Boys basketball off to strong start

The OPRF boys basketball team kicked off their season over Thanksgiving break, participating in the annual Riverside-Brookfield Invite.

The Huskies finished fourth in the tournament, splitting their four games with a record of 2-2.

The Huskies faced off against University High Nov. 23 in their season opener. They got off to a great start, leading by 13 points at half but had to stave off a fierce comeback from U-High. The Huskies trailed by as much as eight points in the final minutes of the game, but hustle plays from junior Christian Marshall and senior Justin Mullins helped the Huskies retake the lead and hold on to win.

“Coming back to get the win was a huge confidence booster for us,” said Marshall. “We were complacent, we got lazy. But the bench always kept the energy up for us, and we never got down on ourselves which really shows the character of this team.”

The Huskies were victorious in game two against Thornwood, winning 72-63. Sam Lewis, a key player for the Huskies, was sidelined for the game with a sprained ankle suffered late in the game against U-High, but an incredible performance by University of Denver Commit Justin Mullins carried the team to victory. Mullins showed his star power, dropping 38 points and nine rebounds.

On Nov. 26, the Huskies took on host Riverside-Brookfield in a tightly fought matchup. The Huskies fell short, losing 73-66. Marshall got in a groove during the second half and dropped 21 points, leading the team.

In the third place game, the Huskies took on Brother Rice, ranked as one of the top 15 teams in the state. Brother Rice was able to outlast the Huskies and won 87-80 in overtime.

“It was definitely beneficial to play in that tournament,” said senior John Vincent. “We got a good chance to show that we were able to stay competitive with other top 25 teams. We learned valuable lessons from those losses that will help us going forward.”

The Huskies then shifted their focus to their big rivalry game on Dec. 3 against the Fenwick Friars. The game did not disappoint.

The Huskies got off to a slow start, failing to score through the first 4 minutes of the game, and trailing 4-0.

“Our guys were super excited for this game because it’s obviously a huge rivalry game for us. Their adrenaline and energy was like 100 times (more than it would have been) so it took a little time to really settle into the game. Once we got our first bucket they calmed down and settled in,” says head coach Phil Gary.

The Huskies were up big at half, and despite a furious Friar run to open the second half, the Huskies held on to win 66-52.

“There were so many OPRF fans at the game, it really pumped up the building. They almost deserve half the win,” said Gary. “After the game, (OPRF alum and NBA champion) Iman Shumpert came to the locker room to congratulate all our guys, which was pretty awesome. He’s been in all their shoes. It’s helpful to have a guy who understands the community, understands the value of being in Oak Park.”

On Dec. 18, the team will play host to Lake Forest and then will participate in the Pontiac Invitational from Dec. 28 through Dec. 30.