Stagg senior Connor Williams, seen here in a Dec. 2 game against Bolingbrook, has helped Stagg jump out to a fast start this season. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Stagg senior Connor Williams, seen here in a Dec. 2 game against Bolingbrook, has helped Stagg jump out to a fast start this season. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Boys Basketball | Stagg off to a strong start, dr

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By Xavier Sanchez
Correspondent

Stagg has started the season strong, opening by winning the title at their own John McBride over Thanksgiving weekend.

The Chargers won the championship game, 49-45, over Plainfield South. Senior guard Connor Williams was named MVP of the tournament, and teammates David Ortiz and Domas Narcevicius were named to the All-Tournament team.

The Chargers continued the success with a win over Bremen on November 28 to improve to 5-0.

But few journeys go from beginning to end without any bumps along the way. Stagg felt its first major challenge when top-10 ranked Bolingbrook came to town and handed them a 67-49 defeat on November 30.

The Chargers bounced back with a 52-41 win at home over Minooka on Dec. 2 to improve to 6-1 entering this week. They will open their SouthWest Suburban Red slate against Lincoln-Way Central (2-5) on Friday, Dec. 8 in Palos Hills.

In the loss to Bolingbrook, the Raiders’ Davion Thompson scored nine of his 18 points in the first quarter. The Chargers’ Lebarion Gilmore hit a three-pointer right as time was expiring in the first quarter, which ended with the Raiders leading 19-15.

Bolingbrook led 37-26 at halftime, and went into the fourth quarter down nine. The broke the game open in the final quarter, leading by as many as 20 points.

Stagg turned the ball over 12 times, which the Raiders turned into 15 points. Chargers senior guard Connor Williams finished the night with 11 points (5-8 FG), six rebounds, six assists and a steal. David Ortiz was Stagg’s high scorer with 12 points.

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Stagg senior Connor Williams drives against a Bolingbrook defender in a game Dec. 2 in Palos Hills. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

“We checked a lot of boxes tonight,” Ortiz said. “We did a lot of great things, but at the end of the day we did not check all of them. I’m really excited for this group; we are going to bounce back.

Experience has made the start for the Chargers go smoother than in years past. Stagg has eight returning varsity players on their rosters.“Usually we spend the first two weeks reinstalling things, reteaching things, and trying to figure out what our identity is going to be,” said coach Marty Strus. “Yes, there are some new parts here and there, but a lot of it we have been building that identity over the last couple of years.”

“It’s been nice to say things and have players know what it is we are talking about.”Williams said winning the SouthWest Suburban Conference is among the Chargers’ goals.

“We are hosting regionals so maybe win that, too,” he said. “Maybe get 20 wins.”

The last time the Chargers won 20 or more games was 2013-2014, when Max Strus — Marty now with the Miami Heat — was playing in Palos Hills. Marty Strus is in seventh year at the helm at Stagg and is still searching for his first winning season. Strus reiterated much of what Ortiz and Williams said post-game about their goals.

“They are very driven,” he said. “Not satisfied with anything. And they want to keep going.”

“Our ultimate goal is to win a conference championship; something that has not been done here at Stagg. We want to continue to compete and be at our best heading into the playoffs. It’s a long, long season. We have a long way to go.

Stagg (6-1 as of Dec. 4) bounced back December 2 with a 52-41 win over Minooka. Their next game is a home game against Lincoln Way Central at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, December 8.

1 Comment

  1. Jeanne T on December 8, 2023 at 11:55 am

    Great story Xavier!



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