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Elmwood Park, 01/09/13 Elmwood Park's Elliott Perez shoots in between Guerin Prep's Joe Binkowski (15) and Michael Marra in Elmwood Park January 9, 2013. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Beginning at the end of his junior season, Elmwood Park’s Elliott Perez has transformed himself into one of the top players for the Tigers.
The senior forward has gone from a part-time starter on last year’s squad to the leading scorer and rebounder for Elmwood Park this season.
His skills were on full display Friday night when he scored 19 points and grabbed 10 boards during a 69-51 Metro Suburban loss to Ridgewood in Norridge.
“Elliott is our best leader by example, he does everything right,” said Tigers coach Mike Wasielewski. “He came to all the offseason stuff, all four years. So, he has put the time in and all the time he put in paid off and made him the player he is today.
“So I am really proud of how he worked over his career to put himself in that position and it has paid off.”
Elliott put in hours of work at both shooting and rebounding, but feels that it was much harder to improve his game under the boards.
“For me, it would probably be working on rebounding now, because I do have the height, but I do not have a lot of the weight,” said Perez. “At 155 or 160 pounds, it is hard getting banged around with the big boys in there at 215 pounds. At 6-1, I sometimes have the height on them, but it is hard.”
Wasielewski agrees that the Tigers (6-13, 1-8), whose roster lists just nine players, depend on Perez for many things. He also provides insight on why the senior’s rebounding has improved.
“It helps that he grew three inches this (past) summer,” said Wasielewski. “He is huge for us on defense, rebounding. Obviously we need him to score to stay in the games.”
Senior forward Pat McNulty noticed that Perez’s game has come a long way since he was younger.
“Over the past couple of years, he was sometimes timid and scared,” said McNulty. “But this year, he is aggressive and he is ready to score all the time, and he is helping us out a lot.”
Perez hopes to continue basketball next year. He is considering the University of Chicago and was going to check out the Beloit College campus and watch the Buccaneers play Grinnell College last Saturday.
He scored a 29 on the ACT and is taking three advanced placement classes.
“It is tough to juggle them all, but it is basketball and I love the game,” said Perez. “I would love to play next year. I love to play basketball, it is a passion of mine.”