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Home Run Kids' John Lesniewski (right) dribbles around Lake Forest Academy's James Wick. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
How’s this for an odd-couple matchup on the hardwood?
Host Lake Forest Academy is a boarding school, and its basketball team has players whose homes are far away from the LFA campus.
The visitors were the Home Run Kids Eagles, which is a team based out of the Village Church of Gurnee consisting of home-schooled kids who don’t attend a traditional school.
With the tiny LFA gym as a backdrop, the teams played a boys basketball game Thursday night, with the host Caxys posting a dominating 63-35 win.
Ryan Clamage led the LFA in scoring with 14 points. He was 4 of 10 from behind the arc. Dejon Brissett, who is from Canada, added 10 points and seven rebounds as LFA improved to 4-6.
For the Eagles, 6-5 Eric Boyd of Zion led with 10 points. D.J. Ostrander of
Lake Villa added seven points, and John Lesniewski of Spring Grove had four points and eight boards. The Eagles are 6-5.
HRK coach Steven Ostrander, who played for the Eagles back in the day, is the brother of D.J. Ostrander.
Here’s how he explained the HRK Kids program.
“Once a week, we have home-schoolers get together for enrichment classes that are a supplement to what they’re learning at home.
“We have specialized teachers — old high-school teachers — who come in and teach their specialty. You don’t have to be a part of these classes to play a sport.
“The sports program is for any full- or part-time home-schoolers”
HRK fields teams in sports for kids in age groups 10-under through high school.
Ostrander said the varsity basketball program has been around for 7-8 years.
“For the varsity boys, the commitment is usually 3-4 days a week with a mix of practices and games,” the coach said. “Sometimes, we’ll have a two-day tournament that will add another day.
“We’ll play over 30 games — like a regular high school team. “Our gym is out of Village Church of Gurnee, which is also is where the ministry is based. They have a gym there that we use for practice.
“There are some other churches that have graciously let us use their facilities.”
Boyd, the team’s leading scorer on Thursday, talked about the program in this way:
“It’s great to play with these guys. We think of ourselves as a team, like everybody we play.
“We work hard in practice, just like any high school team, and in the games, it’s about playing hard and executing.”
The Eagles’ next game is against home-schooled kids from the Rockford area.
“It’s a blast,” Ostrander said. “It’s important because it’s not just about basketball, but developing them as young men.”