Boys Basketball: Two-sport athlete Aikens stays busy
Lyons Township senior Matt Aikens, from Western Springs, has bounced from the baseball diamond to the basketball court this summer. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 17, 2012 1:57AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — Two days after Lyons lost in the Class 4A state championship baseball game, Matt Aikens was back on the diamond as an outfielder in a summer league game at home against York in Western Springs.
Aikens hasn’t had much of a break since.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Lyons Township senior from Western Springs has bounced from the baseball diamond to the basketball court this summer. On June 22 and 23, Aikens’ focus was on basketball as LT played in the fourth annual 20-team Plainfield East Shootout, which also featured West Suburban Silver rival Hinsdale Central. LT lost in the semifinals to Metea Valley.
As the high school summer season winds down players prepare for intensive travel schedules as part of the AAU recruiting season in July.
Aikens doesn’t play AAU travel basketball and will just play baseball. When he isn’t playing for LT during the week, Aikens has been playing the outfield on weekends for the new DuPage Blue Jays travel team, a team started by recent Hinsdale Central graduate Sam Lucente and coached by Lucente’s father.
“We looked all right even though we went 1-3 in our last tournament,” Aikens said. “We beat (perennial power) Top Tier, which is good.”
The Blue Jays include at least five other members of the LT state final team: Illinois State-bound Steve Heilenbach, Brad Taylor, Keith Lehmann and Matt Robare.
Aikens’ only appearance in the state tournament was as a courtesy runner for pitcher Lehmann in the 6-2 state semifinal victory over Minooka June 8 at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.
Aikens became a regular courtesy runner for LT pitchers during the postseason, but Tom Brannan ran for pitcher Heilenbach in the 4-3 state final win over Oak Park-River Forest.
Making the adjustment to basketball took some time. Aikens was a reserve forward last season and is battling for a starting lineup spot for this year’s basketball season.
“You need to regain your touch with the ball; your shot and timing and everything,” Aikens said after playing baseball.