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Shaquon Alexander, of Hales, makes a move against St. Rita at Hales Franciscan, Friday, December 23rd, 2011 in Chicago, IL. l Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Shaquon Alexander is both mystery man and a basketball player on the make.
First, the bad news. The Hales’ roster has erroneously listed him as a sophomore. In fact, he’s a senior on the verge of ending his too brief career for the Spartans.
Alexander had to wait to showcase his game after he had to sit out his sophomore season during Hales’ Class 2A state championship team two years ago after he transferred from Ag. Science.
“Sitting out a whole year definitely set him back,” Hales coach Gary London said.
Alexander has made up for the lost time. After Hales stuggled to maintain its lofty status as a state power last year, Alexander has engineered a comeback.
On Friday in the host Spartans 2A Regional final, Alexander made a stunning double-clutch three-pointer in the closing seconds that forced overtime as Hales defeated TEAM Englewood 69-65.
Alexander scored 27 points in the victory. He also recorded a near triple-double by scoring 10 points and adding 18 rebounds and nine assists in a regional semifinal victory over Dyett on Feb. 20. For his accomplishments, Alexander is the Chicago Sun-Times Athlete of the Week.
“I didn’t think the shot was going in,” Alexander said of his late three-pointer. “The defender kind of grabbed my arm, that’s why I had to double-clutch the shot, but I followed through and it went in. It was probably the biggest shot of my career.”
Alexander leads the Spartans (17-12) into the Illiana Christian sectional semifinals against Catholic League rival Seton on Wednesday.
“I try to have the same attitude every game, and that’s approach every game as if it’s my last,” he said. “I try not to take any plays off, knowing this ciould be your last game on the court. Just believe in myself, keep the trust going and don’t get selfish.”
Alexander has come of age and assumed the spotlight by avering 20 points and seven rebounds for the Spartans. He fits into a dominant pattern the Spartans have enjoyed of turningo out top-notch guards.
“It’s an honor to be in the Hales program, to be in the caliber of players who’ve played here,” he said.
“This is not to bad mouth other programs, but Hales really develops players,” he said. “I watched Patrick Miller, and the Armstead brothers and I also looked at video of Jerome Randle, and I’ve tried to take something from all of their games and combine it into the best.”
The 6-2 combo guard has the size and physical qualities to overpower smaller guards and has the quickness and athleticism to blow past bigger guards and small forwards.
“When he came into the program, we envisioned him being that combo guard and he’s shown the ability to playing both of those positions,” London said.
“He definitely has the work ethic, a good understanding of the game. He has a really good basketball IQ who understands the nuances of the game. He’s smart on and off the court, and it carries over to basketball.”
Alexander’s developing maturity and growing confidence have paid huge dividends, especially in the second half as Hales has developed a deepening confidence. Alexander is just one of two seniors in the team’s rotation.
“I think I’ve had a good season just by staying positive, on and off the court,” he said. “The other difference is, as a team, we started to trust each other. It’s weird to explain but we had adversity early in the season and we got our chemistry down, we formed a bond and we look at each other like brothers.”
His heroics meant the Spartans were alive for another round of the state tournament. “That was a great feeling hitting the shot, but I don’t feel satisfied because I know we can do so much more,” Alexander said.