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They don’t get their names announced at the beginning of games or take big shots at the end of them, but somewhere in the middle Austin Madrzyk and Vinnie Tuzil have found themselves a home.
The Barrington bench players spend most of their time in places where stars rarely visit. They live on the floor where bumps and bruises are frequent, in the trenches where hustle and toughness are more important than flash and style. In their world, points and highlights don’t count for much. Winning is what pays the bills.
“We just try to bring that energy,” Tuzil said. “We do whatever we can to help out the team. Setting screens, passing the ball, whatever we can.”
Most games, the Broncos bench only goes three players deep. There’s Madrzyk, a junior guard and the team’s resident genius; Tuzil, a scrappy senior forward who likes to rough up opposing team’s best scorers. Rounding out the trio is lanky junior forward West McDonald.
Due to the lack of depth, it’s important for coach Bryan Tucker to have quality over quantity in his reserves. Luckily, Madrzyk and Tuzil are uncharacteristically talented for the pine-riding designation that they carry.
“Coach is always telling us that me and Vinnie are basically the sixth and seventh starters,” Madrzyk said. “And that’s how everyone feels. When we’re out there, it’s like the same if the starters were out there.”
In their road loss to rival Palatine on February 8, both Madrzyk and Tuzil logged heavy minutes. Madrzyk scored five points and was a key factor in Barrington’s first half lead, while Tuzil, a self-proclaimed “terrible shooter”, had seven points including a three-pointer in the final few minutes.
“Those are two kids we put on the floor, and West as well, that we think each bring a unique dimension,” Tucker said. “Austin is one of our best perimeter shooters and is good at reading plays. Vinnie plays the post and is physical, but we think he’s a pretty good shooter as well.”
Some teams might struggle with chemistry when two non-starters are playing such vital roles and are constantly replacing the first-team guys in the heart of close games. But Madrzyk was adamant that this particular team is as close to a family as possible without actually being blood related.
The players, both starters and reserves, coexist for the greater good of the team. And even though it will most likely be senior forward Zach Bart dominating the post in the first quarter and senior point guard Brad Zaumseil hitting the game-winners are the end, Madrzyk and Tuzil will continue to play their part.
“We go in there and try to make them better, and then we get our chance and they’re trying to make us better,” Madrzyk said. “We’re just all trying to push as hard as we can so come Friday night we’re ready.