Boys Basketball: ‘D’ delivers for RomeovilleLarkin's Ian Fluhler (12) is guarded by Romeoville's Nate Washington (11) during the second quarter at Elgin High School in Elgin, Ill., on Wednesday, December 21, 2011.
| Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
Updated: January 10, 2012 6:24PM
For a team struggling to find its way early in the season, a victory over the defending conference champion could help move the squad in the right direction.
“I hope so,” Romeoville coach Jeff Bambule said about the Spartans’ victory Friday over 2011 Southwest Prairie champion Plainfield South. “A win like that is something that could spark us.”
Although the 71-67 victory was just Romeoville’s fifth in 16 games, Bambule sees a different team on the floor from the one that started the season at the WJOL Tournament.
“We’re better now than we were a month ago,” said Bambule, in his 13th season as coach. “When Feb. 1 comes around, we want to be even better.
“One thing has been a consistent effort defensively. We went back to the basics of ‘Get after it.’ We’re going to come after you with the half-court trap.”
Bambule is counting on seniors Nate Washington, Jaylen Nunn and Uchenna Akuba, a transfer from Hinsdale Central, to lead the Spartans through the second half of the season.
Juniors Calvin Price, Lamont Ross and Duvaun Goodlow also will be key to the Spartans’ success. The varsity roster also includes Ryan Hurtado, Bobby Leach, Jimmy Moon, Mohamed Koleitat, Ezekiel Williams, Jaylon Richardson and Jake Bambule, the coach’s son.
A huge challenge waits Friday against undefeated Plainfield East, No. 1 in the Herald-News and No. 3 in the Sun-Times.
“They have size, speed, quickness,” Bambule said. “Their nucleus, it’s their third year playing together. They’re experienced.”
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Morris (8-5) had won four in a row entering Tuesday’s game against Pontiac, including a 45-41 overtime victory Friday over Sycamore. The leading scorers have been forwards Jake Olson (16.6 points) and Danny Friend (10.5 points), who had 21 points in Friday’s victory.
Other key contributors have been Jason Matteson, Ben Ortiz, Jake Hogan, Evan Bjelland and point guard Austin Feeney, the quarterback who directed the football team to a 9-2 season in 2011. Feeney is averaging 6.2 assists a game and Hogan has hit 22-of-64 three-pointers, to go along with a team-high 23 steals.
Next for the Redskins is a Friday home game against Northern Illinois Big 12 East rival Kaneland (10-5). After a Jan. 21 date at Sterling, Morris has four straight home games, against Yorkville, Ottawa, Reed-Custer and DeKalb.
Providence (10-5, 2-2) stumbled Friday against St. Francis de Sales and faces a tough test Friday against Catholic South co-leader Seton (14-2, 4-0), No. 21 in the Sun-Times.
The Celtics had been on a roll, taking third place in the consolation bracket at the Hinsdale South Holiday Tournament and defeating Tinley Park on Jan. 4.
The schedule doesn’t get easier with four of the next five games after Friday on the road followed by a home date Feb. 7 against St. Rita, No. 10 in the Sun-Times.