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Elgin point guard Arie Williams is back for his fourth varsity season after averaging 12.8 points as a junior. | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
When Arie Williams brings the ball up the court during his fourth varsity season, he’ll have an entirely different cast of teammates waiting at the other end.
The 5-foot-8 senior has been a mainstay at point guard for Elgin during his high school career, helping the Maroons claim consecutive regional and Upstate Eight River titles during back-to-back 20-win seasons.
Elgin leaned heavily on a seven-man rotation to key its recent success, but six of those players were seniors during last year’s 26-4 campaign. That leaves Williams as the only returner with significant varsity experience as the Maroons forge ahead with a vastly different set of expectations.
“I never go into a season expecting to lose, but there is going to be a learning curve with this crew just because there are so few varsity minutes stepping on the floor for us,” Elgin coach Mike Sitter said. “The speed of the game, the intensity and the physical play of Upstate Eight basketball is going to be new to some of these guys and is going to be an eye opener.”
Luckily for Sitter, he has a savvy court leader in Williams who is ready and willing to lead the program’s transition.
Williams drained 48 three-pointers and averaged 12.8 points, 2.4 assists and 1.9 steals last year while earning All-UEC River honors. After serving as the team’s second scoring option behind two-time Courier-News Player of the Year Kory Brown the past few years, the time has come for Williams to shoulder an even heavier load.
“Arie was a captain last year and this is his fourth year on varsity, but it was always Kory’s team,” Sitter said. “When things were down, Kory would put the team on his back. What I like is Arie did that stuff in the summer and during the offseason.
“He’s been nothing but positive. We’ve got some younger guys who don’t have varsity minutes, and he’s almost another coach on the court teaching as much as he is playing.”
Senior Eric Sedlack (6-4, G/F) saw limited playing time last year, but Sitter thinks a season of matching up against Brown in practice should help Sedlack become a more consistent contributor.
Sitter’s son, junior Ryan Sitter (6-1, G/F), also logged a few varsity minutes last year and brings versatility to the lineup.
Seniors Tanner Bednar (5-11, G) and William Gibson (6-0, F) will help round out the rotation along with juniors Isaiah Butler (6-1, G) and Malik Dunner (5-11, G).
“Athleticism is something we have going for us, and we have no problem scoring,” Sitter said. “It’s a matter of if we want to defend.
“It will probably take until Christmas until we start playing the defense I want to see us play. With these guys, their basketball IQ needs to catch up with their athleticism.”