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Positives give Elmwood Park high hopes for next year

03/11/2014, 12:15pm CDT
By Rob Valentin | For Sun-Times Media | @chicagolandprep

Three Elmwood Park standout athletes could return bigger and stronger next season

Elmwood Park’s Tom Hap defends North Chicago’s Jamero Shelton

Elmwood Park’s Tom Hap defends North Chicago’s Jamero Shelton, who glides in for a layup. | Michael Schmidt/For Sun-Times Media

It’s not often that a team experiences a season highlight just one day before finding the low point.

Elmwood Park’s boys basketball season came to an end with a 102-39 loss to top-seeded North Chicago in the Class 3A Grayslake Central Regional semifinals on March 4.

When Tigers coach Tony Sylvester was looking for a bright spot for the Tigers (6-21), he pointed to the regional quarterfinals on March 3 when Elmwood Park defeated Kelvyn Park 72-64.

“Anytime you can win a game in March, it’s a big deal,” Sylvester said. “But obviously we want to get to the point where we’re winning regional semifinals, but we’ll take one win instead of going home right away.”

Elmwood Park will say farewell to four seniors as Presley Garrett, Eddie Amparan, Hassan Basbous and Joe Talia all are on track to graduate.

The biggest loss is Garrett, a guard who was a leader and scorer. He finished his high school career with more than 500 points and is eighth all-time in scoring for the Tigers.

Elmwood Park has a good core coming back. Joe Uvelli, Ian Nunez and Arturo Reyes got plenty of playing time and will be heavily depended upon next season.

“Joe Uvelli came back to basketball after sitting out as a sophomore,” Sylvester said. “Joe is a star pitcher on the baseball team and is committed to Purdue. Assuming he comes out and is ready to go, he’ll be leading the way next year. Ian Nunez and Arturo Reyes will be considered as captain material.”

Junior Tom Hap and sophomore Adrian Lach are players to keep an eye on.

The biggest thing Sylvester is looking for from his returning players is commitment. While he has several multi-sport athletes, he expects them to work on their basketball game and hit the weight room.

The players look like they’re ready to step up to the challenge.

“I’m definitely getting a gym membership,” Reyes said. “My goal is to gain eight to 10 pounds. I’ll be working on my game as much as I can. I’m already anxious to play.”

“I definitely will go to open gyms and workout,” said Nunez, who is an outfielder for the baseball team. “Me and Joe will go out on Sundays and play basketball. The summer will be really important. We played 40 games last summer and every game you get better and learn more.”

The Tigers struggled on defense this season and allowed 60 points or more in 18 games. Reyes and Nunez expect next year’s team to become more stingy and that should lead to more wins.

“We gave up a lot of points,” Reyes said. “If we could step it up more defensively we can contend for a conference championship.”

 “I definitely think we’ll win more games than this year,” Nunez added. “Me, Arturo and Joe all really want to win. We’re playing together more and knowing how each other plays will help.”

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