Girls basketball: Hinsdale Central, after tumultuous week, takes the court with new coaching staff

Ryan Sasis hired as interim head coach after resignations of head coach, two staff members

Hinsdale Central's head coach Ryan Sasis encourages the team during basketball game between Hinsdale Central at York. Dec 8, 2023.

ELMHURST – Hinsdale Central interim girls basketball coach Ryan Sasis laughed at his mistake during halftime of Friday’s road game against York.

The Red Devils’ entire coaching staff and players were late for the start of the third quarter. After the whistle sounded to start the third quarter, the Red Devils were still in their locker room. A York employee went into the hallway locker room to inform Sasis and his players about their tardiness.

When Sasis jogged onto the court, one of the officials pulled him aside for a brief chat, causing both parties to smile and laugh about the unique situation.

“I had my timer off, from what they told, so that was my fault,” Sasis said, smiling. “We will figure everything out.”

It certainly has been a unique week for the Red Devils’ program.

The Red Devils, who dressed 10 players for Friday’s game, fell into an early 7-0 deficit and didn’t score until three minutes left in the first quarter. The Dukes pushed the pace and hit nine three-pointers to record a 61-38 victory in Elmhurst.

The basketball game was a nice reprieve following the recent off-the-court headlines that surrounded the Hinsdale Central program. The Red Devils (2-5, 0-2) host Lyons on Saturday at 5 p.m.

On Monday, Hinsdale Central girls basketball coach Erin Navolio and two members of her staff resigned, leading to the Red Devils forfeiting Tuesday’s game at Proviso West. The in-season resignation of three varsity coaches sent shockwaves throughout the Chicagoland basketball community. Navolio, a former basketball player at Hinsdale Central and Knox College, was in the midst of her second season running the varsity program.

Hinsdale Central's Greta Dani (24) defends a shot by York's Anna Filosa (2) during basketball game between Hinsdale Central at York. Dec 8, 2023.

Hinsdale Central athletic director Mike Jezioro was scheduled to take over the head coaching duties until a statement on Thursday revealed new details.

The West Suburban Conference Silver Division game was no different than any area basketball game, a stark contrast to the last few days of heavy television and newspaper coverage involving the Hinsdale Central girls basketball program.

After Friday’s game, Sasis did not divulge if any Hinsdale Central players had quit the team, stating “I don’t know. I saw 10 on the roster and we have 10 here.”

The top six players Navolio listed on a preseason email all played in Friday’s loss. Sasis praised his players for their energy and heart against a talented York team.

“We will have some growing pains, but the girls know it will be one day at a time,” Sasis said. “I’m happy to be here and happy to help out. We’re going to keep working and building.”

On Thursday night, Jezioro released a statement updating the status of the program.

“As you may know, three members of the coaching staff for our girls basketball team resigned from their position on Dec. 4. I want to them thank for their time and service. I also want to let you know that we have identified three experienced coaches who have agreed to lead the program on an interim basis for the reminder of the season, effective immediately.”

Jezioro’s statement noted that “Ryan Sasis will serve as the interim head coach for the varsity team.” He also stated that Brad Warble will serve as the interim assistant coach for the varsity team, while Gia Pellizzari will lead the junior varsity team.”

Hinsdale Central's head coach Ryan Sasis instructs the team during a timeout in their basketball game at York. Dec 8, 2023.

Sasis has coached at Kaneland and Marian Catholic, while also coaching an AAU team in the offseason. Warble’s background consists of playing basketball at Eastern Illinois and serving as the equipment manager at Hinsdale Central since 2018. Pellizzari, who currently on the Hinsdale Central girls lacrosse coaching staff, played basketball at North Central College.

Jezioro’s lengthy statement also shed some light on the rest of the season,noting “while the interim coaches have been in their respective roles, I will be attending upcoming practices and games to assist them and our student-athletes with the transition process. I will also be conducting a comprehensive search following the season with the goal of filling these three positions on a permanent basis.”

York basketball coach Brandon Collings said his players came out strong against the Red Devils. York junior guard Anna Filosa scored seven of her team-high 20 points in the first quarter to lead the team.

“We knew they were going to come with energy,” Collings said. “I knew we had to match their energy. I think we did in the first quarter. We had a great first quarter and fourth quarter.”

Bob Narang

Bob Narang is a contributing sports reporter to Shaw Local News Network