Curie senior DaJuan Gordon, a Kansas State recruit, is one of the few high-major recruits in Illinois. He’s not the usual Public League superstar, though.
Gordon played a complementary role with the Condors last season. He was the best player on the team by March, but he still is learning how to be the leader of a highly ranked team.
‘‘It’s a lot of pressure, but God put me on the earth to play like this,’’ Gordon said.
He’s off to a solid start this season. He had 13 points and six rebounds in No. 8 Curie’s 62-53 victory Thursday against host Orr.
The Spartans started the game with passion, motivated by what they perceive as a massive snub. Orr didn’t make the Sun-Times’ preseason Super 25 rankings despite winning the last two Class 2A state titles. The Spartans graduated seven key players from the 2017-18 team.
‘‘I just told our guys it was going to be a tough fight,’’ Curie coach Mike Oliver said. ‘‘Just play through the first five to six minutes [because] they will be on an emotional high. It’s a tough environment. I’m scared…so I knew how these guys would feel.’’
Orr (2-2) opened a 17-4 lead. Senior Tujautae Williams, a 6-6 guard, scored 11 points in the first quarter. He’s long, athletic and nearly impossible to stop when he gets up a head of steam and heads to the rim.
‘‘Either take a charge or get out of the way,’’ Curie’s Ramean Hinton said.
The Condors cut the Spartans’ lead to 40-35 by halftime, then dominated the third quarter.
‘‘We knew when we settled down we could put some pressure on their guards and force them into turnovers,’’ Oliver said. ‘‘At the beginning of the game, we just let them freelance and didn’t put enough pressure on the ball.’’
Hinton led Curie (4-0) with 15 points and six rebounds. Junior Justin Harmon added 10 points and six rebounds.
Senior guard Trevon Hamilton, however, might have been the difference in the game. He was able to settle down the Condors during key moments.
‘‘Hamilton has been around four years,’’ Oliver said. ‘‘He’s not a big name, but he does all the little things for you. He doesn’t turn the ball over, and he runs the team.”
Tujuatae Williams had 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists for Orr before fouling out with 5:49 left. Bogan transfer Greg Outlaw added 10 points and five rebounds and Terry Williams 10 points for the Spartans.
Orr was without Harlan transfer Terrence Ford, who has yet to be cleared by the Chicago Public Schools, and dynamic junior Demarius Splunge, who is injured.