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St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore makes a point during a timeout Friday at Providence Catholic. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Despite the fact that West Aurora junior Jontrel Walker and St. Joseph sophomore Glynn Watson have never seen each other play, but they have quite a bit in common.
Both have brothers that starred at their schools before. Walker’s older brother Johnny was on West’s 2006 team that reached the state tournament. Watson’s brother is famed former Charger Demetri McCamey, who went on to star at Illinois.
And each of them are playing for legendary Hall of Fame coaches. Both of them learned quickly, both through talking to their brothers and playing for their coaches, that they are better seen rather than heard, as well.
“(McCamey) just told me to listen,” Watson said of playing for St. Joseph’s Gene Pingatore. “You’re never going to be right, so you have to listen.”
Walker said essentially the same thing about playing for West’s Gordie Kerkman. The two guards are the top matchup in Saturday’s 16th annual National Guard High School Hoops Showdown at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates Saturday at 8:30 p.m., the last game of a tripleheader that evening.
Watson is looking forward to going against his new opponent on the big stage Saturday night.
“I like playing against great guards just to make me better,” Watson said. “I’ve never seen him play before, but I like playing guards like him.”
Walker couldn’t lean on his brother Johnny for advice on playing at the Sears Centre, as he never had the opportunity to play in that arena. He did note that his brother has something over him, at least for the time being.
“He’s never been to the Sears Centre before, but he has played downstate though, so he’s got that on me,” Walker said. “He tells me to go out there and play my game.”
St. Joseph has suffered through injuries for much of the season, leaving the Chargers with an 11-9 record after going 2-4 in their last six games. Watson has solidified the guard spot with the help of towering interior players A.J. Patty and Karriem Simmons, who figure to keep West center Josh McAuley occupied down low Saturday, as the injuries have cycled through the team.
“When you put teams together, you’re looking for chemistry,” Pingatore said. “It just hasn’t happened yet. It’s happened at times; it’s just not consistent. We’re hoping to make a run by the end of the year, that was my thought. We’re going to get better, there’s no question.”
West rebounded from its loss to Glenbard East with a blowout win over rival East Aurora last week, and that was the start of a brutal stretch of games. The Blackhawks face Wheaton Warrenville South Friday and Glenbard North next Friday in DuPage Valley Conference play. In the meantime, they get St. Joseph in this game and play the two teams involved in Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. game, Naperville Central and Benet, next week as well.
“We hope we can run the table, but it’s going to be pretty tough,” Kerkman said.