Secret Santa brings out the best in the Highland Park girls basketball team.
This annual tradition extends through the holidays and this year concluded Sunday evening at a team dinner. The girls presented each other with a third and final present and revealed who was each other’s Secret Santa.
Previous presents were delivered through messenger (a teacher or friend) or dropped off at a house clandestinely.
“We spend so much of our time together doing basketball-related things and it’s nice to see each other in a different setting,” senior point guard Sarah Glazer said.
Added junior guard Lizzy LoGrande, “These type of activities really bring you closer and that shows on the court.”
This helps explain why the Giants have maintained great chemistry despite a 5-12 start to the season through Sunday. The overall record is somewhat mitigated by their 3-1 mark in CSL North play.
“You wouldn’t know our record was 5-12 by watching the kids on a daily basis,” Highland Park coach Jolie Bechtel said. “This is a close group and to the kids credit, they work really hard every day.”
Following a disappointing showing at the Mundelein Holiday Classic, the girls had a couple of days off that stretched into a week because of the cold weather. This break from basketball may have been a good thing as it gave the Giants a chance to recharge for the 2014 portion of the season.
On Friday night, the Giants posted a 52-31 victory over Niles North. Highland Park held Niles North without a field goal in the third quarter and broke open what was an eight-point game at halftime.
“We had a week off and we had time to let go of everything and come into the new year with a new mindset and attitude,” LoGrande said.
The challenge now is for the Giants to play at a high level every game. That means more consistent execution, particularly in nonconference games.
“We need to change our attitude toward nonconference games; we should treat every game like it’s Deerfield,” LoGrande said.
When the Giants have had success on offense it’s because of their balanced scoring. For several years, Highland Park could rely on the now-graduated Lena Munzer (playing at Yale) to shoulder the scoring burden.
This season, although Glazer and LoGrande each score in double figures, everyone on the court has to contribute offensively.
“One game someone might have no points and then be the leading scorer the next,” LoGrande said. “Everyone can play that role for us.”
In part because of the way they’ve played in spurts, the Giants believe they are ready to start winning games on a consistent basis.
“It’s taken us a little longer but we’re getting there,” LoGrande said. “We have the talent to improve our record.”