Preps Talk

Metea Valley seeks to establish its identity

610762.png

Metea Valley seeks to establish its identity

Ryan Solomon and Kenny Obendorf are proud members of the first senior class at brand-spanking-new, state-of-the-art Metea Valley High School in Aurora. They are anxious and determined to set a standard for others to follow, to establish a tradition where there is none.

They were freshmen at Waubonsie Valley but were aware that they would move to Metea Valley as sophomores. Everything at the 124.7 million complex was new...teachers, 2,400 students, gym, fieldhouse, weight room, swimming pool, energy, excitement, expectations, school song, school colors, nickname.

Everything but tradition. If you don't inherit it, as at schools like Joliet Catholic or Mount Carmel or Thornton or Wheaton Warrenville South, you have to build it...game by game, year by year.

"Not many people have the opportunity to start off new," Solomon said. "We have the opportunity to start our own tradition. What we do this year will set the tone for future years to come in basketball. Knowing we are competing for a new school and having all our classmates behind us creates a fun atmosphere."

Winning is fun. Metea Valley is 8-0 after Friday's 68-58 victory over Bartlett and Saturday's 55-43 victory over South Elgin. Obendorf scored 22 points against Bartlett and Solomon had 15 against South Elgin. The Mustangs play at Neuqua Valley Friday, then compete at the Hinsdale South Holiday Tournament.

"I knew we had a chance to be 8-0," coach Bob Vozza said. "Expectations are high. Each and every day these seniors are building what Metea is and shaping what the program is going to be.

"We put them in big-game situations last year with East Aurora, Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley and they learned to handle pressure. They are building a tradition. This is their team, the first senior group. In the future, we'll be talking about them to younger kids. Their motivation is to build success that others will be building to achieve."

With all five starters and four others returning from last year's squad, Vozza had a solid foundation to build on. Obendorf, a 6-2 senior guard, averages 15 points per game. Solomon, a 6-1 senior guard, averages 12. Milan Bojanic, a 6-4 senior, averages 13.

Other major contributors are 5-10 senior point guard TreSean Mackey, 6-4 junior Sean Davis, 5-10 senior LaShawn Cargo and 6-2 senior Raysean Parker.

"Our strength is pressure man-to-man defense," said Vozza, whose team forced 16 turnovers in the second half against Bartlett. "We can match up with a lot of people."

"It was tough coming in...no upperclassmen, no tradition. But it's just basketball," said Obendorf, who carries a 4.5 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and scored 35 (out of 36) on his ACT. "A lot of us have been doing this for a long time. We felt we had the talent to compete.

"Our chemistry is a big thing. All of us like each other. We get along. We have built up a trust in everyone else. When we get in big-game situations, we know that everyone is working together and on the same page and doing what they have to do to help the team succeed. We've been in close games this year and haven't panicked."

But Obendorf and Solomon, who played on the sophomore team at Waubonsie Valley as freshmen before moving to Metea Valley, agree that athleticism also gives the Mustangs an edge.

"We enjoy the fast pace of basketball," Obendorf said. "We can play against any team in the area. The difference is our athleticism on defense gives us an ability to make stops and get up and down the court."

"We have so much energy," Solomon said. "We have a lot of fast kids, moving at a fast pace. We excel at going up and down the court. We feed off the energy we create with one big play. All of us are athletes. Not many teams have as much athleticism as we do."

Vozza, 39, is as excited as his players with the challenge of breaking in a new school and establishing a new identity and a new tradition. A Waubonsie Valley graduate of 1990, he played basketball under Spike Grosshuesch on teams that went 50-6 in two years and reached the sectional finals. So he knew something about winning.

He tried to coach other sports, including baseball and soccer, but always came back to basketball. He recalled his experiences at Waubonsie Valley and his trips to the state finals in Champaign and Peoria. "I fell in love with the atmosphere," he said.

"Why basketball? It is one of the high school sports that generates fan support and excitement in the high school and community," he said. "It gives kids the same experience you had."

After graduating from Aurora University in 1995, he coached and taught at Geneva, at a middle school in Aurora, Waubonsie Valley for one year, then to Neuqua Valley as an assistant coach, teacher and guidance counselor from 1997 to 2009. When the job at Metea Valley opened up, he applied and was hired.

"I'm excited to start from the ground up, a new school and a new staff," he said. "I saw growing pains there. But I learned how to build a foundation."

Vozza was allowed to handpick his staff--former Geneva head coach Tim Pease, who was an assistant at Waubonsie Valley; Andrew Browning, who was an assistant at Geneva; Matt Wolpole, who came from Waubonsie Valley; Pat Brusveen, a former player at Neuqua Valley; Grian Giovanini, who was an assistant at Neuqua Valley; and Patrick Grady, who came from Maine West.

He formed his philosophy "by taking bits and pieces" from Grosshuesch and coach Todd Sutton at Neuqua Valley.

"Honestly, we had mixed feelings coming over to a new school, leaving the kids at Waubonsie Valley," Obendorf said. "But it is interesting to go to a new school and start something new. It is a challenge to start something new. There is a lot of energy here.

