Fox boys basketball notes: Klemm enjoying transition to St. Charles East head coach

Through the first couple weeks of the basketball season, St. Charles East's Rob Klemm is learning about his team - and how to be a varsity head coach for the first time.

"I think it was Bob Knight who said the difference in being the head coach as opposed to the assistant is that you go from making suggestions to making decisions," said Klemm, who took over for longtime Saints coach Patrick Woods last summer. "I wouldn't say it has been the most difficult, but I think that has been the biggest adjustment overall, not just in games, either, but with the program as a whole."

The Saints have split their first 6 games, finishing 2-2 in their own RJ Thanksgiving Tournament, capped by a 72-71 overtime victory over Plainfield East.

"There is something we can take away and learn from each game, and that's what we're trying to do - get better every day in order to reach our goals," said Klemm. It's important to have these close games to learn how to win. We're able to learn a lot as coaches, too, to make sure that we're putting the players in the best spots to be successful in those situations."

Senior Jake Vrankovich and junior Marco Klebosits earned all-tournament honors.

"Brad (Monkemeyer) had some huge moments in there, too, with his 4-point play against Plainfield East," said Klemm. "Andrew Wolfsmith has been an offensive spark off the bench, and Cooper Jensen brings a ton of energy as well. Sam Tisch has been a solid all-around player for us, and Jake Greenspan has been great as our floor leader."

South Elgin update:

There was a method to South Elgin coach Philip Church adding a team like Lake Park to the schedule this season.

Despite his team's 47-39 loss to the Lancers last weekend, Church felt like it was exactly what his players needed.

"When we were looking for noncons, I wanted to find as many teams as possible that played in sectionals last year," said Church. "It's important for young players to develop the mental toughness and discipline those programs play with throughout an entire game. We've gone toe-to-toe with everyone but those five or six forced shots or sloppy passes per game are the difference right now."

Junior guard Shailen Shukti hit four 3-pointers against the Lancers.

Last week, Derek Clark and Ethan Zagore scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, in South Elgin's Upstate Eight opening 58-54 victory over Glenbard South. Connor Hodges and KJ Brooks chipped in with 9 points apiece.

"Rotations are starting to iron out," said Church. "Our feeder organization is in the infancy of its rebirth, and that is critical to getting players coming to the school who have played the style of basketball we do at the high school level. This will help smooth out the valleys in our roller coaster starts."

"We are trying to find the finishers on the team - who we can trust to make the right decision and understand possession basketball."

Crystal Lake South update:

Crystal Lake South raised its record to 6-1 with Monday's 84-50 victory over Harvest Christian.

Last weekend, the Gators (2-0 in Fox Valley Conference) edged nemesis Burlington Central on junior guard AJ Demirov's layup with 39 seconds remaining.

"It was important win mainly because it was at home against a quality program that has dominated the conference the past few years," said Gators coach Matt LePage.

"So far, we've played physical, and our depth has been solid with a 9-man rotation. Demirov is our lone returning starter - he has done a nice job leading our new group both as a scorer and distributor."

Burlington Central update:

Burlington Central began the week with a 3-2 record, 1-1 in FVC play, following a second-place finish in Sycamore's Thanksgiving tourney. The Rockets then beat Dundee-Crown on Wednesday night for coach Brett Porto's 300th win.

"We defend very well for being so young," said Porto, who lost 6-9 Daily Herald All-Area Captain center Drew Scharnowski to graduation. "We will be able to keep ourselves in a lot of games playing that type of defense.

"Jake Johnson and Caden West did start last year, but they are in different roles now and still adjusting. We have three freshmen playing with us and all have seen a lot of minutes so far this season, which will only help down the road."

Porto took last weekend's 2-point loss to CLS as a positive.

"I was very pleased with how we played at South," said the coach. "We started out down 12-0, were 7 of 15 from the free-throw line, and played without our best defender (Patrick Shell), but we had multiple chances to win. I thought it was a step in the right direction for this group."

Aurora Christian update:

Aurora Christian is off to a 6-1 start, thanks to the play of sophomore point guard Marshawn Cocroft (19 ppg), senior guard/forward Cam Morel (15.4 ppg), and sophomore guard Jacob Baumann (10.9 ppg).

"Our team has been playing really well defensively and has shot the ball extremely well," said Eagles coach Dan Beebe.

Through 7 games, the Eagles average 66 points.

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