Maine South's Lavorato joins his Dad in 400-win club

Like father, like son.

Tony Lavorato Jr., who is the head boys basketball coach at Maine South, joined his father, Tony Lavorato Sr. in the 400-win club on January 15 when the Hawks beat Perspectives from the Chicago Public League.

Since that time, the Hawks have won two more games, putting Lavorato Jr. at a career mark of 402-290.

Lavorato Jr. has been at Maine South since the 2003-04 season and is currently 337-199 at the Park Ridge school. He is in his 24th year as a head coach and spent a year coaching at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, Ind., and four years at Stagg in Palos Heights.

"There are very few lifers nowadays," Lavorato Jr. said. "I kind of grew up around the game. To have the longevity that I have had, it is not an individual thing. I have had really good players. I have had an amazing staff, especially the staff here at Maine South. We have been together a long time."

Lavorato Jr. needs just four more wins to catch his father, who had 406 career wins while coaching for 28 years at Princeton, Ill., and at Hinsdale South. Lavorato Jr. and his brother Tim, who would later coach at Willowbrook, played for Lavorato Sr.

It's all about family for Lavorato Jr. So, it was no wonder that he was surrounded by his family two weeks ago when he won his 400th career game. He credits his wife Mary for his success.

"You have to have this unbelievable family support," Lavorato Jr. said. "It all stems from my wife. Because we don't live in the district, here I am coaching other people's kids while my wife is essentially between November and March and in the summer when we run our camp, raising our kids by herself. It really is an all for one, selfless act by my wife. If she is not on board and my kids aren't on board, I am not able to do what I have done."

Lavorato Jr. picked up win number 402 Tuesday when the Hawks beat Hinsdale South 54-44. It was he first time he coached against his son, Anthony, who plays for the Hornets. Also in attendance was his dad, who is 74.

"I strive to be as good as person as he is," Lavorato Jr. said. "He is the greatest coach I have ever known. If I could be 1/10th of a person and coach that he was, I will have a very successful career."

College commits and offers:

As the season goes into its final leg, there are just a handful of college commitments from this year's local senior class. And thus far, there are no Division-I commitments.

That comes on the heels of last season when the Northwest suburbs produced three D-I players in Rolling Meadows' Max Christie (Michigan State), Hersey's Ethan Roberts (Army) and Schaumburg's Chris Hodges (Wisconsin). Hodges did not play last season due to personal concerns.

This year Barrington leads the way with commits with Will Grudzinski (Washington University, St. Louis) and Nate Boldt (Illinois Wesleyan). Their teammate, Daniel Hong, has some offers, but has yet to commit.

The only other area commit was a recent one. Actually, it was a pair.

That came last week when Hoffman Estates' twins Mike and Nick Vuckovic committed to Dubuque.

Rolling Meadows junior Cameron Christie has eight D-I offers including Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa, Iowa State, Mississippi, Minnesota, Marquette and DePaul.

Meanwhile, Cam Christie's teammates have also been getting lots of attention.

Senior guard Orlando Thomas has been gaining lots of interest, thanks to his play this season, especially at the Jack Tosh tournament, where he was named all-tournament. Thomas is garnering interest from D-II and D-III teams and a deep run by the Mustangs in the postseason could help even more.

Rolling Meadows' junior forward Mark Nikolich-Wilson has also gained tons of interest, as well has freshman Ian Miletic.

Maine South's Julian Triffo and Nick Rentas have also received D-III offers. Both did not see much action last year as the Hawks were a senior-dominated club. But the duo has had interest pick up this season.

Buffalo Grove, which had Kam Craft, a D-I commit to Xavier, transfer to an Atlanta prep school, has another player that has been drawing attention. Adidas Davis, who is a senior, has been drawing interest from Grambling State and West Virginia State.

Prospect's Owen Schneider, who has been a three-year starter for the Knights, has also generated interest and multiple offers from D-II and D-III schools.

Schaumburg Christian's Aaron Oresimus has offers from Olivet Nazarene, which is an NAIA school, and D-II Nyack College in New York.

Hardwood Classic founder passes away:

Ted Ecker, who was Wheeling's basketball coach from 1969 to 1980 passed away in late December from a long battle with leukemia. He was 81.

Ecker is the only coach in Wheeling basketball history to have a winning career. He was 148-123 in his 11 years as head coach of the Wildcats, winning three regional titles.

Ecker is also credited with starting the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, one of the premier high school basketball holiday tournaments in the state, in 1979. Ironically, Ecker passed away on December 27, the opening day of the 2021 Hardwood Classic.

  Hoffman Estates' Mike Vuckovic tries to get past Addison Trail's Sammy Renc in a boys basketball game in Hoffman Estates on Tuesday John Starks/
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