Waubonsie Valley's Jared Brownridge puts up two points against Lincoln-Way East at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Ill., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
The hopes for Waubonsie Valley’s boys basketball team are high coming off an 18-9 season with most of its nucleus — including Santa Clara-bound sharpshooter Jared Brownridge — back in the fold.
The Warriors return three full-time starters and two players who started at times off last season’s team that finished 7-3 in the Upstate Eight Valley, giving them hope to make a run at defending champion Metea Valley.
“I think our kids have high expectations of themselves,” Waubonsie coach Steve Weemer said. “I’m excited about it. I think we have an opportunity to have a fun and productive year. I like our chemistry. I like our attitude right now. I don’t know if we’re the favorite, but I think we’re a team that will be mentioned as a team that can be in the upper half (of the conference).”
It all starts with Brownridge, who recently got his college decision out of the way. He has led the team in scoring the past two seasons, developing into one of the deadliest outside shooters around. Santa Clara, the school that produced veteran NBA point guard Steve Nash, went hard after Brownridge and was rewarded when he chose the Broncos.
“They just recruited him the longest and they hung in there the whole time,” Weemer said. “I think he really liked the business school and the opportunities they have in Silicon Valley. He was excited for that opportunity. It will be good for him. He’ll get a chance to play early. They needed a shooter.”
Bryan Jefferson, a 6-foot-6 forward, is back for his third varsity season coming off an all-conference nod. The quarterback of the football team, Dylan Warden, returns after a solid senior season under center. Junior Jack Cordes (6-6) started off and on last year and battled some injuries, but he is back. Gary Sutton ran the point late last season and returns as well.
Senior Javares Stewart saw some action last year and returns. Weemer also points to a pair of juniors, Jay DeHaan and Matt Gialamas, who have a chance to break into the rotation and make an impact.
The Upstate Eight Valley has turned into a solid basketball conference quickly. Defending champion Metea Valley lost many key players, but still should be solid. Bartlett is led by UIC-bound guard Lance Whitaker and Neuqua Valley has Western Illinois-bound point guard Jabari Sandifer back for his third varsity season.
“I think Metea will be good again,” Weemer said. “Bartlett has a good group back. East Aurora will be a lot better. Lake Park will be pretty solid. I don’t know much about South Elgin, but everyone else will be ready to lace them up. (Neuqua’s) down years are what I would call good years. They’re well-coached.”