CAROL STREAM — Due to a variety of factors, from an extended football playoff run to inexperience, the Glenbard North boys basketball team didn't truly come together until after Christmas.
But once the Panthers started to jell, positive results followed. That's what the squad will take into the offseason.
"We got off to a pretty slow start," said Glenbard North coach Joe Larson, whose team finished with a 13-13 overall mark. "We started off 2-5. Getting everybody kind of going, it took until Christmas-time to get stuff organized.
"I thought we definitely came together as a team as the year went along and really our best basketball of the year was at the end which is what you want. A couple more plays against Oak Park (in the regional semifinal) and we knock them off."
Now, with primarily a junior-laden roster, expectations will increase next winter.
"Obviously with a year of maturity and hard work," the coach said, "our skill level should be even higher from this year. But we definitely have to put in a lot of hard work to make us better as players. And we have to get stronger, we have to work hard in the weight room. All of that will pay dividends next year."
The Panthers do lose six seniors to graduation in Ryan Storto, Harry Singh, Brett Consitt, Keenan Edwards, Eric Schroeder and Jason Push. That group came a long way in four years, Larson said.
"That group won two games when they were freshmen and now they obviously contributed to being a good team their senior year, a team that was very competitive. They should be commended for that and I am proud I had the opportunity to coach them."
The group of returners is headlined by leading scorers Chip Flanigan and Justin Jackson, along with Kendall Holbert and Pasquale Fiduccia.
"We definitely want to compete for a conference title next year," Larson said. "That should be a big goal for us next year. And a regional title as well. After that, anything can happen.
"But the guys who logged a lot of minutes this year have to do the work in the offseason for us to become the team we think we can be next year."