Numbers don’t lie: From his 23-point scoring average to 73 career wins, Cerese leaves his mark at Lake Park

During his junior year, Camden Cerese established a Lake Park single-season basketball scoring record with 691 points as the Lancers finished 21-11 and captured a Class 4A regional championship.

Cerese headed into his senior campaign as a well-known commodity.

What could he do for an encore?


Cerese finished the year with a 23.1-point average and shattered his own single-season school scoring mark with 760 points.

More importantly, the 6-foot-3 guard helped lead Lake Park to their first DuKane Conference title with an unblemished 14-0 record.

The Lancers finished with a 29-4 record, tying their school record for most victories in a season, while capturing back-to-back 4A regional championships.

In addition to earning tournament MVP honors at Wheaton Academy during Thanksgiving week and all-tournament recognition at the Pekin Holiday Tournament in December, Cerese was named as the DuKane Conference Player of the Year after averaging 22.6 points in 14 contests.

Last week, he was selected to the Illinois Media All-State second team.

Now, Cerese can add another postseason honor after being named Captain of the Daily Herald’s 20-23-2024 DuPage All-Area boys basketball team.

“Overall, it was a great season,” said Cerese, who shot 53% from the field, including 36% from 3-point range, and 79% at the free-throw line while averaging 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game. “I’m very proud of our team.”

Lancers coach Billy Pitcher knew Cerese would be a marked man this season, especially in conference games.

“Before the season, I actually thought there was a chance that Camden might average less,” said Pitcher. “As a third-year starter, he was facing teams for the fifth, sixth, and even seventh time around.

“All eyes were on him, yet he was still able to average 23.1 points per game — incredible. That’s a lot of points. There are very few high school players who can score 20-plus points per game — in 32 minutes and in our conference. It’s so hard to do.”

Pitcher watched Cerese improve all facets of his game this season.

“He scored a little more and became a much better passer,” said the coach. “His post game was better. He was able to hit threes, mid-range jumpers and play inside. Defensively, he almost always guarded the best player on the opposition — guys like JJ Hernandez (Glenbard North), Luca Carbonaro (WWSouth), and AJ Levine (York).

“He led by example and by voice. He knew our plays probably better than I did, and he knew where the other guys needed to be. He made everybody better.”

Pitcher remembers seeing Cerese for the first time as a middle schooler prior to his arrival at Lake Park.

“His freshman year was the COVID year — we had some specific workouts that fall,” said the coach. “I remember how good he was as a freshman and discussed moving him up to varsity, but we let a senior-dominated group play their varsity year.

“As a sophomore at our first open gym, he went right at a senior on a drive to the basket. That showed me his mentality. He never missed a workout or a morning run. He always finished first in our sprints. He’s such a competitor — he never wants to lose.”

That competitive drive wasn’t lost on his coach.

“We leaned on him more this year,” said Pitcher. “Often, there was no need to call a late timeout — we’d just give the ball to Cam. If he was double-teamed, he’d make the right pass to an open teammate.”

Cerese enjoyed a lengthy list of big-time accomplishments this season.

In early December, he scored his 1,000th career point on a free throw during a home victory over St. Charles East.

Later that month, Cerese hit the game-winning shot during the Lancers’ 51-49 overtime victory over downstate Morton in the semifinals of the Pekin tournament.

“That was when our team realized how good we could be,” said Cerese.

Following a title-game loss to eventual 3A state runner-up Mt. Carmel at Pekin, the Lancers rattled off 16 consecutive victories, highlighted by a 38-35 win over York and a 44-42, double-overtime home triumph over Glenbard North — on Cerese’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the top of the key.

“That was a great experience,” said Cerese. “We only had 1.7 seconds left. I took the inbounds pass from (teammate) Matt Geraci, took one dribble, and put up the shot. The place went nuts — the most fans I’ve ever seen at a home game.”

Cerese comes from an athletic background, as his mother, Danielle, was a cheerleader and dancer, while his father, George, played high school, college, and semipro football (Chicago Chargers).

“I started playing basketball when I was 5 years old,” he said. “I played some football up until eighth grade, but my first love was basketball.”

Playing alongside classmates Tommy Rochford, Dennasio LaGioia, Pavle Magazin, Jeremy Zakic, and Michael Walsh, Cerese thoroughly enjoyed his senior season.

“Our team had a great bond, especially the seniors,” said Cerese. “We had a lot of team dinners and great times. It was never stressful. It was enjoyable off the court as well — that was more important to me than the on-the-court stuff.”

Cerese, who credits AAU coach Ray Tillman (Greater Purpose Athletics) for his continued training workouts, is currently undecided on a college choice — he has received a D2 offer from Lewis.

“There’s some D1 interest and D2 schools involved as well,” said Cerese, who calls himself a ‘2-way player and 3-level scorer.’ “I’m still talking with schools and will likely make a decision in the next month or so.”

“It’ll be hard for any coach to keep him off the floor,” said Pitcher. “He competes, defends, rebounds, and scores. He’ll make any team he goes to better because he works so hard.

“During his three years on varsity, we had 73 wins — that’s impressive. He’s a winner.”

  Lake Park’s Cam Cerese is the Daily Herald’s DuPage County boys basketball all-aree captain. Taken on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 in Roselle. Joe Lewnard/
  Lake Park’s Camden Cerese and Glenbard North players watch the winning shot fall with less than one second left in the second overtime of a boys basketball game in Roselle on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. John Starks/
  With less than one second left in the second overtime and down by one point, Lake Park’s Camden Cerese shoots the winning shot against Glenbard North in a boys basketball game in Roselle on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. John Starks/
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