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Carol Stream

Boys basketball preview: Improvement all around for Panthers

CAROL STREAM – Coming off an outstanding summer campaign, the Glenbard North boys basketball team headed into the 2013-14 season with plenty of momentum and high expectations.

“We did a great job this summer,” Glenbard North coach Joe Larson said. “We beat some good teams and did well at some very competitive tournaments. I’m really looking forward to the year.”

Much of the optimism lies in the fact that the Panthers return four starters, a group that is headlined by Chip Flanagan, a senior forward who averaged 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists a year ago.

“He has gotten stronger and his jump shot has gotten better,” Larson said. “He is definitely a guy we look to for scoring. But at the same time, a lot of guys can do that. We are well balanced and the more you are well balanced, the harder you are to guard.”

To Larson’s point, the squad also brings back experienced seniors Justin Jackson, Pasquale Fiduccia and Kendall Holbert, as well as Brett Paderewski, Jeremiah Fleming and Robert Collier, a trio that saw valuable minutes off the bench last season.

“Our shooting has definitely improved in the offseason,” the coach said. “We could shoot it pretty well last year, but I think we will be better this year. And we’ve got a lot of guys who can take the ball to the basket and finish. And the thing to like most about this group is how unselfish they play.”

One focal point this winter is closing out games as Glenbard North saw a few potential wins slip away late in 2012-13. Another year of experience can only help.

“With the experience coming back, guys understand situations better,” Larson said. “Late in games, you have to be able to execute and you’ve got to be able to hit free throws.”

As for the DuPage Valley Conference, the competition is once again expected to be fierce, though a favorite for the crown is still up in the air.

“It’s going to be well balanced and very competitive,” Larson said of the DVC, “and there is always good talent. And definitely we are one of those teams that should be there [in the conference race].”

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