Devils rebound from COVID season

Hinsdale Central boys and girls basketball programs are off to promising starts

By Ken Knutson

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High school basketball is back in all its glory! Or at least that's the hope, horns crossed, after a delayed and truncated season last year with no state playoffs, thanks to the pandemic.

The Hinsdale Central boys and girls 2021-22 campaigns are off and running, with both enjoying success at their respective season-opening Thanksgiving tournaments. This is the final installment of our winter sports preview series. Reports on the season's other sports ran in the Nov. 25 and Dec. 2 issues.

Boys basketball

First game: Nov. 22 vs. Naperville North at Hoops for Healing Tourney (V won 55-32)

Last season: 11-4, postseason canceled due to COVID-19

Head coach: Nick Latorre

Years as head coach: 12

No. of varsity members: 19

Team strengths: We have some talent this year. We have some depth. The group seems to really be committed to working really hard and playing unselfishly. It's a great group.

Areas for growth: Pretty much everywhere, We've got a long way to go to get where we want to be, but we're heading in the right direction. Defensively we've played well up to this point. Offensively we need to improve. In particular we need to see a little more consistency to what we're doing on offense.

Who to watch: Senior guard Jake Quast is off to a good start. Junior guard Ben Oosterbaan is off to really good start. Senior forward John Engels is giving us good presence inside. Evan Phillips, our point guard, has gotten off to a good start. Junior forward Chase Collignon and guard Emerson Eck have also done some really nice things for us.

Season outlook; As always, we want to improve as the season goes on. We don't talk about winning this or winning that. We just want to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season when it matters most. The guys are working hard and have a really positive attitude about the season. We're blessed with really good kids, and we're appreciative that we're able to have a season.

Girls basketball

First game: Nov. 16 vs. Metea Valley at Hornet/Red Devil Invite (V won 56-11)

Last season: 9-6, postseason canceled due to COVID-19

Head coach: Karen Persinger

Years as head coach: five

No. of varsity members: 10

Team strengths: The players have rallied around each other after having some teammates suffer injuries early this season, which is always tough, Our three (healthy) seniors have really stepped up and done a nice job helping our younger players. It's been tough to navigate that, but they're such great kids, so resilient in they way they've picked each other up and shown who they are as individuals.

Areas for growth: It's been a season of changes. We started the year with a great core returning - five seniors returning that have been with us for a long time, and we were really looking forward to having a great season and being really competitive within the conference. Then we were hit by the injury bug early this season. We lost senior Angie Conley to a shoulder injury, and we lost senior All-Conference guard Lanie Randle to a season-ending ACL (tear) on Saturday. We've had to reorganize who's doing what role and who's playing what position. Our players have been willing to step up to redefine our identity and recalibrate who we are and what our jobs are. We've kind of had two starts to the season.

Who to watch: Senior Nina Sarros has really elevated her game with her teammates being out. She's averaging 19 rebounds a game over the past week. Senior Eleanor Monyek has continued her consistent play. Tessa Howe is filling in gaps at the guard position, making big plays with steals and assists. I would also expect others to help pick up the slack.

Season outlook: I'm hoping to see us continue to get better every day and compete on a night-in, night-out basis. Our injuries don't change what we're going to set out to do, to challenge every team that's in our conference and every team that's on our schedule. I'm looking forward to seeing our team step up and see the obstacles we've been presented with as opportunities to rise above and compete our way through that adversity.

Furthermore: I think all of us are just grateful for being out here and having a season that feels pretty normal. It's been great having a full preseason, getting to do our preseason workouts. It's just a feeling of, "Man, this is awesome that we get to do this again."

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean