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Strong holiday tourney run gives Hinsdale Central momentum for second half

Red Devils headed in right direction as they open 2014 play against Proviso West on Jan. 10

HINSDALE – Coming off four victories at the esteemed Proviso West Holiday Tournament, Hinsdale Central’s boys basketball team has plenty of reason for optimism heading into the new year.

“I think we played some of our best basketball there,” Hinsdale Central coach Nick Latorre said. “And it was really nice to get five games there; I think the first three years there we only played three games. Overall, it was a very positive tournament and I like the direction this team is going.”

One player instrumental in the success was junior Matt Rafferty, who was selected to the all-tournament second team at Proviso West.

“He’s good,” Latorre said. “He does a little bit of everything. That’s the thing about him, he is so versatile. And he can knock down shots, which creates matchup problems for people.”

Latorre also pointed out the contributions of senior Grant Lillard, though what he provides often doesn’t show up in the scorebook.

“He’s had tremendous games for us,” the coach said. “It’s not a surprise to us. He is so good defensively, he can guard all five positions on the floor. We knew it, we thought it. We had him projected as the Jared Eck [a senior last year] guy. We thought he could fill that role and he has done it very, very well.”

The Red Devils take a record of 10-3 into 2014 and the most exciting part might be that Latorre still sees room for improvement.

“We need to get better in some areas, and I think we can get better in those areas,” he said. “I think we’ve had some games where we turned the ball over excessively. We always can get better at taking care of the ball.

“I think we can get a little crisper running our offense against pressure. But we have young guards, and in the second half of the season, our young guards need to continue to make strides. And [football players] Ian Bunting and Chase Hamilton are just getting their basketball feet.”

Hinsdale Central will end up having nine days off between games as Tuesday’s contest against highly-regarded St. Viator was canceled due to the weather. That game is expected to be played on Saturday, one day after the Red Devils return to the court against Proviso West in a West Suburban Silver affair.

“They [Proviso West] are dangerous because they play so hard and they are so athletic,” Latorre said. “If we can take care of the ball and rebound, we should be OK. But they pose a lot of problems because of their athleticism.”

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