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Dundee-Crown players celebrate with Brandon Rodriguez (center) after Rodriguez scored on a buzzer-beating shot to end the first half of a game against Jacobs earlier this season. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-Times Media
With several local boys basketball teams enjoying their best seasons in decades, it’s almost easy to lose sight of the solid campaign Dundee-Crown is putting together.
The Chargers might not be the flashiest team around, but they bear the mark of a veteran unit given their consistency and steady improvement throughout the season.
Dundee-Crown enters the final weekend of the regular season with an 18-7 record, which marks the program’s highest win total since the memorable 2008-09 campaign when the Chargers finished fourth in the Class 4A state tournament.
“Our kids are pretty accepting of their roles and for the most part they play really hard,” Dundee-Crown coach Lance Huber said. “I don’t think that can be said all of the time about every team. These guys just have a desire not to lose, and I think determination and grit kind of pulls them through a lot of the time.”
When it comes to roles on the team, there is no question seniors Brandon Rodriguez and Dylan Kissack are the go-to players for Dundee-Crown.
Rodriguez is a three-year varsity member who leads the Chargers with 14.8 points per game. Kissack is in his fourth varsity season and isn’t far behind with 12.2 points per game.
“Those two guys have a knack to give us whatever our team needs, whether it’s a rebound, a steal, a basket or a defensive stop,” Huber said. “They’ve been there and they’ve seen a lot of action. It’s good to have those two guys on our team, I can tell you that.”
Senior guard JT Beasley averages 10.2 points and has emerged as another consistent offensive threat for Dundee-Crown’s perimeter-oriented squad. Seniors Trent Muscat and Jack Buckley and junior Cordero Parson have also been steady role players.
The Chargers had a season-best six-game win streak snapped last weekend when they dropped a pair of games, but they got back on track with a win against Cary-Grove on Tuesday. Next week’s it’s on to the Class 4A Jacobs Regional, where Dundee-Crown is the No. 2 seed and in search of its first regional title since the aforementioned 2009 run.
“I think our experience is really helping us out,” Kissack said. “The main thing is that most of our seniors are kind of realizing this is our last chance, so we go into practice trying to get better every day and go into every game like it’s our last.”
This weekend’s top matchups
The regular season wraps up for Class 3A and 4A teams Friday night, and there are a number of intriguing games worth checking out. Here’s a look at some of the highest profile contests:
Larkin (21-4) at Neuqua Valley (25-2) — The Upstate Eight’s two best teams meet again as the River Division champion Royals visit the Valley Division champion Wildcats in the UEC crossover championship game.
The contest comes one week after Neuqua Valley notched a 63-53 win at Larkin in a regularly scheduled game. The Royals will be trying to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time all season while the Wildcats will be seeking their eighth win in a row.
For what it’s worth, Elgin defeated Metea Valley in last year’s inaugural UEC crossover title game, so Larkin will be trying to keep the championship in the River Division for the second straight year.
Crystal Lake Central (22-3) at Huntley (17-7) — The Fox Valley’s crossover title game pits the Fox Division co-champion Tigers against the Valley Division champion Red Raiders.
Huntley has won seven of its past eight games and will be trying to avenge a 54-46 loss at Crystal Lake Central back on Dec. 14.
Hampshire (22-4) at Dundee-Crown (18-7) — There’s sure to be plenty of entertainment when these District 300 foes square off as part of the FVC’s crossover series.
The Whip-Purs earned a share of the FVC Fox title earlier this week, but they were relegated to the second-place game since they lost to Crystal Lake Central twice during division play. The Chargers finished second in the FVC Valley and figure to have a tough task on their hands against a Hampshire club that has won 10 of its past 11.
Burlington Central (12-13, 10-1) at Richmond-Burton (11-13, 9-2) — Burlington Central already clinched a share of the Big Northern East title, but it can win the outright championship by going on the road and defeating Richmond-Burton.
Burlington Central won the first meeting between the teams 69-65 on Feb. 8. Richmond-Burton will be trying to earn a share of its second straight BNC East title while Burlington Central will be trying to extend its season-best six-game win streak.
Williams named UEC River MVP
Elgin senior Arie Williams was voted UEC River MVP by the league’s coaches earlier this week. Williams is the area’s leading scorer with 22.6 points per game going into Thursday’s game at East Aurora.
The entire UEC all-conference team will be announced during Friday night’s crossover championship game between Larkin and Neuqua Valley in Naperville.