Central teams seek order on the court

Devils’ boys and girls basketball teams shoot for steady progress throughout season

The final installment in the Hinsdale Central winter sports preview series takes the matter to court — the basketball court, that is.

The Red Devil boys and girls hoops squads are both looking for steady improvement as the season unfolds. The tough West Suburban Silver conference will undoubtedly put them to the test, but they’re eager to show they can rise to the challenge.

Boys and girls hockey were featured Nov. 24, and boys swimming, girls gymnastics and wrestling were previewed in th Dec. 1 issue.

Boys basketball

First game: Nov. 21 vs. Naperville North (V won 50-48)

Last season: 19-11 (lost in the regional final)

Head coach: Nick Latorre

Years as Central head coach: 13

No. of players on varsity: 20

Team strengths: We have a lot of experience back from last year which helps. We’re a very senior heavy group, and I think all those seniors are bringing some form of leadership to the team. We’re pretty talented on both ends of the floor. I like the way this group has really committed to working hard and wanting to be great. The group seems to really get along well and like each other. We’re very deep, and it’s really led to some competitive practices.

Areas for growth: Two areas we’ve really been a focusing on is playing tougher defensively and sharing the ball. If we can do those two thing and defend with some sense of urgency, I think this group has got an opportunity to do some great things.

Who to watch: Our whole starting lineup is solid. Senior Ben Oosterbaan has led us in scoring so far this year, but we’ve had contributions from all five guys, including senior forwards Chase Collignon and Billy Cernugel. Senior guard Evan Phillips has been a rock at the point position with a 5-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and senior guard Emerson Eck has also been solid. Seniors Pat Graham and Jack Trainer and junior Will Gaffney have been doing a nice job off the bench for us.

Season outlook: We want to try to get better each day and just hopefully we continue to improve and get better. Our conference is really deep, and it’s going to be tough. The upcoming Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic should be a great tournament with a lot of good teams.

Girls basketball

First game: Nov. 15 vs. Metea Valley (V won 56-45)

Last season: 16-13, lost in regional final

Head coach: Erin Navolio

Years as Central head coach: first, assistant coach for 10 years

No. of players on varsity: 9

Team strengths: We’re very young. We have two seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and one freshman. We don’t have a lot of girls with a ton of varsity experience, but all very coachable and willing to do what I tell them. They all get on really well with each other and are a very competitive bunch.

Areas for growth: We need to grow in experience and confidence. Just be able to learn to try and trust one another and be a team, really. I’ll see moments where it will start to click here and there in practice and in games. As long as they trust the process and work together, they’ll improve. We watch film and review things and learn from our mistakes so we don’t continue to make the same mistakes in every game.

Who to watch: Senior guards Amelia McLaughlin and Ivy Qiu, junior guards Luella Sheehan and Ryann Knapp, and sophomore guard Grace Dolan are all returning varsity players. Junior forward Greta Dani is also one to watch. Everybody has a really great opportunity to play this year and show their skills and their talents.

Season outlook: Everyone in our conference is always incredibly competitive — and we’re lucky to be part of such a competitive conference. I know they’ll rise to the challenge. We just to go into the games with no fear and try and get better at what we can control. Our goal is to improve with every practice and every game, and just focus on who’s in front of us. I entered Hinsdale Central (as a student) the year the team won state. So I’m aware of how amazing this program has been and how and amazing it can be, and we want to get it back to what it was. In my first year as coach I have a lot of very supportive families, and athletic director Dan Jones has been very helpful in my transition.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean