If you don’t expect too much from the OPRF boys basketball team at the 75th Annual Pontiac Holiday tournament beginning today, then you won’t be letdown.

This year’s field is rife with talent, including highly ranked teams such as Warren and Simeon?#34;both boasting several Division I prospects?#34;and the young Huskies (7-2) haven’t exactly been burning up any hardwood this season.

Last week, head coach Al Allen wasn’t about to put a spin on his team’s chances heading into the opening round match-up against undefeated Pontiac tonight (Wednesday, 9:30 p.m.).

“We will be playing a good team on their home court in front of their fans, and if we’re lucky enough to beat them we move on to play the No. 2-ranked team in the state (Simeon), so we’ll go out and do what we can,” he said bluntly. “Every game we play is a test for this young team. The thought is, no matter the outcome, we need to get them ready for the rest of the season.”

It was the 70-60 loss to York Dec. 16 still lingering on Allen’s mind. “We need to improve. [Against York] we didn’t improve. We took a huge step back. We need to play better basketball each game, win or lose, and then only good things will happen. That’s what we hope to do in Pontiac.”

Despite the lofty competition facing the Huskies over the holiday break, the team has several bright spots this season. Junior Lamont Sanders is averaging 17 points per game, and Daniel Barnes, one of three sophomore starters, is chipping in an average of 11 points.

“Daniel is a surprise because he really didn’t have all that good of a summer,” said Allen of his guard. “He was incredibly behind, but listened and improved. That’s the only thing a coach can ask of his players. Daniel is very receptive to what we tell him, and because of it, he’ll get better and better each time out there.”

The Huskies return to West Suburban (Silver) Conference action at home on Jan. 10 against Downers Grove North (7:30 p.m.).

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...