Having a ball during summer

Local hoop teams prep for the winter with decent showing at summer tourney

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By CHRIS PUMMER

The scores didn't mean much, and frankly, neither did the wins and losses. But Oak Park-River Forrest and Fenwick teams were both happy with their showings over the weekend at the 11th Annual Minuteman Classic.

Noted for bringing together top area basketball squads, the tournament is one of the last big events for teams as the summer practice season comes to a close.

Despite a 4-1 record at the Minuteman, the Huskies have learned that depth is something they'll need to work on going into the winter season. Without Lemont Sanders and Jason Simmons, who are expected to be OPRF's top two players, the Huskies were blown out by Reavis 51-32 in their first game on Friday.

OPRF coach Al Allen said it wasn't just the margin by which the team lost, but how it lost by giving up so many points in a game with a running clock.

"I don't think you should use any excuse to go belly up like we did in the first game," Allen said of playing with a depleted roster. "Someone could always get suspended, get sick or be in foul trouble, and you should just move on, even in the summer."

Despite the spotty outing to kick off the tournament, OPRF would go 4-0 the rest of the way, beginning with a 44-38 bounce-back win against Palatine in the second game Friday.

With Sanders and Simmons back on the court, the Huskies reeled off a 40-39 win against Naperville North in their first game Saturday, before handling both Hinsdale South, 52-35, and Lake Forest, 66-29.

Even with his two stars back, Allen still found playing time for everyone, including sophomores Iman Shumpert, Blake Austin, Dan Barnes and Seth Kazarian.

All are fighting for roles with the Huskies going into the winter.

"During the summer you just spend a lot of time trying to mix and match the kids to find out who's going to play next year," Allen said. "We need to get some of these guys to believe in themselves, because if you don't go out believing in yourself, then the decision is unanimous.."

Fenwick found itself in a similar situation, missing two key players in Peter Flowers and Shea Roche. The team also got limited playing time from Luke Burchett.

But the Friars still managed to cobble together a pair of wins against three losses.

After losing to Riverside-Brookfield 57-52, Fenwick rebounded for a 59-50 win against Willowbrook on Friday.

The Friars struggled in the first two games Saturday, losing a close game to Lake Forest 52-50 before Oswego cruised past them for a 55-40 win.

"At times we played summer league defense, which isn't like our team," Fenwick coach John Quinn said. "We weren't doing the things we do during the season to take away other teams' strengths, especially doubling down on their big post players. That's one of the things we have to work on since we don't have a lot of size."

Fenwick did end on a positive note, crushing Lemont 64-28 in its tourney finale.

Quinn was happy with the weekend's results, and saw a lot of progress on the court made by players like Bob Dingle, Newman Delaney and Tim Shaw.

"We just tried to get a lot of kids playing experience," Quinn said. "That's what the summer is about. A lot of teams are just trying to sort out their personalities, so I try to stay away from the coaching. That lets the players develop some leadership."

St. Joseph was the tournament champion in the boys' bracket, beating Stagg in the championship game.

The Fenwick girls finished fifth after going 3-1. After opening with a 38-24 win against Downers Grove South, the Friars were kicked out of the winner's bracket when Lyons Township handed them a 52-50 loss in the second game Friday.

The Friars came back Saturday and crushed Riverside-Brookfield, 41-32, before easily beating Hinsdale South, 60-44.

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