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Highland Park trying to time its jump

02/05/2013, 7:17pm CST
By Kate Hedlin

Win or lose, Highland Park’s boys basketball team has kept its momentum moving forward this year.

Highland Park's Luke Norica scores on Glenbrook North on Friday, February 1, 2013 in Northbrook. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media

Highland Park’s boys basketball team had little time to lament a disappointing loss to Glenbrook North Friday.

It’s a theme for this year’s team: Keep moving forward.

The following day, the Giants were on the road for a trip to Milwaukee’s Bradley Center, where they defeated Libertyville 42-38. While the game was the priority, the experience of playing in an NBA arena was a bonus that provided an emotional lift for the team. Players got to visit the Milwaukee Bucks’ locker room before taking the court themselves.

“It was awesome,” senior Sam Iden said. “Especially coming in the last month as the seniors are ending our careers here. It’s good timing.”

Timing certainly wasn’t in Highland Park’s favor earlier this season. However, following a 2-7 start, the Giants improved to 11-12 after splitting their two games over the weekend.

While still below .500, they feel they are peaking at the right time.

“Coach (Paul Harris) always says it’s important to be playing your best at the end of the season,” Iden said. “We’ve been working hard to get better, and if we keep doing it, I think we’ll do that — playing our best when we need to.”

Harris said he thinks the improved play over the last few weeks is due in part to the seniors stepping up with their high school careers nearing a finish. He pointed to Iden as someone who has taken on a more vocal role.

“We’re a young team, and we had a tough schedule, but we’ve been improving every day and I think the seniors are starting to understand the end is coming,” Harris said. “Sam Iden in particular has been coming along recently. He’s doing a bit of everything right now and that versatility is really important.”

Leadership from the seniors has been especially vital to a team that began the season without any returning starters. It has also helped the development of some key younger players, including sophomore David Sachs.

“It’s really important for all of us to just stay focused and keep improving,” Sachs said. “The seniors expect the younger guys to step up. No one sees an age difference on the team, even if there is. Expectations are high on everyone.”

While this year‘s senior class tries to go out on a high note, attention is also being paid to some of the up-and-coming stars. Harris and Sachs, who scored 15 points each in the loss to Glenbrook North, said they aren’t thinking about next year. But Iden had no problem looking down the road.

“The future is really bright with this program,” Iden said. “The juniors have responded to Coach challenging them to pick up their level and we’ve got a lot of talented sophomores. David played unbelievable this weekend. Luke (Norcia) and Jordan (Krawitz) — it’s been fun to see their development.” ~.

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