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‘Robbie Buckets’ does it again as Oak Forest takes down Lane

There is a universal appreciation for Robbie Avila’s game that is uncommon. Opposing coaches, referees and fans marvel at the way Oak Forest’s 6-8 senior plays basketball. 

Oak Forest’s Robbie Avila (21)controls the ball against Lane.
Oak Forest’s Robbie Avila (21)controls the ball against Lane.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

There is a universal appreciation for Oak Forest senior Robbie Avila’s game that is uncommon. Opposing coaches, referees and fans marvel at the way the 6-8 forward plays basketball.

His mind always appears to be a few steps ahead of everyone else’s on the court. And he has the skills to pull off his vision.

‘‘It’s amazing how he runs our team,’’ Bengals coach Matt Manzke said. ‘‘He brings the whole program to another level. There’s been multiple times this year where he’s suggested that we need to do something different on the court. And we do it, and it’s the right thing to do.’’

Avila, an Indiana State recruit, had 30 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and four steals in Oak Forest’s 80-60 victory Saturday against Lane in the Team Rose Classic at Mount Carmel.

That’s a typical stat line for Avila.

‘‘I could tell that he knew all of our sets,’’ Lane coach Nick LoGalbo said. ‘‘He’s just a really impressive kid.’’

Avila has a lot of basketball ahead of him, but don’t be surprised to see him coaching at some point in the future.

‘‘I’ve picked up a thing or two,’’ Avila said. ‘‘I’ve been playing basketball forever. I enjoy coaching and helping teammates out, so it might be something I think about in the future.’’

The Bengals (9-0) are off to an impressive start this season. Avila was expected to be one of the best players in the state, but the team around him is much better than anticipated.

‘‘Over the summer, we struggled a little bit; everybody knows that,’’ Avila said. ‘‘We got in there in the fall as a team, and we’ve been working hard. And it shows. We are really committed to keeping people out of the paint and getting on the ball [defensively] on the catch and not allowing any easy shots.’’

Oak Forest was excellent defensively against Lane (8-2) and only turned the ball over six times.

‘‘We’ve got some athletes and some smart kids that understand what they’re supposed to do and where they are supposed to be,’’ Manzke said. ‘‘So when you have smart guys in the right spot and a couple of guys that can create a little bit of chaos, you have something.’’

Oak Forest’s Fred Robinson IV (5) takes the ball to the basket past Lane.
Oak Forest’s Fred Robinson IV (5) takes the ball to the basket past Lane.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Senior guard Fred Robinson has taken his game to another level this season. He had 28 points and eight rebounds for the Bengals. He’s a strong guard who excels at getting to the rim.

‘‘Fred is the real deal,’’ Manzke said. ‘‘He’s been consistently terrific so far this season.’’

Senior Taurean Mickens added 12 points and three-year starter Drew Pagnusat five points and four rebounds for Oak Forest.

‘‘Everybody knows their niche on the team, and they have bought into it,’’ Manzke said. ‘‘That’s always the key to being successful.’’

Robinson admitted he is a little surprised his team is unbeaten this far into the season.

‘‘We’ve come a long way,’’ said Robinson, a William Woods recruit. ‘‘We came together. It’s all about energy. We all share the ball, and if we keep playing as a team, it will all be good.’’

Joseph Perona and Stephen Goonan each scored 12 points for Lane.