Roadrunners build under pressure
Glen Ellyn, 02/2813--Nazareth Academy's Dan Kienzle scoops in a layup amongst several Montini defenders. Nazareth Academy played Montini Catholic in a Class 3A boys regional basketball game Thursday evening. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Hosts Stagg, 4:30 p.m.
At Argo Invite, 10 a.m.
At Lyons Quad (South Campus), vs. Hillcrest, Prairie Ridge, 10 a.m.
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:36AM
GLEN ELLYN — The bumps and bruises Nazareth experienced during an up-and-down season left some scars.
The Roadrunners also believed they made them tougher.
Nazareth’s season ended with a tough 71-64 loss to Montini in the 3A Glenbard South Regional semifinal. The Roadrunners (13-15) endured injuries and some tough losses in a schedule coach John Bonk believes is the toughest the team has faced.
“I did it by design because I knew our seniors could handle the pressure and I knew they could step up,” he said. “I also wanted the sophomores and the juniors on the team to get the experience they needed for next year.”
This is no surprise to Montini coach Brian Opoka, who played under Bonk at Weber and was his assistant coach at St. Rita.
“The way he builds his team is the right way. He not only creates great basketball players, but he creates great people and they follow his example with the way he leads this team,” Opoka said. “I like what they have been doing and what they can do.”
The Roadrunners have nine juniors and three sophomores who could return for the 2013-14 season. They include starting guard/forward Kevin Connelly, guard Evan McLaughlin, and 7-foot sophomore Tyler Jackson, who missed the final seven games of the season with a knee injury.
Another potential key player is junior guard Michael Brooks, a transfer from St. Joseph’s who is optimistic about the team’s potential.
“We’ve got to go in and not take any games for granted and play every game like it’s our last. If we improve our defense and really play aggressive we should do really well,” Brooks said.
Any success the team has next season, Bonk believes, will rest on the future seniors.
“All our seniors will show leadership. They should lead by example. And how they lead depends on the player, but I think most of them will lead by example,” he said. “Sometimes words are cheap, but actions both on and off the court will define who you are and what kind of leader you are.”
Departing senior guard Dan Kienzle sees the potential for great things.
“This is a very well-rounded team. We’ve got a lot of real good big guys on the team, some really good guards. It’s gonna be fun coming back next year to watch them play. I think they’ll be really good,” he said.