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St. Edward senior Antonio Domel puts up a shot earlier this season. Domel and the Green Wave play Aurora Christian on Wednesday in the Class 2A Westmont Regional semifinals. | Erik Anderson~For Sun-Times Media
St. Edward’s boys basketball program has a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to regardless of what transpires this week at the Class 2A Westmont Regional.
The Green Wave enters the postseason with a 20-7 record, which marks its highest win total since 1998. Making the breakthrough season even more impressive is the fact it was put together by a young team with only two seniors on the roster.
While the future certainly looks bright, St. Edward is squarely focused on the present. Plenty of tough challenges stand in the second-seeded Green Wave’s way at Westmont, including Wednesday night’s regional semifinal contest against No. 3 Aurora Christian, but advancing to next week’s Byron Sectional seems like the perfect way to punctuate the season.
“This has already been a special year, but we could really go out with a bang if we take down some good teams and get to the sectional,” St. Edward senior Antonio Domel said.
Added St. Edward coach P.J. White: “What the guys have done this year, I’m very proud of them regardless of the outcome. But if I could be selfish, I’d like to have the icing on the cake.”
The Green Wave likely won’t have to worry about playing an unfamiliar opponent in the regional.
St. Edward squared off with Aurora Christian (17-11) twice during the regular season, winning the first matchup 59-54 on Nov. 30 but losing badly in the rematch Feb. 9 when the host Eagles handed the Green Wave an 83-44 defeat.
The victor advances to play the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal between top seed Immaculate Conception (21-5) and No. 5 Lisle. St. Edward didn’t play Lisle in the regular season, but it did play Immaculate Conception four times, losing the past three matchups.
“We’re not really looking at the scores of the games we played against (Aurora Christian and Immaculate Conception), but more at what happened and what offenses and defenses were played in those games and how we responded to them,” Domel said.
St. Edward is charged with cooling off an Aurora Christian team that has won five straight and scored 80 or more points in three of its past four games, including an 80-44 win against Somonauk on Monday in the regional quarterfinals.
If the Green Wave hopes to advance, it will need to employ the all-hands-on-deck mentality that has served it so well this season. St. Edward has six players averaging at least 6.5 points, led by sophomore forward Nick Duffy’s 10.6 points per game.
Juniors Davontae Elam and John Butzow and sophomore Danny Favela are three other key members of the Green Wave’s young nucleus, and more talent appears to be on the way after St. Edward’s sophomore and freshman teams enjoyed solid showings this season.
For all the promise in the lower classes, Domel and fellow senior Adrian Ponce deserve their share of the credit for getting the Green Wave on track after 10 straight losing seasons. Ponce averages 10.4 points and a team-best 6.0 rebounds while Domel is a steady floor leader at point guard who averages 9.9 points, 4.9 assists and 2.5 steals.
“Someone once told me the best thing to do is to leave (the program) better than you found it,” Domel said.
“Adrian and I think we really did that. We kind of set the tone for the next few years, and we’re hoping St. Eds can become something of a dynasty.”