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For someone who has not played high school basketball in two years, D.J. Deolitsis showed no signs of rust in his season-opening debut for Hinsdale South.
Hinsdale South lost 73-62 Tuesday to District 86 rival Hinsdale Central in the first round of the Hinsdale South Thanksgiving tournament, but Deolitsis made his case for seeing more playing time with a team-high 19 points, including three 3-pointers, off the bench.
Sophomore Matt Rafferty, a 6-foot-7 center, led the Red Devils with 21 points and 15 rebounds. He scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds in the second half as Central closed the game with a10-3 run after the Hornets came within four points with 2:14 remaining in the game.
“This was a good one for the guys,” Rafferty said. “We’ve been playing good ball in practice and we stepped up in the game.”
Deolitsis was South’s third player off the bench and scored 11 points, including all of his 3s, in the first half. The quarterback from the school’s playoff football team and starting left fielder for the baseball team did not come out for basketball until the first day of tryouts.
The senior played his first game since his freshman year when he started for the sophomore team. Deolitsis gave up basketball to concentrate on football and baseball during the summer.
“I couldn’t do all three of them. I had to sacrifice one,” Deolitsis said. “Basketball was my first love since I was younger. My mom and dad (Stephanie and George) gave me a basketball when I was 1 1/2 years old. Everyone in my family and my little brother (Drew) has watched me play.”
Deolitsis’ three-point play brought the Hornets to within 63-59 late in the fourth quarter, but the Devils answered with eight consecutive points.
While sitting out for basketball the last two years, Deolitsis kept on playing in a Sunday league at his church, St. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox, in Palos Hills.
“He is a tremendous competitor. He will give you everything he has,” said first-year Hornets coach Tanner Mitchell, who attends the same church as the Deolitsis family. “The other day in practice I talked with my assistant coach and said, ‘That kid has to find a way to get on the floor.’”
Brian Owens had 16 points and shot 8 of 9 at the free-throw line and Chase Hamilton added 12 points for Central.
In his varsity debut, Larry Motuzis scored 15 points, including three 3-pointers, and Justin Ward had 11 points for South. The Hornets played without two potential starters in Tyler Zampa (illness) and Pierre Andresen, who tore a tendon in his right ankle in practice and will miss 4-6 weeks.
In the tournament’s second round, Central plays De La Salle at 6 p.m. Friday and South hosts Sandburg at 7:30 p.m.