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Sports

Boys Basketball: Westmont's Caden Anderson will take the 1,000 career points – but wants team success

At 15-4, Sentinels have already won their most games in five seasons

Caden Anderson accepts the individual glory.

Westmont's 6-foot-3 junior, though, would gladly substitute it for a bigger trade-off down the road.

Anderson this past week became the ninth player in Westmont boys basketball history to hit the 1,000-point milestone. He's the first to do so in close to a decade.

"It was a big accomplishment for me, it showed all my hard work has paid off," said Anderson, "but honestly it's not the biggest goal I have. I'd gladly trade it in for more wins for the team and more wins in the playoffs."

He could have his cake, and eat it too.

The Sentinels are currently 15-4, sitting two games behind Herscher in the Interstate Eight Conference. They're coming off a third-place finish at the conference tournament.

Westmont has already won as many games since 2012-2013, the program's last winning season. The Sentinels beat Herscher in the tournament third-place game last week. Westmont coach Craig Etheridge thinks they've righted the ship since a mini-slump.

"I thought we played pretty well at the tournament. The third game, against Streator, we just ran into a buzzsaw, they shot 65 percent," Etheridge said. "We were excited to match up with Herscher again; we lost the first time we played them and thought we could have played much better. To redeem ourselves was nice."

Westmont is doing it with great balance.

Anderson, a starter since he was a freshman, is averaging 12.7 points and 6.6 rebounds, and shoots 79 percent from the free-throw line. Those scoring numbers are down a tick from last year, with teammates Matthew O'Leary, Michael Thompson, Tyreke Winston and Troy Schlicher each averaging at least eight points per game.

"We're a tough team to match up with," Etheridge said. "I don't have any big players, but everybody on the floor can play on the outside and they all run the floor well."

Anderson, though, is the foundation.

More solid than flashy, Anderson is a smart player who doesn't get rattled.

A quiet leader.

Even as a freshman, Etheridge said he gravitated toward a leadership role. Anderson, for sure, is invested in Westmont basketball.

When he was in the fifth grade, his dad Cortney Anderson started a travel team with the park district. Several of the current juniors and seniors played on the team. Formerly known as Westmont Peak Performance, now the Westmont Wolverines, the program played a bunch of teams from around the DuPage County area.

Anderson still gives back, helping with the youth program, helping at camps, refereeing youth basketball around town. He does so while carrying a 4.4 weighted grade point average.

"I feel like Westmont is not a very big community. If I can help out and do anything, help the younger kids do better, I want to do it," Anderson said. "Instead of having a stretch of one or two good years, I want Westmont to be good consistently, have a stretch of 5-10 good years."

"He's just a real good kid," Etheridge said of Anderson. "He's a good student, well-liked by his classmates, he doesn't have an ego, and he enjoys playing basketball."

Etheridge projects that Anderson could potentially break into Westmont's top five all-time scorers, but first things first.

Anderson very much would like to win a regional, an accomplishment the Sentinels last reached in 2009. They do have a tough stretch run to the season, with games against Timothy Christian, Streator and a regular season finale at home against conference tournament champion Lisle Feb. 16.

"We're entering the toughest stretch of our schedule, playing a lot of good teams," Etheridge said, "but we're confident. This is going to be a good test. I think we're ready for it."

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