's patiently waited until he was old enough to play against -- and beat -- Downers Grove South.
Haack, who is the son of Downers North assistant coach Jim Haack, finally got his chance Saturday and the result was all he dreamed of and then some.
The junior guard sank three 3-pointers in the first quarter, including the first basket of the game, and finished with a game-high 16 points. Haack's shooting prowess was a major reason why the host Trojans rolled to a 58-32 victory over the Mustangs.
"It was really cool that everyone contributed to the game," Haack said. "Once we get off to a hot start, it's really hard to stop us.
"With the crowd and energy, once you hit those first two 3s and get your team involved, then everyone comes together. It's really fun and a good atmosphere."
Indeed, nearly all the Trojans got in on the action. Nine players scored, with Jacob Bozeman tallying nine points, George Wolkow and Owen Thulin eight apiece and Finn Kramper seven points.
"All of our guys have been pretty productive from the perimeter," Downers North coach Jim Thomas said. "Max obviously shoots it very well.
"Bozeman can do the same. You saw Owen hit one early, so we've proved to be very good offensively when all our guys are able to make shots and space the floor properly."
The Trojans (6-3) shot 18 of 35 and sank 11 3-pointers, including four by Haack and two each from Bozeman and Thulin. Jack Stanton's trey midway through the third quarter gave North a 38-7 cushion.
The Mustangs (1-8) responded with a 16-2 run, but Haack buried his fourth 3 at the 5:35 mark of the fourth quarter to snuff the rally. It was a bit of a storybook scenario for Haack, who has been around the Downers North program since he was a toddler.
"It's been a dream since I was a little kid," Haack said. "I remember going home after Friday night games and playing on my mini-hoop about going out for South vs. North and just any game.
"It was just super fun because I remember going to the practices every day with my dad. The bond between me and Thomas and my dad is really nice, so I enjoy it."
So does Thomas, who is close with the family.
"Our staff has been together for 15 years, so Jim and myself, a lot of times after games I'm at their house eating dinner with the family, so I've known Max since he was 2 years old," Thomas said. "The dynamic is really cool and then being a coach's son is different.
"I've got four kids of my own, so that's always a special moment."
Haack is the youngest of four children but the first to play for his dad. This is his first year on varsity, so father and son are relishing the experience.
"It's unbelievable," Jim Haack said. "I told him the first game we came out, you're nervous as a coach because you don't really have a say in the game, meaning I can't go on the floor.
"We can do all the behinds the scenes stuff, and now it's double fold with him being on the floor because I'm part coach and part dad, and trying to separate those two is hard. But it really makes me feel really good because he's put the work in to get where he is."
The younger Haack is continuing to work hard, and not just on his shooting. He scored 20 points in a game last month, making every shot he took, but said his performance against Downers South was better.
"I think this is one of my better games overall because in the Thanksgiving tournament, I scored but I didn't really play defense," Max Haack said. "I thought my defense was way more impactful this game.
"I've been trying to develop my defense, so I was happy about the defense today as well as the offense."
Jim Haack was happy to hear those sentiments and hope they continue as father and son traverse a special season.
"I'm just kind of riding the wave because it's not going to last long," Jim Haack said. "Another year and he's going to be in college and it's going to be allover.
"I'm proud of him. He's working hard and it working out for him."