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River Grove, 12/11/12 Guerin Prep's Gavin Byrne passes to a teammate during their game against St. Edward in River Grove December 11, 2012. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
A “laundry accident” just might make Guerin junior Gavin Byrne consider changing his jersey number.
Byrne wasn’t wearing his usual No. 21 when he took the court Friday night against Immaculate Conception, leaving many to wonder why the change to No. 11.
“I put my clothes in the washer and my mom, without me knowing, threw in her jacket and it had her lipstick in it,” he said. “She didn’t realize it until she pulled it out of the dryer and she had a panic attack, as did I when I saw the lipstick all over my jersey. Maybe I’ll just keep 11 now — it might be a good luck charm for me.”
The unfamiliar jersey certainly didn’t stop Byrne from taking care of business on the court Friday. He scored 12 points, had three steals and snared a season -- and game-high -- 10 rebounds in a 71-47 loss to Immaculate Conception.
Besides being outscored 26-8 in the second quarter, Guerin hung with the Suburban Christian Gold leaders. That was thanks in part to the play of Byrne, who in the third quarter collected all of the Gators’ hoops and pulled down four of his rebounds.
“Gavin is completely capable of doing that every game,” Guerin head coach Marcus Green said. “He handles the ball for us all the time, he can look to score, he’s long enough to where he can rebound for us, and he can dish out assists. He’s one of those guys who can do a little bit of everything, and it’s something I really didn’t expect from him.”
Byrne came out in the second half undaunted and popped in four third-quarter baskets to try to keep his squad close. He hit his only shot in the first half after an explosive offensive rebound. Crashing the boards and defense are parts of his game that Byrne said he works hard on in practice, and it appears to be paying off.
“I’ve been trying to get on the boards more,” he said. “I’m skinny, but I’m long so I work on ways to reach up and grab more rebounds. I think being able to drive and take the ball to the basket more has been the biggest improvement in my game though. Before the season started I was a little more timid to drive to the basket, but I feel more confident now.”
Gator teammate junior Anthony Marra said Byrne is the type of player who can pick up a team in a variety of ways.
“He’s a great guy, plus on the court he can handle the ball well and he can shoot — drive hard or pull up and drop a shot,” Marra said. “He’s just a good guy to be around and play ball with. He’s a role player. We need him on the court to set up our offense and without him sometimes things just don’t go.”~.