By Brad Spencer
After going 3-3 to start the season, the OPRF boys basketball team has been rolling. The Huskies have now won 10 of their last 11 games, mostly behind the play of Brooks transfer Erick Locke.
The junior, who actually played at OPRF his freshman season before spending his sophomore season at the Chicago school, led the Huskies to a 55-48 win over Glenbard West in West Suburban (Silver) Conference action on Friday night in Glen Ellyn. Locke scored 20 points, hauled down six rebounds and pocketed four steals as the Huskies (13-4, 5-0) pushed their conference undefeated streak to five games.
OPRF took a 23-18 lead into halftime, but outscored the Hilltoppers 15-6 in the third to begin the final period up 14.
Senior guard Jakari Cammon added 14 points for the Huskies, while Thomas Ross came within one rebound and one block of a triple-double, instead finishing with 10 points, nine boards and nine swats.
Locke averaged 20 points in the four-game Pontiac Holiday Tournament. In a 65-40 victory over Evanston earlier last week, he ignited for a season-high 29 points — 20 of which came in the first half. OPRF head coach Matt Maloney said his point guard has found his rhythm and become accustomed to the offense.
"We haven't changed much [from the beginning of the season until now] except adding wrinkles to our offense to make it more effective and efficient," he said. "Since Erick had not run this offense before, it took him and others a few games to get used to the spacing and concepts. We knew that by the second half of the season we would start performing better on the offensive end."
Locke, who has an unorthodox — but, nonetheless, lethal — style of shooting, is getting help from his teammates.
"[Erick's] scoring surge is due to a higher comfort level with the offense and his teammates have done an exemplary job of sharing the ball and trusting his abilities," said Maloney.
Big man TK Mattox added 13 points for the Huskies in the lopsided win over Evanston. The 6-foot-7 center was also a scoring threat at the Pontiac Tournament, something that didn't surprise his head coach.
"We knew TK had the ability to perform at this level after his performances at the end of the season last year and this summer," said Maloney. "He has really turned the corner and we know that his game will continue to evolve."
Against Evanston, OPRF took a 15-7 lead after the first quarter and never looked back, expanding the deficit to 12 points by halftime.
The Huskies shot 56 percent (27-for-48) from the field in the game, while Evanston connected on just 14-of-42 for 33 percent.
OPRF hosts York at the fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 18 (7:30 p.m.). The Dukes, who, with just one loss, are also in contention for the conference title, boast Colorado State-bound guard David Cohn.