DOWNERS GROVE – Brendan Savage finally got to play in a basketball game Dec. 1.
The Hinsdale South senior forward has been embroiled in a scandal that brought national attention to his plight after his mother, Erin Savage, sued the school district and numerous employees when her son was cut from the team.
On Nov. 28, Erin Savage heard the good news from a Hinsdale Township School District lawyer that Brendan officially was on the basketball team. Erin Savage filed a motion Nov. 27 asking for a preliminary injunction to force the school to put her son on the basketball team.
The lawsuit hasn’t been dropped, Erin Savage said after the Dec. 1 game.
“It’s late Friday night, so I haven’t called anyone yet,” Savage said. “We’re just going to see how things go. We’ll continue to communicate with our lawyers and take it from there.”
Brendan Savage, a two-time all-conference selection, was slated to be one of the main returnees after averaging 11.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists last season. He sat out the first five games of the season, including a Nov. 28 home victory despite being reinstated to the team.
The 6-foot-3 Savage maintained a low profile throughout the 81-56 blowout loss Dec. 1 at Downers Grove South. Even with an early arriving and large Downers Grove South student turnout, Savage wasn’t bothered by the smattering of boos when he entered the game for the first time in his senior year at the 3:04 mark of the first quarter. He attempted two shots, finishing with two points and two rebounds in 15 minutes and 33 seconds of action. His lone basket came on a breakaway lay-up with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
Besides the Downers Grove South students chanting “mama’s boy” for a few seconds when he checked into the game for the second time in the second quarter, Savage was just a regular high school opponent to most of the crowd.
Savage and Hinsdale South coach Mike Belcaster were not available to the media after the game, a Hinsdale South spokesperson said.
Sitting with a group of almost 10 people, all wearing “We want Savage” black T-shirts, Erin Savage said she was happy to see her son return to the court.
“I was just happy to see him get in,” Erin Savage said. “It would’ve been nice if we could’ve been more competitive in the game, but I’m sure he’s excited when he got in and will be ready to get back to the drawing board and build their team up and be prepared for the next game.”
Erin Savage said she wasn’t worried about any backlash from the Downers Grove South fans.
“I just asked Brendan if he was nervous and he said no, so I wasn’t nervous at all,” Erin Savage said. “He just wanted to play, so I was like he’s relaxed, so I’m going to be relaxed.”
The complaint alleges that former Hinsdale South coach Michael Moretti had bullied and humiliated Brendan, which led to an investigation by district officials. The outcome of the investigation proved insufficient evidence to support the bullying accusations. Moretti was replaced by Belcaster, a “close personal friend” of the former coach, the suit states.
The complaint also states Brendan “was considered a standout player on the varsity team” but was not picked for the varsity team in early November.
Downers Grove South coach Zach Miller said his players showed a lot of class handling the controversy and attention on the Savage affair. The Mustangs (5-1) had five players score in double figures, led by 20 points from senior guard Richard Gasman.
“I’m super proud,” he said. “We all knew about (Savage) and it was pretty hard to avoid. We addressed it, knew it and I said since the beginning of the year that we have an experienced group. We leaned on our older guys. We had a collective effort. This is a rivalry game. We wanted to have fun but do it the right way. I think they enjoyed it. We didn’t get distracted and our eyes were on doing our job.
“We told our guys that there would be a lot of media tonight and this was going to get a lot of coverage tonight, so this was an opportunity for us to do things and take advantage of it.”