Cary-Grove boys basketball coach Adam McCloud hardly could believe his good fortune last summer.
The Trojans coach learned that Marian Central graduate Adam Pischke was looking for a different career path, going from working in business to teaching business.
McCloud hastily reached out to Pischke to get him to come to C-G. Pischke, a standout player at NCAA Division II Lewis University, is student teaching at C-G this year and working as an assistant on McCloud’s staff.
Pischke assists junior varsity coach Jason Nawracaj, then usually joins McCloud’s staff on the bench for varsity games.
“Someone mentioned to me that Adam was looking to get into education after Lewis,” McCloud said. “As soon as I heard that, I was like, ‘I have to get him to Cary and get him on the staff.’
“Hopefully we can find a spot him as a teacher and, if not, at least retain him on the basketball staff. He’s a guy who obviously has so much knowledge of the game from playing it at such a high level. From a skills standpoint, I look forward to keeping him and have him grow into a bigger role.”
Pishcke was the 2016 Northwest Herald Player of the Year and is Marian’s career scoring leader with 1,775 points, which also is No. 8 on the all-time area scoring list.
At Lewis, he started 96 games in his career and finished 39th on the Flyers’ career scoring list with 1,042 points. His senior season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, after which time he began working at an inside sales position for a plumbing distributor.
Pischke grew up in Cary, but in an area within Dundee-Crown’s boundaries. He was good friends growing up with Jimmy Clarke, whose brother Mike is a senior guard for the Trojans.
Pischke took classes for eight weeks during the summer through Eastern Illinois University for a post-teaching degree. He is certified, but must student teach for the school year.
“I always thought about doing education, but I didn’t have time with playing basketball,” Pischke said. “It’s a great opportunity. I get to teach and coach at a really good school. Coaching with coach McCloud has been awesome.
“Being back around basketball and being able to coach with a great coach and a good program is a great opportunity. I’m really thankful to be doing it. A year ago I was working in plumbing and I couldn’t say the same. I’m glad I made the switch.”
It also completes an interesting circle with C-G graduate Beau Frericks, the 2020 Northwest Herald Player of the Year. Frericks followed Pischke to Lewis, where he now starts at guard. Pischke knew Frericks, but missed being teammates by one season.
Pischke worked out with basketball skills instructor Zac Boster, who also trained Frericks.
McCloud enjoys having a young set of eyes to break things down and offer a player’s perspective, particularly with his guards.
“I’m trying to bring a different aspect of the fine skills to it,” Pischke said. “Working with Zac Boster and Steve Preston and all those guys, it’s a different level of how you look at the game and how you try to master each detail. I’m just trying to watch our guys and try and implement some of those things into their games.
“After playing college basketball you definitely see the game a different way. I thought I knew basketball when I was in high school and I got to college and it was looked at in a much different way. It’s definitely cool to come back to high school basketball and see it now.”
Rolling Raiders: Huntley let its 60-52 loss to Burlington Central back on Dec. 17 serve its proper purpose. The Red Raiders played the defending Fox Valley Conference champion Rockets tough, even without guard Aiden Wieczorek, who was recovering from the flu.
Huntley has not lost since and appears to be playing its best basketball. The Raiders won DeKalb’s Chuck Dayton Holiday Tournament, then handled McHenry and Crystal Lake South in FVC games last week, running its winning streak to six.
“DeKalb was huge for us,” Raiders guard Nate Ary said. “Coming off the Burlington loss we were hungry and we needed to get back on the court. We went to DeKalb and took care of business. We were on such a high and we have been building off of that.”
The Raiders have allowed more than 46 points only once in their recent streak, Friday’s 68-59 win over South. Only Burlington Central, with eight consecutive wins, has a current longer streak.
“That Burlington game hurt,” forward Adam Guazzo said. “We definitely stepped it up and bounced back, which has been good.”
Cleaning up: The area’s two leading rebounders are Dundee-Crown’s Kennon Cook (11.0 per game) and Guazzo (8.2). While neither is that tall – Cook is 6-foot-3, while Guazzo is 6-2 – both are relentless.
Cook missed three games at the DeKalb tournament because of a COVID-19 quarantine, as did guard Gabe Rivera. Both helped the Chargers (10-4, 5-2 FVC) get conference wins last week over Prairie Ridge and Jacobs.
Guazzo ripped down 12 rebounds in Friday’s win at South.
“Guazzo’s an animal,” Huntley coach Will Benson said.
Welcome back: Jacobs finally got all its players back last week when 6-6 Grant Stec rejoined the team. Stec had not played after having his tonsils removed, but played all three games last week.
The Golden Eagles got guard Nick McCoy, their top returning player, back for the last two games of their own Hinkle Holiday Classic over the break. McCoy was recovering from a broken left pinkie finger.
Now, they have their tallest player back as well.
“It feels great to be back with such a great team, but we just need to find our chemistry and get things rolling so we can start winning some games,” Stec said.
Stec, who weighs 220 pounds, is an NCAA Division I football prospect at tight end. He has offers from Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Penn State, Louisville and Arkansas.
Heating up: Richmond-Burton (7-8, 1-0 Kishwaukee River Conference) has the third-longest current winning streak in the area at four games. The Rockets have scored almost 10 points more than their season average (45.4) in each of those victories.