By Brad Spencer
OPRF is a high school boys basketball team with a sense of urgency.
The Huskies, who are coming off two straight seasons with 20 victories, have had their ups and downs this year. The team concluded West Suburban Silver Division play with a 47-41 win over York on Friday and finished the conference with a record of 8-4. They were 17-8 overall with one game left before beginning the Class 4A State playoffs, where a difficult regional awaits at Glenbard North.
The Huskies, the No. 3 seed in the Schaumburg Sectional, will open against either North Lawndale Charter or Glenbard North on Feb. 26 (6 p.m.). A win there will pit OPRF against one of two familiar opponents coming out of the other semifinal in Morton and Schaumburg.
The Huskies rolled both Morton, 61-54, and Schaumburg, a team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season, 50-40, back in December. Whichever opponent emerges, head coach Matt Maloney won't be taking them lightly the second time around despite the regular season success.
"Morton has top 20 talent and their players are extremely confident and loose on the floor," he said. "We beat them at their place, but it was a dog fight. They have two or three Division-I players on their roster and several others who will play college basketball. They are a dangerous team, along with the Saxons."
As of last week Morton had won 16 victories during a season that included competing in the stocked Proviso West Holiday Tournament. But with junior guard Erick Locke (20 points per game) leading the charge and the Huskies at full-strength for the most part, OPRF should be on the road to Schaumburg to likely take on York again on March 6 (7:30 p.m.). The Dukes will need to escape a difficult regional of their own where Lyons Township and Bartlett exist. OPRF fell to Lyons 61-55 just a couple of weeks ago.
"If LT gets hot, like they did against us, they could give York a game," said Maloney. "However, David Cohn is one of the top players in the sectional and they lost in the regionals last season. I am sure they have some unfinished business to take care of this year and will use last years' experience as motivation."
But what's going to motivate the Huskies, who also blew past Downers Grove North 63-33 before taking on York last week? It's the thought of a season ending too soon.
"We need to play more consistently on the offensive side of the ball," insisted Maloney. "We have shown flashes of brilliance; however, we must find that sense of urgency and put teams away earlier in games."
Locke, who bucketed a season high 30 against Downers North, scored 19 points to lead all scorers against York on Friday, while Alex Gustafson added 13 points and TK Mattox hauled down 11 rebounds for the Huskies.
The Colorado State-bound Cohn was held to just eight points.