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Park Ridge Friday 2-8-13 Maine South's #22 Danny Quinn grabs the rebound during their game against Waukegan held at Maine South Friday evening 2-8-13. | Kevin Tanaka for~Sun-Times Media.
Maine South coach Tony Lavorato Jr. hadn’t talked to his team about the race for the CSL South title prior to this week.
The 10th-year coach and his players have embraced an often-used cliché: The No. 19 Hawks have taken this season one game at a time, focusing on how to beat their next opponent.
While Lavorato Jr. hasn’t mentioned the CSL South race, he has talked about leaving a legacy.
This year’s squad, which is currently 24-3 overall and 8-1 in the conference, will try to cement its legacy as the first Maine South boys basketball team to win a CSL South title. The Hawks’ opportunity comes against New Trier (23-4, 8-1) at 6:30 Friday night in Winnetka.
“It’s a legacy game for our players,” Lavorato Jr. said. “We talk about putting up stickers, cutting down nets and winning trophies so that, in years to come, you can come and show your kid that you took part in putting that in the trophy case.
“That’s what’s neat about high school athletics: It doesn’t matter how old or how fat or how gray you are, you can always go back to the place and if you left your legacy — a trophy, a plaque, or in our case, a sticker up on the championship board — you’re always going to be a part of it the rest of your life. That’s something they have an opportunity to do.”
If this season’s team wins the school’s first CSL South title — the Hawks won the CSL North in 1998-99, and then switched to the CSL South the following season — it can thank Maine South’s 2009-10 team. All five players in this year’s starting lineup have been positively influenced by that squad.
The 2009-10 team finished with 28 wins and reached supersectionals. Senior forward John Solari was a freshman role player who came off the bench that season. He was mentored by Matt Palucki, junior shooting guard Andrew Palucki’s older brother, as an underclassmen and said he learned how to be a better leader because of that relationship.
Sophomore Caleb deMarigny went to nearly every one of Maine South’s home games that season, and said he became more serious about basketball after watching the Hawks’ point guards. Seniors Frank Dounis and Danny Quinn, who were freshmen playing on the Hawks’ lower levels that year, watched as that team helped Maine South basketball reach new heights.
Winning a CSL South title “would be big for the program because the last couple years we’ve really been making big strides,” Quinn said. “We’ve got to take that next step and try to dominate the conference.”
And to accomplish a feat that the 2009-10 couldn’t. New Trier won the CSL South title that year and Maine South finished third. Which would make beating the Trevians that much more special.
“It would be such an honor for all of our seniors, sophomores and juniors,” Dounis said. “It would be great to end our (regular season) with that win.”