Orr sophomore Brian Hernandez is pretty much a complete unknown to everyone but the city’s hardcore basketball devotees.
That will start to change after his performance on Saturday in the Bob Hambric Classic at T.F. North in Calumet City.
Hernandez scored 16 points in the No. 23 Spartans’ 59-45 win over Homewood-Flossmoor. The point total isn’t as important as the context. Hernandez stepped up in the game’s key moment.
The Vikings cut Orr’s lead to 41-40 early in the fourth quarter. Hernandez stole the ball from an H-F guard and converted a layup. On the next possession he made a three-pointer that rebuilt Orr’s lead to 46-40 and seemed to drain the life out of Homewood-Flossmoor.
“We picked it up on defense after they scored those couple of baskets,” Hernandez said. “After that I just had to make the big shot. That’s my roll on this team, make shots and stick people on defense.”
Hernandez was 4-for-10 from three-point range and grabbed four rebounds. He doesn’t start yet, but is the first man off the bench.
“He’s a really, really good player,” Orr coach Lou Adams said. “He’s cocky. I’m ok with that because he plays hard. He’s young so he’s going to make mistakes.”
The Vikings (9-4) demolished No. 12 Joliet West on Friday night. Dealing with Orr’s ferocious defense less than 24 hours later proved to be too much. H-F turned the ball over 18 times.
“We knew they didn’t have very good guards,” Adams said. “We scouted them a couple of times so we knew if we pushed up on their guards we would have success.”
Orr was without starting point guard and senior leader Bryon Choice. He’s missed the past few games with an ankle sprain but is expected back next week.
“He’s a great player and we really miss him, I’ve tried to come out and play even harder for the team since he’s been out,” Orr senior Devon King said.
King scored 13 points for the Spartans (10-2) and highly-regarded sophomore Raekwon Drake added 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
“We don’t really have too many talented players so we have to come in each and every night and play hard on defense,” King said. “We live off of defense. We frustrated them, guarded them full court the whole game. It made them mad.”
Kendric Pryor led Homewood-Flossmoor with 18 points and six rebounds. Trelan Morrow added nine points.
“We’re glad we got to play Orr, we need to learn how to play against teams like that,” Homewood-Flossmoor coach Marc Condotti said. “They played real hard, credit to them. They came out and got us, even when we got it back to 41-40 they raised it to another level and we didn’t match that.”
Orr was an afterthought to some after dropping into the White Division this season. The Spartans nearly knocked off St. Joseph last month, which opened some eyes. Adams felt his team would get better as the season went on, he’s playing a ton of sophomores. Orr seem to be ahead of schedule.
“I don’t know how far we can go really,” Adams siad. “I’m not sure if I will have all the sophomores on the varsity team for the city tournament or keep them down to play with the sophomores. But I know that we can play anybody in the city tough.”