Boys basketball using unity to have a strong start to the season

Moaath Joudeh, Contributing Writer

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On Tuesday, November 21st, 2017 the senior basketball players at Carl Sandburg High School began the campaign of their final season of high school basketball against Morgan Park Academy in an effort to begin a season that they believe will never be forgotten.

After a mediocre season last year of finishing with a record of 13-13, guard/forward Sami Ismail and guard Jason Pygon headed into the season as the team’s leaders and two of the best players with high expectations for themselves, but more importantly the team as a whole.

Coach Todd Allen this year wants the boys to go out and just play the way they’re used too and just “ball out and just score the rock.” The boys come into the season with high expectations, as they will be competing with one of the best conferences in all of of Illinois this season including powerhouses such as Bolingbrook, Lincoln Way East, and Homewood Flossmoor.

Over a long offseason, especially with a first round exit in the postseason for the Eagles last year, the boys had a long summer. Most high school basketball players who play a long season and finish it with a mediocre record would not care too much to work harder and get better, most would go home and get rest, relax, and chill with friends. This was not the case with this group of guys, especially not for guard/forward Sami Ismail.

Ismail said, “When I first played as an 8th grader, I finished the season with 10 points total. I was probably the worst player on that team, yet now I truly believe I’m a top scorer on this Sandburg Squad. I put in the work this offseason and worked the hardest I ever have and I truly believe I’m reaching my potential. The guys have all bought into this system and we all believe that this will be one of the best seasons Sandburg Basketball has had in the last couple years ” After hearing this, it is evident that the guys have put in the work and are ready to put that work to use.

Every team has their own unique thing about them that most people are not aware of, watching this team over an extended period of time the strong bond and passion to play with each other becomes clear.
Pygon said, “Something we do that people are probably not aware of is that most of us have a travel team that we play for outside of school to build our chemistry.”

The travel team consists of multiple players on the Sandburg team including Jason and Jake Pygon, Jack Mcnulty, and Sami Ismail. By playing with each other outside of school, they have gained chemistry and know how each other play which is real important for any team to succeed.

The competitive nature of this Eagles team is something else to say the least. Not only do the guys compete on the court, but they compete in the classroom. Most of the players prove the stereotype of athletes being careless about school wrong. Education plays just as big of a role in forward Jack McNulty’s life as basketball.

McNulty said, “Whereas basketball is a big part of my life, education will always be the most important thing for me, and it’ll always come before anything, including basketball.”

He has taken honors and “AP” courses throughout his years at Sandburg and also makes sure that he’s competitive in the classroom as he strives for good grades and a good overall GPA.

It is yet to be seen if all the perseverance, time, and hard work that was put in by the team will come together for the guys this season and lead them to an accomplished fourth and final season. The season begins in less than two weeks and at the end of the day no matter how the season goes, this group of guys have nothing to be ashamed of as they have showed nothing less than 100% effort and putting their hearts on the line each and every game and will continue to do so, no matter the result.

The team is currently 7-1 including a last second win over rival Stagg.

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