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River Grove, 02/19/13--Guerin Prep's Joe Binkowski brings the ball upcourt against Douglass' William Heard. Guerin Prep hosted Douglass High School in a boys basketball 2A regional game Tuesday evening. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Guerin junior Joe Binkowski wasted little time setting his sights on the 2013-14 basketball campaign after the Gators’ season-ending loss to Walther Lutheran last week.
“Next year began the day after this season ended for me,” said Binkowski, “I’ve already started getting ready. I’ll be hitting the weight room and working on my shot and other individual things until practice starts up again. I think the effort we showed in the playoffs was a preview of what you are going to see next year from Guerin.”
Though Guerin finished the 2012-13 campaign with a 10-15 record, the junior-heavy squad showed its maturation during the Class 2A regionals when the No. 4-seeded Gators came from behind to beat No. 5 Douglass 68-63 in the quarterfinals. They then put a scare into No. 1 seed Walther Lutheran in the semis, falling 64-60 after trailing by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Binkowski and junior teammate Dan Siman came off the bench and their impact was immediately felt on the court. Binkowski scored 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds against Douglass. Siman stepped in and compiled 13 points and five boards in the loss to Walther Lutheran, collecting nine points in the final period to help avert a blowout.
Siman, who is preparing for the upcoming baseball season, says things finally began to jell for the young squad after a frustrating start where it struggled through the first month without a win.
“I think we showed how good we could be by the end of the year,” Siman said. “We lost a lot early and we could have just hung our heads and given up, but we practiced hard and started to come together as a team. We realized that even when we were down we could come back and make a game of it any time if we just continued to play like we knew we could.”
Binkowski said both he and Siman always bring their “A” game, whether it’s practice or a playoff showdown.
“Dan brings a lot of enthusiasm and clutch rebounding to this team,” Binkowski said. “He is really solid underneath and I think he can only continue to improve. We really have a great group of juniors coming back in the Marra brothers (twins Anthony and Michael), Gavin Byrne, Dan Chirello and others. Not one of these guys is selfish and tries to do all the scoring themselves. We all like to spread things around, and it makes for some good chemistry on this team.”
Both players agree on one thing — a regional title next season would be sweet.
“I see us winning a lot more,” Siman said. “If we work hard in practice and stay focused early, I think our confidence will continue to grow and we should have a shot at a regional title and more. Who knows?”
“If we come together as a team like I think we will, a regional title and maybe more is not a big stretch for this team next year,” Binkowski said.
Guerin head coach Marcus Green said his players aren’t the only ones excited about next year’s prospects.
“Dan and Joe really have good chemistry on the court together and they like to own the glass,” Green said. “Joe can jump out of the gym with anyone, and Dan is real strong underneath and continues to get better. They both know how to play good defense, rebound and score. They try to own the boards and they gave us a big inside presence. I think those two will be a couple of the leaders for this team, and I’m anxious already to get things started.”~.