OPRF’s Jaziah Harper drives the baseline against a Hinsdale Central defender during the Huskies’ 79-75 loss on Dec. 16 in Oak Park. | Alex Rogals/Staff Photographer

Oak Park and River Forest High School boys basketball coach Phil Gary knew there would be some early growing pains this season given the young and mostly inexperienced roster he has.

But that doesn’t make losing games, especially in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division, any easier. Against visiting Hinsdale Central on Dec. 16, the Huskies fought back from a large deficit but ultimately fell 79-75.

“We’re still waiting to play four good quarters of basketball,” Gary said. 

OPRF (3-6, 0-1) jumped out to an 18-12 lead, but Hinsdale Central (8-2, 2-1) closed the first quarter on a 7-0 run to take the lead. 

The Red Devils led 36-31 at halftime, then seemed poised to break things open as they went on an 8-0 spurt to take a 48-36 lead with 4:27 left in the third quarter.

With OPRF big men Rodney Murphy and Alex Vincent in foul trouble, Hinsdale Central took advantage inside for several baskets.

“[The foul trouble] threw a wrinkle into our defense,” Gary said. “It affected the packages we like to do. But we’ve still got to be able to guard people.”

Hinsdale Central maintained a 12-point lead for most of the final quarter, but OPRF made a surge in the final three minutes. However, the Huskies could draw no closer than the final score.

Ben Oosterbaan scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half for the Red Devils, who had all five starters in double figures. Chase Collignon had 14 points, Emerson Eck and Patrick Graham 12 points each and Evan Phillips 10.

Mehki Austin led OPRF with 17 points. The Huskies had three other players in double figures: Justin Bowen and Max Johnson with 13 points apiece and Murphy 12.

“Honestly, our offense isn’t the problem,” Gary said. “It’s being able to get timely stops on defense.”

On Dec. 17, OPRF lost 57-47 at Lake Forest. Bowen and Vincent each had 11 points and Johnson 10 points for the Huskies in defeat.

OPRF is off this week due to final exams. The Huskies’ next game comes during the Pontiac Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28 against Benet Academy.

Things won’t get any easier at Pontiac, which is loaded with several top programs such as Benet, Joliet West and Simeon.

“We just need to get a win soon,” Gary said.

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