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Over the last two years, the Aurora Central boys basketball team has posted a pedestrian-looking 29-31 record.
In this instance, numbers don’t tell the story as the Chargers have two Class 3A regional titles and a sectional championship in the trophy case, and despite going just 12-17 made it to the Sycamore sectional final a year ago before bowing out of the tournament to Rockford East.
The Chargers’ record is the result of playing a tough regular-season schedule that prepares Central for the rigors of state tournament play. On top of that, it gives players valuable experience so they can step into the shoes of players lost to graduation.
Central has a couple of huge pairs of shoes to fill, as Joey McEachern and Robert DeMyers, the team’s top two scorers and rebounders a year ago, have moved on to their college careers. Still, coach Nate Drye thinks several players are ready to step up and take on those roles.
“They have seen the other guys do it, and now it is their turn to carry it on,” said Drye, in his ninth year at the school. “They are (experienced) and now it is their turn to get it done. They know what our system is and how they plug it in. The next guys are ready to go when those guys leave and that’s how you need to be if you want it to keep (success) going.”
Many of the players in this year’s rotation played supporting roles in 2011-12 but came on as the season progressed.
Leading the way will be senior Anthony Andujar, a lightning-quick guard who averaged just over four points and four assists a game. Senior Phil Schuetz joins Andujar in the lineup, and Drye noted he improved greatly over the summer.
Senior Zach Flint, who started three games in the state tournament, also looks to be in the mix, and Shawn Soris gives Drye a minimum of four seniors in his starting lineup.
Drye believes this year’s team might feature better shooters than a year ago. Without a ton of size, he hopes to get out in the open court and get some quick looks, while defensive pressure will allow them to push the ball on offense.
Defensively, there will be few surprises from the Chargers, who have become known for their high pressure 2-3 zone. While they will stretch it out and defend the entire floor, once the offense gets in the half court set Central will do what it does best.
“That’s one thing I know for certain that won’t change,” Drye said. “Our guys do it well, they have been doing it since they were freshmen and that allows us to put some pressure on people. That’s a staple for us. When we do it right it gives us an advantage because nobody works on their zone offense and nobody likes to play against a zone.”
Central will open its season Monday night against the host school at the Joliet West tournament.
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