Never mind the fact St. Francis was going to field an entirely new team from last season’s sectional champion.
Spartans’ coach Erin Dwyer believes in arranging as tough of a schedule as possible. St. Francis’ first two games were against Metea Valley and Downers Grove North, just the start of showing his group the reality of a harsh varsity schedule.
Add in appearances at the York-hosted Jack Tosh Holiday Classic and a quick turnaround against DePaul Prep, and the Spartans were pretty battle tested heading into 2023 as primarily freshman and sophomores played big minutes with a handful of juniors and seniors involved.
“You can tell kids until they’re blue in the face what it’s like to play in varsity games,” Dwyer said. “But until they actually experience it, sometimes, they have to go through that. I just don’t think there’s any way of comparing what you do in June to what you do in-season.”
To date, the Spartans are 11-13 and 5-2 in the Metro Suburban Conference.
“You may not be playing a travel basketball player [every time], but you’re still playing an 18-year-old who has five games of his high school career left and he’s going to play as hard as he possibly can. But, I’m happy with where our growth is going. We’ve played well. We’ve had a couple near misses where we played comeback. “We gave one away there against IC Catholic [Jan. 6] at the end there. We played Glenbard North straight-up [Jan. 16], we lost that in the final seconds, but I like the way the kids are responding. They’re coachable every day. They’re learning the difference details, not details and how big of a difference it plays for them.”
Juniors Dylan Ston and Aaron Cook have been strong for the Spartans as of late.
“Ston has really stepped up in a lot of ways,” Dwyer said. “Cook does a nice job of kind of doing everything offensively, defensively, assisting-wise, scoring points. Gavin Mueller, he’s the 6-foot-5, 220-pound freshman, he doesn’t look like a freshman. He’s done a real nice job for us. Those are the three guys that have really stepped up for us in the last three weeks.”
Lawrence, Diamond continue to showcase connection for Geneva
Mick Lawrence and Tommy Diamond connected on the same pass and score sequence three consecutive times in the Vikings’ 59-50 victory over St. Charles East on Tuesday.
Lawrence would push the pace coast-to-coast before feeding a leading Diamond in the paint for layups each time. Some of them were no-look dump passes.
“Every day, [the chemistry] is getting more and more. We’re just on the same level,” Lawrence said. “We’re talking every day. We’re in class every day so it’s just continuing to grow. It’s continuing to get better and better.”
Diamond attributes the chemistry to their friendship beyond the court.
“It’s more than basketball,” Diamond said. “We’re best friends. I love being around Mick. He’s the funniest guy I know and I think that’s what it is. We’re just friends and we got that connection.”
Call emerging for St. Charles East
It may have taken a half for Steven Call to start hitting shots for St. Charles East, but once he did, he became a formidable offensive force on Tuesday.
Call, the Saints guard, scored all 11 points in the second half of their loss to Geneva. Call had eight points in the third quarter alone.
“He’s one of our leaders,” coach Pat Woods said. “He wants to play basketball in college. He’s very capable of it. He shows spurts of being very good.”