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Waubonsie Valley's Jared Brownridge moves up court against Metea Valley at Metea Valley High School in Aurora, Ill., on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Entering his eighth year at the helm of Waubonsie Valley’s boys’ basketball program, Steve Weemer has experienced good times and bad.
Leading a pair of 20-win teams to consecutive regional titles in 2007 and 2008, postseason success has eluded Weemer and his Warriors in the past two years, as Waubonsie bowed out in consecutive regional semifinals.
“I try not to dwell on that, but I think you have to hit home on that a little bit that ‘you know it’s time for us to take that next step’,” Weemer said. “We’ve kind of, for lack of a better word, shot ourselves in the foot in postseason play and didn’t get as far as we would have liked or had hoped to. So I think you use that as motivation somewhat, but you don’t want to dwell on it.”
Waubonsie Valley will try to move forward with the presence of senior guard Jared Brownridge.
Breaking out as a sophomore, when he averaged 15.4 points during the 2010-11 season, Brownridge had a stellar junior season in averaging a team-high 20.9 points a game for a team that finished 18-9 last year,
including a second-place finish in the Upstate Eight Valley.
Getting the Santa Clara-bound Brownridge some help is imperative.
Senior Bryan Jefferson, the team’s only other returning double-digit scorer alongside Brownridge at 10.3 points a game, senior guard Dylan Warden and junior forward Jack Cordes will look to take advantage of the attention Brownridge will receive from opponents.
“He’s always a big piece of the puzzle for us,” Weemer said of the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Brownridge. “We return a nucleus of our team and obviously he’s the center of that. With that comes a lot of positives and a lot of negatives, too, because he’s gonna be obviously the center focus of other opponents, as well.
“But a good problem to have for us and we have some other guys that I think will step up and have big years for us, as well. We start practice and I think most of our kids are excited about the year and they have high expectations for themselves and want to have a good year.”
Warden, who has had two successful years quarterbacking Waubonsie Valley’s football team, averaged 4.5 points last year as a junior while starting every game. He will be expected to carry some of the Warriors’ scoring load, along with the junior Cordes, who received significant playing time as a sophomore last year before missing some time due to injuries.
“(Cordes) had a great summer and we have high expectations for him to have a good year,” Weemer said. “A lot of the kids have experience. There’s (senior forward) Javares Stewart who had varsity minutes last year and (senior guard) Erick Cepeda and (senior) Gary Sutton played a lot of guard, especially at the end of the year. (Sutton) really came on strong and is gonna play a lot of the point for us. I’m hoping that experience is
gonna really pay dividends.”
The 18 victories Waubonsie Valley secured in 2011-12 before getting upset 66-55 by Hinsdale Central in a regional semifinal were the third-most in Weemer’s tenure, trailing only the back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2006-07 and 2007-08.
But Weemer is excited about just working with the group he has and excited about their prospects down the road if everything comes together.
“I really like the make-up of our team from a size standpoint, from a multi-dimensional (standpoint),” he said. “I think we’re gonna be able to do a lot of things on both sides of the basketball, inside the court. They’re a good group of kids that are all on the same page thus far.”