Boys basketball in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division is highly respected, with well-prepared teams and several standout players. This year is no exception. The other annual given, particularly in recent years, is Oak Park and River Forest High School dominating the standings.

The two-time defending conference champs are conducting business as usual with a 7-1 record in the league. Currently, OPRF and York share first place in conference.

“I said to many people that it would take us until at least January to start to fully reach our potential,” coach Matt Maloney said. “We have shown great strides at Pontiac (Christmas tournament) and through this month. We are looking to hit our stride heading into the final leg of conference and into the state playoffs.”

Since their 6-4 start, the Huskies have hit their stride with seven wins in nine games. For all their firepower offensively, their trademark “Huskie Havoc” defensive style has put the team on a steadier winning track.

“Our defense has been impressive this month,” Maloney said. “We have held York to 31, Hinsdale Central to 40 and Glenbard West to 46 to name a few of our strong performances.”

Offensively, the Huskies are as balanced as they are talented. Anthony Roberts leads the team in points (14.5), rebounds (7) and is tied with Chase Robinson for most steals at 2.5 per game. Robinson also averages 13.5 points, 4 rebounds and 3.5 assists, while Charlie Hoehne provides 9 points and 6 boards per game. Promising sophomore Isaiah Barnes (7.5 points, 3 rebounds) is another notable player. Maloney expects fellow sophomore Justin Cross to provide a spark the rest of the season as well.

“We still have to find consistent shooting from beyond the arc,” Maloney said. “We can improve our shot selection at key moments in games as well, along with finishing at the free throw line.”

The Huskies host a pair of challenging games this weekend. Lyons Township visits on Friday, Feb. 1 (7:30 p.m. start) followed by Evanston on Saturday, Feb. 2 (6 p.m.).

“LT gave us our only conference loss earlier in the season,” Maloney said. “They have three of the top guards in the conference and have been playing well all season. We will need to neutralize their three-guard attack and make them count by twos and threes.

“Evanston has 20 wins and has many weapons, along with versatile pieces,” he added. “They play essentially five guards and really crank up the heat defensively and have four guys who shoot 3-pointers and all five can put it to the deck. This is an opportunity for us to see where we stand heading into March since we have the toughest sectional in the state once again.”

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...