Big Wins in 2010 Suggest More to Come in 2011
Highland Park High School's basketball, boys swim teams show potential for memorable seasons.
As someone who has witnessed many a girls basketball game from the stands of Highland Park High School, I will bring it up one last time. There were plenty of teams in the past that did not win very often.
And that's putting it mildly.
That's why it is refreshing to see the emergence of the Lady Giants as a formidable opponent. I remember hearing whispers that some young girl was headed to Highland Park to help turn the fortunes around. Well, she's arrived, and her name is Lena Munzer. When she burst upon the scene a year ago as a freshman, she soon found a solid foundation in place.
As 2011 begins, it's not too late to put down some New Year's resolutions for the girls and boys basketball teams and the school's swim team.
When we last left off, coach Jolie Bechtel's Giants were headed to Florida to play in an eight-team basketball tournament near Disney World. And, as all Disney vacations should, this one had a happy ending. HP won all three games and headed out to celebrate at Magic Kingdom after winning a title.
Is that a huge surprise? Not really. The Giants are an exciting girls basketball team to watch. They have the quickness of Emily Feldman and Briana Collier. They have defensive whiz Lauren Evans. Morgan Bartelstein and Ariel Swartz bring even more to the program.
What could this team possibly want in the new year? How about a little run in the IHSA regional? The Giants won a conference crown a year ago, but fell to Barrington in the Waukegan regional.
Let's see this team make it to sectional play this year. This time around, the Giants most likely will head to neighboring Deerfield for regional play. We are dealing with IHSA, so anything can happen, but that's the most likely scenario.
Will the Giants reach the Mundelein sectional come late February? There are some good teams in the sectional, including unbeaten Libertyville (15-0), Hersey, Barrington, Stevenson and Fremd. But with a year's experience behind them, I'm thinking the Giants can get there this time around. Once there, anything can happen.
How about a quick get well-card for some of these Giants players?
Coach Paul Harris' club is just a game under the .500 mark – a good place to start 2011. And when you lose a few players to illness and injury, that allows others to play. The deeper bench will give Harris flexibility come playoff time. After winning the last two games of the Elgin tournament, the Giants return to action Friday at rival Deerfield.
It seems this team is built on speed and that's a good place to start. Keep an eye on the progress of sprinters Jake Zuckerman, Reeven Nathan and David Kane.
Before the break, the Giants gave the Glenbrook South Titans a tough swim. Although they lost, Nathan won the 100-yard freestyle and placed a strong second in 200 free. This senior also joined Jacob Humerick, Zach Weiner and Artem Ognev in the victorious 200 medley team.
In more good news, Ognev and Zuckerman went 1-2 in the 50 free. And Weiner breezed to a win in the breaststroke.
These are some good tidings for lowering times come the CSL meet in February and into the sectional. Let's see if the success continues in the games and meets of January and February.
Regardless, seeing these three teams perform should be well worth the price of admission.