Cook County notes: Elk Grove snaps 60-game MSL losing streak

It was like winning a championship game for Elk Grove.

The Grenadiers opened the MSL East season on a 60-game losing streak. They had not won a conference basketball game since the final regular season game in 2018.

That all ended on Dec. 2 when Elk Grove beat Wheeling 66-63.

"We had a heck of a celebration in our team meeting room," Elk Grove coach Nick Oraham said. "The kids felt like a weight was lifted off their shoulders. I felt really happy for the kids. They have put in a ton of work between the summer, our offseason conditioning program, the weight room, and now. So to see the fruits of their labor was awesome."

The Grenadiers are 3-6, 1-1 heading into Friday's game with Prospect. Elk Grove will play Rolling Meadows the following Friday and then play at the Hinkle tournament at Jacobs over the holiday.

Bronson Bartuch leads Elk Grove with 19 points per game. Josh Mottley is averaging 9.4 points and Dylan McCorry 8.6 points while Lucas Rogers and Amir Hussein are each averaging five points off the bench.

Barrington picked up where it left off a year ago. The Broncos, who were third in the state in Class 4A, were expected to be in a rebuilding year after losing the bulk of its players to graduation.

But not so.

Led by Dillon Schmidt, Donovan Nichols and Alec Schmidts with help from Ryan Shomaker, John Gurskis, Jake Feightner, Nick Peipert, Oliver Gray and Adam Baird, Barrington is off to a 7-0 start and 2-0 in the MSL West. The Broncos are also the top seed in the newly formatted Hinkle tournament at Jacobs over the holidays.

Buffalo Grove did not have a ton of experience returning, but the Bison (3-5, 1-1) began the season quite well.

Connor Woodin leads the team with 9.6 points per game. Luke Anam-Ndu is averaging 7.6 points while Jack Bank is just behind with 7.5 points. Matthew Maradkel has done a great job defensively for the Bison while Bank leads the team in rebounds with five per game.

Conant has been using a stifling defense in recent weeks to get off to a solid start this season. The Cougars (5-2, 1-1) have allowed an average of just 31 points per game in their last four games and 39 points for the season.

Yusuf Cisse leads the Cougars, who play at the Jack Tosh over the holidays, with 13 points per game while Camden Lathos is averaging 12 points. Austin Potocnic and Shreyas Talluri have played well and sophomore Bradley Biedke is emerging as a key asset.

"We are playing hard but have a lot of room for improvement in the area of execution," Conant coach Matt Walsh said. "We just need experience."

Hersey has nearly matched its win total of eight from last season. And the Huskies (6-5. 1-1) have not yet reached holiday tournament time where they will head to Pekin.

"Our team is continuing to improve," Hersey coach Austin Scott said. "They will hit their stride once fall sports guys get into full swing."

Max Menninga leads the Huskies with 11.6 points and 7.2 rebounds. Jackson Hupp is averaging 9.8 points, Johnny Ryg 8.4 points and Jared Ryg 7.8 points.

After losing their first two games in conference play Hoffman Estates is looking to get back on track. The Hawks (6-3, 0-2) are hoping to turn things Friday when they play at Fremd.

Hoffman, which will play at the Hinkel tournament, has been led by DJ Wallace who is averaging 15 points and Nate Cleveland who is averaging 11 points. Jacob Atkins-Mirich is averaging 5 assists per game while Trendell Whiting is now healthy and "is making a big impact" according to coach Peter McBride.

Maine South has played a brutal schedule to begin the season with. And it doesn't appear to get much better.

The Hawks (1-6, 0-2) have played Lincoln-Way East, Lyons Township, New Trier and Rolling Meadows. They are scheduled to play Glenbrook North on Friday and then open the Hinsdale Central tournament the following week with Marian Catholic.

"We have played the hardest schedule in the area," Maine South coach Colin Wehman said. "We are excited to continue to watch this team grow, improve and continue to come together. We have a great group of high character guys who compete hard."

Sophomore guard Tyler Sierra leads the team in scoring. Kaden Karstens, Ryan Pothast and Chris Gonzalo have also been big contributors.

Maine West is 1-7, 0-2. The Warriors are getting their feet under new head coach Daniel Paxson.

"The team is working hard and staying positive during some tough stretches," Paxson said. "We are doing some good things on the court but need to string together consistency in our half court execution."

Maine West will play at the Hardwood Classic in Wheeling over the holidays. Paxson said his team is getting solid play from Isaac Pittman, Nic Chavez, London Lim, Darren Wojdyl and Dennis Gonzalez along with leadership from Matthew Weinert and Liam McConkey.

After a slow start, Prospect is beginning to roll into shape. The Knights (3-5, 1-1) are led by Alex Georgakas, who is averaging 12.4 points, and Ben Schneider, who is averaging 9.8 points. Jake Parisi, Charlie Gilmer and Nolan Murray have also been key contributors while coach Brad Rathe has liked the play of junior Cole Chapman.

"He (Chapman) has stepped into the starting lineup and has a great job competing with guys much bigger than him," said Rathe, whose team will play in the Hardwood Classic. "He is our leading offensive rebounder and has found new ways to score inside."

Palatine has jumped off to a solid start. The Pirates were able to quickly reintroduce their football players to the hardwood and it has paid big dividends.

"We are doing some good things," said Palatine coach Eric Millstone, whose team will play in the Jack Tosh tournament. "But we also know we have some strides to make to be the team we want to be in February and March."

Connor May leads Palatine with his 16.5 scoring average. Tyler Swierczek averages 15 points while Sam Millstone is averaging eight points. Quinn Golletz and Tommy Elter have also been big factors in the team's success.

Rolling Meadows will be looking to bounce back after their first loss of the season last Saturday to New Trier. The Mustangs are led by Cameron Christie, who is averaging 22 points. Ian Miletic is averaging 11 points, Tsvet Sotirov and Mark Nikolich-Wilson 10 points, Foster Ogbonna 8 eight points and Jack Duffer six points.

Sotirov, who injured his ankle last Friday in the Mustangs' win over Hersey, could be sidelined until the Jack Tosh tournament.

St. Viator is happy to have Eli Aldanna back in its lineup. The senior is averaging 20.3 points and helped the Lions stun Marian Catholic last week.

"It has been an up and down start to the season for the Lions," St. Viator coach Mike O'Keeffe said. "It is due in large part due to multiple injuries and over half the team missing extended time due to sickness."

Wheeling is off to its best start in years. The Wildcats (5-4, 0-2) are led by RJ Gamble (13 points per game) and Josh Hutchinson (12 points per game) while Zach Zalewski has been strong on the boards.

"We are continuing to try to stack days and weeks in order to get better," Wheeling coach Tom Antosz said. "We have a tough, competitive group that will fight to win games."

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