Boys Basketball: Kenny Obendorf leads a solid Waubonsie Valley squad
Updated: March 15, 2012 7:42PM
Four years ago, in the fall of 2008, they collectively entered the halls of Waubonsie Valley High School as freshmen, seemingly ready to begin contributing to the Warriors’ strong legacy on the basketball court, which includes winning 13 regional titles and a sectional title in 1990-91.
But instead of comprising part of Waubonsie Valley’s Class of 2012 and perhaps joining forces with the likes of juniors Jared Brownridge and Bryan Jefferson, the opening of a third high school in District 204 one year later forged a new path for the seven seniors that would go on to make up Metea Valley’s first senior class on the basketball court in two years’ time.
Bolstered by having everyone back from its inaugural 15-13 campaign last year, expectations were high for the Mustangs coming into the 2011-12 season, led by the likes of seniors Kenny Obendorf and Ryan Solomon.
Rattling off 14 consecutive victories to begin the season, Metea Valley immediately displayed the benefits and luxury of retaining everyone from a team that showed glimpses of its capabilities a year ago in upsetting former East Aurora standout Ryan Boatright and the Tomcats before pulling off consecutive road upsets against Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley to close out the regular season.
“I know most people might say, ‘I’m surprised at how well they are doing so far,’” Waubonsie Valley coach Steve Weemer said before the two teams’ first meeting on Jan. 11, which Waubonsie Valley won, 62-61, handing Metea Valley its first loss of the year. “But I’m not (surprised). Our coaches aren’t because we’ve known these kids since middle school. Most of their kids all played together at Hill Middle School. They came to Waubonsie as freshmen, at our Gold campus. We had all the kids that were up and the freshman team still had a great year. So we knew. That’s how I know.
“I know the new high school was getting built and we were like, ‘Man, this group is gonna be really fun to coach. They’re gonna be a really good group.’ Well, then, they started the new high school and those kids all went to the new school. So, no, not surprised. We knew they’d be good. Obviously, they’ve gotten better since their freshman year and (Metea Valley) coach (Bob) Vozza has done just an outstanding job with them. They’re really good. They’ve played well together, their chemistry is good. That’s not a surprise to me. … We all knew that they were gonna be a good group.”
Concluding its second year at the varsity level at 25-5 and with the program’s first regional title in tow, the legacy that Metea Valley’s seven seniors have left as the program’s first senior class should be undeniable in seasons to come.
Seeing its season go all the way to the 2012 Class 4A East Aurora Sectional Final before being eliminated by West Aurora, Metea Valley showed this year where it aims to be in the future: competing year in and year out to go deep in the state tournament.
“If you’re playing basketball, you want to be the best, so I guess that’s the ultimate goal,” Obendorf said of winning a state championship, after the Mustangs picked up their first-ever postseason victory Feb. 28 against Geneva.
Despite coming four victories shy of a Class 4A state title, a lot of the success the program enjoyed this season is due heavily in large part to the individual success and exploits of Obendorf----the Naperville Sun’s 2011-12 Prep Basketball Player of the Year.
Building off a junior campaign, which saw him score a team-high 14.9 points a game, he took his game to another level in averaging a team-high 17.4 points a game en route to helping lead the Mustangs to an appearance in the 2012 Class 4A East Aurora Sectional.
Sweeping MVP honors both in the Joliet West Thanksgiving Tournament and the Hinsdale South Holiday Tournament, Obendorf earned the distinction of being named the Upstate Eight Valley Player of the Year as Metea Valley carried a 22-4 record into the postseason.
“Just a quiet leader for us and immensely talented offensively,” Vozza said after watching his senior star average 23.5 points in the Mustangs’ four victories in the Hinsdale South Holiday Tournament.
Earning their way into their first sectional after picking up postseason victories over Geneva and Benet, the Mustangs were driven all year long by the 6-foot-2, 165-pound Obendorf.
“He’s a great player. He’s the Player of the Year in the Upstate Eight for a reason,” Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said of Obendorf, a day before the Mustangs would claim their first regional title with a 45-44 victory over the Redwings. “He’s a great shooter and he’s good around the basket. He does a lot of things.”
Showing off his wares as a good shooter, Obendorf finished his high school career on somewhat of a high note personally with a solid 25-point performance in the loss to West Aurora on March 9, all the while doing his best to try to help push his team past one of the most storied basketball programs in the state.
While he and his teammates saw their season end shy of their ultimate goal, his coach knows how much Obendorf grew as a player over the course of the last three years to enable him to help lead the Mustangs on such an extended run in just the program’s second year competing on the varsity level.
“Throughout our time with him, we envisioned this for him his senior year and I think it took a lot out of us to convince him that he could be this good,” Vozza said. “I know he has always had success in his basketball career, but I don’t think he realized how good he could be.”