"We were 15-13 in our first year. We played better than others expected but we felt we could have a winning record. It was a matter of getting experience in big games and pulling out wins in the end. We're all excited about the school, starting something new."

IHSA Preps Girls Basketball AP Poll

ap-illinois-hs-girls-basketball-rankings-slide.png
AP

IHSA Preps Girls Basketball AP Poll

Here are the rankings of Illinois high school girls basketball teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters with rank, team, first-place votes, record and total points.


Class 4A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Evanston Township (5) 19-2 68 3
2. Benet (2) 21-2 61 1
3. Edwardsville 18-1 58 2
4. Maine West 20-3 45 4
5. Marist 21-3 37 6
6. (tie) Lincoln Way West 21-2 37 5
7. Whitney Young 18-6 25 7
8. Libertyville 18-4 22 8
9.  Homewood-Flossmoor 18-5 12 9
10. Hersey 20-6 6 NR

Others receiving votes: Joliet West 4. O'Fallon 3. York 3. Fremd 2. Maine South 1. Bolingbrook 1

Class 3A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Morton (9) 25-0 90 1
2. Montini 22-4 70 3
3. Simeon 22-2 68 4
4. Richwoods 21-5 60 5
5. Bethalto Civic Memorial 22-3 46 2
6. Geneseo 20-3 39 T7
7. Peoria Central 19-3 35 6
8. (tie) Kankakee 22-4 32 T7
9.  Decatur MacArthur 21-2 17 9
10. Rock Island 19-7 14 NR

Others receiving votes: Kenwood 8. Riverside-Brookfield 6. Washington 3. Grayslake Central 3. Fenwick 1. Mattoon 1. Burlington Central 1. Rich South 1.

Class 2A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Paris  (9) 25-0 99 1
2. Knoxville 26-1 83 2
3. (tie) Quincy Notre Dame 19-2 73 4
4. Carterville 21-2 49 3
5.  Riverdale 18-3 48 7
6. Chicago Marshall (1) 12-8 41 6
7. Harrisburg 23-3 27 5
8. Carlinville 20-3 26 10
9. Pleasant Plains 17-3 24 NR
10. Illini West (Carthage) 20-4 23 NR

Others receiving votes: Teutopolis 13. Petersburg PORTA 10. Normal University 8. Marshall 7. Lisle 6. Hamilton County 3. Rock Falls 3. Stillman Valley 2. Eureka 2. Nashville 1. Pana 1. Eldorado 1.

Class 1A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Lewistown (5) 24-1 86 2
2. Amboy (4) 22-1 83 1
3.  Lanark Eastland 23-3 62 4
4.  Jacksonville Routt 20-2 61 5
5. Princeville 24-3 45 T8
6. Hope Academy 17-2 43 7
7.  Brimfield 21-3 40 3
8. Aquin 20-6 33 6
9.  (tie) Altamont 20-3 18 10
10. Aurora Christian 21-3 13 NR

Others receiving votes: Shiloh 4. Colfax Ridgeview 3. Father McGivney Catholic 2. Illini Central 1. Galena 1.

Forget a Yolmer Sanchez return to White Sox, he reportedly has deal with Giants

Forget a Yolmer Sanchez return to White Sox, he reportedly has deal with Giants

The dream many fans had of Yolmer Sanchez returning to the South Side for the 2020 season might be over.

According to reports, Sanchez has a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants. Sanchez, who won an American League Gold Glove at second base last season with the White Sox, reportedly turned down a couple major league offers to compete for the everyday second baseman's job in San Francisco.

Sanchez was a fan favorite during his tenure with the White Sox, a positive clubhouse presence who earned a reputation as a fun-loving teammate through his various on-field antics, including repeated pranks involving the dugout's Gatorade bucket. He also proved himself to be one of the game's finest defensive infielders, a valuable skill even if his offensive production rarely lived up to the same standards. Last season, as the starting second baseman, Sanchez hit .252/.318/.321 with a pair of home runs and 43 RBIs.

Even after the White Sox non-tendered him earlier this offseason, team brass spoke positively of him, an indication that the door might not be closed on a reunion. But the White Sox infield is fast filling up with long-term pieces. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada had huge seasons on the left side in 2019, and Nick Madrigal, one of the top-rated prospects in baseball, is expected to reach the major leagues in the early portions of the 2020 season. Madrigal, the White Sox first-round draft pick in 2018, had an excellent offensive season in the minors last year and carries a similar defensive reputation as Sanchez. Whether Madrigal will make the Opening Day roster remains to be seen — it sounds unlikely — but he's expected to be the team's starting second baseman for the bulk of the 2020 campaign.

Given that crunch on the infield, Sanchez, even after his Gold Glove win, seemed destined for a reserve role had he returned to the South Side. Who knows if the White Sox were one of the teams that extended a major league contract offer to Sanchez, but there didn't seem to be room for him to have a starting job with this group. He can at least compete for such a role with the Giants.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.