‘Ambassador of Naperville basketball’ stepping down after 33 seasons

When Naperville Central basketball coach Pete Kramer takes his team to Naperville North Friday night, it will mark the 45th and final crosstown matchup of his illustrious career — barring a postseason meeting.

Kramer has spent the past 33 years coaching at Naperville Central, including the last 21 seasons as the Redhawks’ varsity head basketball coach.

Kramer, who owns a 331-239 career record, has guided 3 teams to Sweet 16 appearances (2005, 2009, 2020).

He has the privilege of coaching his two sons — Nick (2017 grad) and Aidan (2021 grad), along with a lengthy list of standout players, including Drew Crawford, Nick Czarnowski, Eric Chesser, Chris Conway, Simon Krugliakovas, Ben Wolf, Harrison Hallstrom, Michael Blaszczyk, David Niggins, Jonah Hinton, and Robert Suntken.

Two weeks ago, Kramer, who played high school basketball and football at Waterloo Catholic (Class of 1984), made a triumphant return to his alma mater in Iowa, as the Redhawks defeated the Sailors, 64-47, in Oppold Gym.

During his tenure at Naperville Central, Kramer’s teams have staged some memorable contests against rival Naperville North, including a 45-32 Class 4A regional championship win in 2020, a 50-43 overtime victory in the 2013 regional semifinals, and a 62-48 triple-overtime loss in regular-season play in 2012.

“Coach Kramer is a great coach and friend,” said Huskies coach Gene Nolan, who owns a 5-6 record against Kramer since taking over at Naperville North in 2018. “I’ve really enjoyed — and will miss — coaching against his teams.

“He was one of the first people to reach out to me when I cane to North, and I’ll always be grateful for our friendship. The “Cross-Town Classic” is a great rivalry, and coach Kramer has been a part of so many big games over the years. In his retirement, coach Kramer will always be remembered for the hundreds of young people — both in the classroom and on the court — who he has positively impacted at Naperville Central over the last 33 years. He will be missed.”

Longtime Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton echoed Nolan’s sentiments.

“Pete is the ambassador of Naperville boys basketball,” said Sutton. “He has coached boys basketball longer than anybody else. He is known for his tremendous love for basketball and his love for all those Redhawks who have played for him.

“His zone defenses drove us crazy. Kudos to coach Kramer. He will be missed.”

Addison Trail’s Smith reaches 1,500 points

Congratulations to Addison Trail junior guard Luke Smith, who surpassed the 1,500 career point plateau with his game-high 23 points in the Blazers’ 61-50 nonconference triumph over Elk Grove.

Smith has a history of milestone achievements against the Grenadiers.

As a sophomore last season, Smith poured in a career-high 43 points during the Blazers’ 73-63 victory over Elk Grove.

Nearly 30 years ago, former Blazers standout Cory Little scored a school-record 44 points against then state-ranked Proviso East. Little, who played college basketball at UIC, is currently the Blazers’ girls varsity basketball coach.

In 2000, Dave Steele tallied 39 points for the Blazers against Hales Franciscan. Steele went on to play collegiately at North Dakota State and Olivet Nazarene.

Smith, a 6-foot, 180-pounder, warmed up for his 1,500th career point with a 39-point, 7-assist performance in Addison Trail’s 83-72 West suburban Gold loss at Leyden last Friday night.

Earlier this season, Smith reached the 1,000-point mark in the Blazers’ 59-53 loss to St. Charles East (Nov. 29).

Waubonsie Valley still perfect

There is something special brewing at Waubonsie Valley this season.

The Warriors put their 22-game unbeaten streak on the line Friday night at home against DeKalb (16-6, 2-3) in DuPage Valley Conference action.

Coach Andrew Schweitzer’s squad figures to have its hands full against the Barbs. Waubonsie Valley escaped with a 49-45 victory in the first meeting between the teams on Dec. 15 in DeKalb.

On Saturday (4 p.m.), Waubonsie faces perennial power Bolingbrook (18-3) in nonconference play in Aurora.

Last Friday, the Warriors rallied for a 48-45 DVC road triumph over Metea Valley behind junior guard Tyreek Coleman’s game-high 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals.

With his team trailing 45-44 in the final minute, junior forward Moses Wilson (10 points) drained the game-winning 3-pointer and added a steal in the closing seconds to seal the outcome.

One day later, Waubonsie improved to 22-0 with a 65-35 nonconference victory over Plainfield East.

How good can this team be?

“State bound,” Coleman said after Waubonsie’s 20th consecutive win — against West Aurora at the Marmion Shootout.

“At the end of the day, we know what we’ve got to do to keep winning,” he added. “We have to go out and play hard every night — and win.”

Waubonsie is one of three unbeaten Chicago area teams — joined by Beecher (23-0) and Byron (19-0).

“We don’t talk about it much,” said Schweitzer. “These kids are just awesome. I don’t think we’re the most talented team in the area, but we might be one of the most competitive teams in the area.”

Monkemeyer sparks St. Charles East

While their records are identical — both St. Charles East and St. Charles North are 8-16 overall, 1-9 in DuKane Conference play, plenty of community pride will be at stake when the teams meet for the second time Friday night at North.

The Saints, who dropped a 51-45 decision to conference leader Lake Park Tuesday, have been bolstered by the return of junior forward Brad Monkemeyer, who missed games in December with a concussion, as well as the play of junior forward Matt Steinberg.

They’re also hoping for the return of senior forward Jacob Vrankovich at some point. Vrankovich, who earned all-tournament honors during Thanksgiving, has been sidelined by a lower leg injury since December.

“Jake has been cleared to return to basketball activities, but his return has not been 100% determined,” Saints coach Rob Klemm said last month. “We want to make sure we do this right and not rush him back too quickly.”

The North Stars, who lost a 46-41 decision to Wheaton Warrenville South Tuesday, feature seniors Parker Reinke and Jake Furtney.

St. Charles North’s Parker Reinke, pictured in a game last season at Batavia, scored 33 points last week in the North Stars’ win over Wheaton Academy. Sandy Bressner/

Reinke poured in 33 points to lift North to a 72-60 win over Wheaton Academy last weekend at the East Aurora Ernie Kivisto Hoopfest. Earlier in the year, he scored 34 points (seven 3-pointers) against Glenbard North.

“Parker has had some nights like that this year,” said North Stars coach Tom Poulin. “He had 30-point games against Rockford Boylan and WWSouth earlier in the season. If you give him space and he’s feeling it, you’ve got to run him off the line.”

The North Stars won the first meeting with the Saints, 57-46, on Dec. 15.

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