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Grayslake Central players ready to rebound from 23-loss hoops season

Coach Brian Moe figures have his Ram basketball program back upswing after scuffling 2012-2013 season. | SUN-TIMES MEDIA FILE PHOTO

Coach Brian Moe figures to have his Ram basketball program back on the upswing after a scuffling 2012-2013 season. | SUN-TIMES MEDIA FILE PHOTO

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Last year: 5-23 (2-10 in Fox Valley Fox); lost to Lakes 72-54 in 3A regional semifinal

Entering last season, the Rams had won at least 20 games in six of the previous eight seasons and had won four regional titles in five years. They had also won the Fox Valley Fox three times in five years and entered the season as the defending Fox Valley Conference champions, having defeated Huntley in the game that matched the division winners.

The 5-23 record they finished the 2012-13 season with was their worst result since going 1-26 in 2000-01, Tim Bowen’s first season at Grayslake Central.

Last year the Rams returned one star shooter in Danny Reed and had almost no other returning experience to speak of.

This year, they return the experience, but not the star shooter.

There will be many teams with taller players than Grayslake Central, and teams with better ball-handlers and better shooters, but the Rams will put a lineup of tough-nosed kids on the floor who will battle every game. They have a number of players who can do a lot of different things, and that should help them adjust when one part of their game gets shut down on any given night.

Returners with starting minutes last year — SR PG Joey Mudd, SR G Malcolm Reed SR wing Jacob Vargo, SR F Alex Lennartz.

Updated: July 23, 2013 6:11AM

Senior Alex Lennartz is a quarterback on the school’s football team, but he’s also a key returning player on the basketball team at Grayslake Central High School.

This is what he had to say about last hoops season, when the Rams fell off the map with 23 losses in 28 games.

“We were all mad. I think we came into last season thinking, ‘We’re Grayslake Central, we’re going to have another good year.’ Part of what we’re doing this summer is making sure that doesn’t happen again.”

And so it begins for the Green/White, a basketball program that’s used to success and now must bounce back from a season without it.

“We’ve really been competing a lot better than we’ve been used to. Just getting after it and competing against other teams has been great,” said veteran coach Brian Moe. “Our rebounding has been surprisingly better than I thought it was going to be, because we’re not very big.

“It’s still early, even though the summer is almost over for us. I like what I’ve seen from the guys They’re a close group. They like each other. They’ve been fun to work with.”

The one player not around is Danny Reed, who was the team’s best player last year and has graduated.

“Alex (Lennartz) and Joey (Mudd) started most of the games last year. Malcolm (Reed) started a lot. Jacob Vargo started a lot. We have four kids back that started at least half the season,” Moe said. “Sam Ruhlman is a sophomore who was on varsity as a freshman after winter break last year. We have some good experience coming back. We have another sophomore, Jack Beckman who is up on varsity right now.”

All in all, it’s an upbeat situation.

“It’s been a good summer. We have a lot of returners, a lot of experienced players coming back,” said Lennartz. “We just have to get used to not having one main guy to provide our scoring.”

Vargo is in total agreement.

“We have to have other guys step up and contribute to the scoring, and we have to knock down more shots than we have been,” he said. “It definitely puts a focus on execution. We can’t afford to have guys missing layups.

“Everybody is in the weight room and putting in extra work,” he added. “We have guys who are going to get after it, who want to go out there and compete.”

Without Reed to carry the offense, Moe sees this year’s team as one in which anyone can contribute on a given night.

“I don’t think we’re going to have that (one) guy this year. I hope somebody develops into that, but I think we’re looking at probably four guys with 10, 11, 12 (points),” the coach said. “Depending on the night and the matchups, it could be different guys, but we’re definitely looking for somebody who can step up, knock down shots, and play defense for us.”

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