DuPage County notes: Cerese's 40-point night makes Lake Park history

Lake Park boys basketball coach Billy Pitcher experienced a first in his career on Saturday.

Pitcher, who had a highly successful eight-year stint at Lake Zurich, watched junior guard Camden Cerese explode for 40 points to lead the Lancers to a win over Wheaton North. Cerese's big effort was the second highest single-game scoring total in program history, right behind John Robertson's 46-point outburst against Wheaton Central in 1970. In recent years, David Mikrut had the most points, scoring 39 against Guerin Prep in 2005. The 6-foot-3 Cerese lit up the Falcons, shooting 15-of-24 from the field, including 4-of-8 on 3-pointers to raise his season average to 20 points per game.

"It was a greatest individual performance in a single game of anyone I've ever coached in my 13 years as a head coach, and even on the bench as an assistant," Pitcher said. "He even had five steals in the game. He was all over the floor, guarding their best player.

"He was terrific. He took good shots, took what the defense gave him and passed it when he got cut off. It was a culmination of all his effort in the offseason, especially conditioning."

The Lancers (5-2, 3-0 Dukane Conference) have played strong basketball in the last few weeks to build some momentum for a push for the conference title.

"We're making progress," Pitcher said. "We had arguably our best game of the year in our first game against Downers Grove North. We didn't play well the rest of the Wheaton Academy Thanksgiving Tournament. The last two games we've gotten back on track. We're taking care of the ball."

Naperville Central update:

Naperville Central has four days of practices before playing at neighborhood rival Naperville North on Friday. The Redhawks (4-6, 0-2 DuPage Valley) are slowly rounding into form,

"I feel we're getting better every night out," Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer said. "We're battling, just coming up short at the end. We're playing hard. Early in the season, we weren't playing this hard, but we feel everybody is falling into their roles. We're defending better and getting after it. We're young, but because of that we're having tough time finishing games."

Senior point guard Simon Krugilakovas is sparking the offense, averaging 20 points per game. Senior guard Ivan Najdovski scored 27 points in a loss to West Aurora on Monday.

"Simon makes us go," Kramer said. "He came off the bench last year. He's a solid player. He scores in a lot of different ways. Grady Cooperkawa is playing strong. Michael Boyce is a tough and physical kid who defends and rebounds for us. Ivan has stepped up of late after slowly learning his role. We're a young team and had some growing pains, but we're getting better."

York update:

York basketball coach Mike Dunn, in his third season, is ready for another opportunity to win his own tourney.

The 32-team Jack Tosh Holiday Classic is one of the top events of the holiday season, with some of the elite teams and players from Chicagoland. Last season, Glenbard West dominated the field to win the tourney title en route to the program's first Class 4A state championship.

Dunn said the 2022 tourney added several new teams, including Glenbrook South, Waubonsie Valley, Glenbard North and Yorkville.

The five-day tourney will announce pairings by the middle of the week, as the tourney starts on Dec. 26.

"We're excited because it's going to be a great tournament," Dunn said. "I think it's one of the best, maybe from top to bottom, in the state. It's extremely well-run tournament, and it's a special thing to be a part of."

After a solid offseason working on his game and conditioning, York junior guard AJ Levine is a player to watch in the tournament. He's averaging a team-high 16.6 points per game. Junior forward Braden Richardson and junior Brendan Molis also are the key returnees for the Dukes (4-5). Richardson is averaging 6.3 points and 4.5 rebounds.

Levine credited his strong play this season to his workouts in the offseason, which helped him prepare for a larger role. Levine said he's noticed a big difference in his conditioning, athleticism and vertical.

"In the past year, I've done a lot of lifting which has made a huge difference for my game," he said. "I've gotten bigger and stronger and that's helped a lot with my inside game and finishing. I've put a lot of work with my shot."

Hinsdale Central update:

Ben Oosterbaan is carving a memorable legacy at Hinsdale Central.

The senior forward is averaging nearly 24 points per game this season.

But basketball is not Oosterbaan's main sport - just yet.

He committed to play baseball for Michigan in June of 2021. His success on the hardwood can be attributed to an unusual set of circumstances. The coronavirus pandemic gave him additional time to work on his game, along with some aid from his pastor.

"I was lucky because I had the code of the gym at my church, and we could go anytime," Oosterbaan said. "I would go with my older brother last year at any time, even midnight to shoot. It really upped my game. Basketball just became easier (to do). I would go to the gym with my dad almost every day or shoot 45 minutes in the hoop in my backyard."

All the extra work helped turn Oosterbaan into an unstoppable force on the court, capable of draining 3-pointers, attacking the glass or driving to the basket. Success in sports, though, runs in his family.

His father's great-uncle, Bennie Oosterbaan, was a superstar football and basketball player at Michigan in the 1920s.

"I think right now that the two (sports) are almost even in terms of where I'm at in both sports," Oosterbaan said. "My projectability in baseball could go higher, and I have a better chance to be a professional athlete in baseball, but I do feel I can play with the best players in the state in basketball. I had just always put playing basketball in college out of my mind for some reason."

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