Boys basketball preview: Pupillo leads improved Blazers team

Published: Friday, Nov. 29, 2013 2:00 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo by Colin McAuliffe)
Addison Trail guard James Pupillo dribbles upcourt in a game against Downers Grove South last year. Entering his fourth year on the varsity, Pupillo averaged nearly 17 points a game as a junior.

ADDISON – Once last season ended, Addison Trail coach Brendan Lyons was already excited for this time of year.

At the time he said this group of Blazers has the most returning talent he’s ever had. Now it’s time to see how many wins that can translate to.

Leading the way is four-year varsity starting point guard James Pupillo. The crafty guard, who averaged 16.9 points last year, can make every pass and has the ball-handling ability to be a dominant player.

“His growth as a player will make him one of the best guards in the area, if not the state, this season,” Lyons said.

Two more returning seniors starters, leading three-point shooter Joe Kurucar and top rebounder Simon Jakubczak, are also back. Junior forward Taylor White saw significant time last year and showed improvement throughout the season.

Seniors Tyler Gilliam, Joe Villasenor, Ronald Duling and Anthony Tawrel are expected to contribute throughout the course of the year. Villasenor is 6-foot-5 and Duling, a 5-foot-8 point guard, led the JV team in scoring last season

“I believe we will be able to score consistently from the perimeter and create a variety of looks off the dribble,” Lyons said. “Our ability to control game tempo, handle pressure and limit turnovers will be critical factors in determining our success.”

While size isn’t a strength of the team, 6-foot 4 Jakubczak, Villasenor and 6-foot-4 junior Dante Frontier give the Blazers a few options with good size.

The Blazers will compete in three tournaments this season. They opened the season at West Chicago for a Thanksgiving tournament. AT will once again host its pre-holiday tournament throughout the middle of December. After Christmas they will head to Centralia.

Lyons admitted that Morton and Proviso East should again be at the top of the West Suburban Gold, but the Blazers have a good chance to push Hinsdale South and Downers Grove South for third in the conference.

AT lost its opener 74-67 to West Chicago on Monday. Pupillo had a team-high 27 points and Kurucar added 12. The next day the Blazers topped Marmion 88-84. On Wednesday AT fell to King, 80-67.

Addison Trail Blazers

Coach: Brendan Lyons

Conference: West Suburban Gold

2012-13 record: 9-20 (3-9 WSG)

Next game: 3:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29 at West Chicago tournament

Top returners:

Simon Jakubczak sr. F

Joe Kurucar sr. G

James Pupillo sr. G

Taylor White jr. F

Promising newcomers:

Matt Gontarek jr. G

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