High school girls basketball: New Cary-Grove coach Tony Moretti finds 'right place'

Tony Moretti, a varsity girls basketball assistant at Crystal Lake South the past three seasons, had chances to be a head coach before, but none of them quite stood out like the job at Cary-Grove.

“At the end of the day, it was all about, ‘This is the right place, the right time,’” Moretti said. “It’s one of the winningest programs in the school’s history. For me, I just want the girls to have fun, enjoy playing basketball and keep that winning tradition alive.”

Moretti was hired as C-G’s girls coach this month and replaces Rod Saffert, who announced he was stepping down as head coach in May. Saffert’s teams were 248-135 over 13 seasons and won six Class 4A regional championships.

“I’m just hoping to continue that success here,” Moretti said. “Rod obviously did a great job here for a long number of years. Before Rod, Jim [Altendorf] did a great job here. I know the school, I know the area, and I know the community.

“For me, it was kind of a no-brainer to come over here.”

Moretti, who lives in Crystal Lake and teaches special education in Community High School District 155’s alternative Haber Oaks Campus, will stay on as an assistant coach for South’s softball team.

Moretti previously served as a boys varsity assistant at C-G. Before that, he worked as an assistant for Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famers Tom McCormack (Conant) and Joe Komaromy (Dundee-Crown).

“I’ve had some great teachers,” Moretti said. “I’ve taken little pieces of all the things that they do. I’m aggressive, I’m intense, but most of all I have fun coaching basketball. When you’re open, honest and show players you truly care, they will trust you have their best interest at heart no matter what.”

C-G graduated eight seniors and returns only three varsity players: junior Lauren Passaglia and sophomores Emily Lukowski and Lilliana Kurth. Lukowski was second on the team last season averaging 7.3 points a game.

Moretti has been with the players for a short time, but he’s excited by what he has seen so far.

“We’re going to be young, but we’ve got some talent,” Moretti said. “A lot of them are multisport athletes, and they work hard at every sport they play. The kids get after it every day, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Moretti hopes to bring even more success to C-G. The Trojans finished 12-17 last season but took fourth in the Fox Valley Conference at 9-7.

“We want to win the Fox Valley Conference,” Moretti said. “We’re out here to try and win games. We want to win the FVC. We want to win regionals, sectionals and take the program to that next level.”