This season's young and inexperienced OPRF boys basketball team seems to be growing wiser and more skillful quarter by quarter, half by half, and game by game.
The Huskies (6-1, 2-0) showed their youthfulness in the first half of an uninspiring 47-43 victory over Glenbard West (2-4, 0-2) in Glen Ellyn on Friday.
Unable to capitalize on a mismatch in the paint due to the absence of Glenbard's 6-foot-7-inch Duncan Lawson (out for personal reasons), the Huskies, who trailed 17-14 at halftime, had to shoot near perfectly from the free-throw line in the second half and rattle off eight straight points in the fourth quarter to edge their West Suburban (Silver) Conference rival.
"It wasn't pretty that's for sure," said OPRF head coach Al Allen. "We may be young, but we're a better team offensively than what we showed [tonight]."
OPRF didn't seem to match Glenbard West's physical style of play in the first half. Rebounding was minimal and the Huskies stuck to perimeter shooting. The team didn't reach the foul line until the second half, when the Huskies hit 11-of-15 free throws to help seal the victory.
Reserve guards Phil Gary and Quinn Peterson kicked started the offense in the second half, before Jason Simmons hit a three-pointer late in the fourth that led to eight straight OPRF points.
"Our young kids are still learning how to deal with certain situations," said Allen. "They have to pick up on things better and adjust. We're dealing with opponents that are very physical, and we need to match that intensity."
Junior Lamont Sanders led the Huskies with 15 points to go along with his eight rebounds. Sophomore Daniel Barnes added 10 points and five steals. Jason Pontone, who Allen refers to as "the rock of the team," had seven points and seven rebounds.
"Jason is playing like the leader we what him to be," said Allen. "He's aggressive and he's a playmaker. He's everywhere, diving for loose balls. One time I thought he left the bench to get a loose ball."
Standing in the way of OPRF's third straight conference title is Proviso West (6-2) and York, who the Huskies will host on Friday (7:30 p.m.). The Dukes boast a perfect record of 6-0, and are coming off a 63-56 victory over Downers Grove North.
"York is bigger that we are, and have four out of five starters returning this season," said Allen. "We will have our work cut out for us."