City/Suburban Hoops Report Three-Pointer: Ian Brown’s big game for New Trier, Lemont’s Castillo twins and sectional issues
The attention-grabbing headline is this: Ian Brown drained a ridiculous 12 three-pointers in one game.
The beauty of the shooting exhibition Ian Brown of New Trier displayed last Saturday in a win over Rolling Meadows is all the boxes it checked off in describing any monumental performance.
The attention-grabbing headline is this: Brown drained a ridiculous 12 three-pointers in one game.
But the circumstances surrounding the performance — and how he went about it — shined beyond just the made threes.
First, Brown never missed. Well, he did miss two. Even those were, literally, both in and out. But it wasn’t as if Brown fired up 20-plus three-point attempts to get his 12 makes.
Then you think about those numbers for a moment. Even if he had 20 or 24 attempts, he still would have been shooting above 50 percent from three. He finished an unheard-of 12 of 14 from beyond the arc.
And then you add this little nugget? Brown entered the game 4 of 20 from the three-point line on the season.
Second, Brown didn’t bury his 12 threes against some rag-tag, no-name team. This was an unbeaten, state-ranked Rolling Meadows team with size, length and arguably the best player in the state, Cameron Christie.
Third, Brown did so in a game that mattered. This wasn’t some lopsided game where the threes didn’t even matter. Each of his threes was part of a major comeback in what was a dramatic, down-to-the-wire 65-64 win.
It was Brown who brought New Trier back from 15 points down. And it was Brown who gave the Trevians their first lead of the game with 1:30 to play — on a three-pointer, of course — which was his fifth three of the fourth quarter.
Brown admits he felt different on Saturday. He said he put pressure on himself the night before when the Trevians faced Glenbrook South. The night before he poured in 36 points he didn’t score a point.
He told himself coming into the Rolling Meadows game to just relax and go out and play.
“I had a different mindset for this game,” Brown said of the Rolling Meadows matchup. “I played relaxed and composed. And once a few went in … It became a different feeling. It felt like every single one was going to go in. I didn’t feel like I was going to miss.”
Brown also was quick to give credit where credit was due. He added there were several threes where he was wide open, thanks to his teammates.
“My teammates did a great job getting me the ball, setting the screens, getting me open,” Brown said. “A lot of those [threes] were with me pretty open.”
Without TV contracts, multiple stations and networks televising games, or ESPN to show the highlights, there are individual high school basketball games when you are fortunate to be in the gym. Otherwise, you wouldn’t see what and how it all transpired.
Last Saturday at South Elgin was one of those high school games.
Castillo twins elevating Lemont
It was a record-breaking season for Lemont a year ago. Coach Rick Runaas’ team set a school record for wins with 27, won the program’s first sectional championship in 46 years, and nearly took down Simeon in the supersectional.
Lemont basketball was one of the biggest stories of the 2021-22 high school basketball season.
With virtually every key piece returning, Lemont was destined to be a preseason top 10 team when this season began.
But the biggest name, Nojus Indrusaities, left this past summer. Following two seasons of big numbers, impressive win totals and a lofty status among college coaches, the 6-3 junior headed to St. Rita.
But anyone who followed Lemont closely knew what made Lemont tick. The heart and soul of this successful group are Matas and Rokas Castillo. It’s more than the fun flare these two play with; the twin brothers instill an infectious winning spirit in any team they play on.
“They lead by example every day through their incredible work ethic,” Runaas said. “It’s like nothing else I’ve ever experienced as a coach.”
Runaas says no matter the game, big or small, or the practice, light or intense, the Castillo brothers are “full go” all the time.
So it’s no wonder Lemont is keeping pace with last year’s team, even without Nojus Indrusaitis. Lemont is rolling, off to a 9-0 start behind the two veteran senior guards who are headed to Division II Wisconsin-Parkside next year.
Rokas Castillo is averaging 21 points while shooting over 40 percent from the three-point line. He chips in three assists and three steals. Matas Castillo is at 16 points, four assists and four steals.
With a win this Friday over TF South, Lemont will head to the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament at York unbeaten, while the circle-the-date showdown with league heavyweight Hillcrest is on Jan. 17.
Come on, IHSA, why can’t we just tweak the sectional assignments a little bit from year to year? When it makes sense to do so, can’t we let common sense prevail?
There are years when there are some wholesale changes to basketball sectional assignments. Then it remains status quo.
A case in point is the two sectionals in the north suburbs that feed into the Hoffman Estates Super. While there isn’t a sectional host named just yet for either sectional, from a team standpoint they remain the same.
Rolling Meadows, in the northwest suburbs and from the Mid-Suburban League, has once again been sent east to join the North Shore programs and perennial basketball stalwarts Evanston, New Trier, Loyola and Glenbrook South. Add ranked Glenbrook North and it’s another loaded sectional.
How easy it would have been to balance out these two sectionals. It makes sense geographically and from a basketball standpoint.
Don’t tell me it’s geography. I’m looking at an old IHSA map of school locations as I type. Waukegan, Zion-Benton and Warren, the Lake County schools that hug Lake Michigan, are sent west to play in a sectional with a whole mess of Mid-Suburban League teams.
Again, it’s an easy fix in tinkering with the obvious. There are no major geographical changes or massive travel involved, and we know what basketball teams are primed for big years. Do a tiny bit of homework as you prepare for the release of sectional assignments.
There is no harm in balancing out sectionals to some degree when geographically possible. And keeping Rolling Meadows, a loaded team in the northwest suburbs led by Big Ten recruit Cameron Christie, in the sectional it should have been in all along, would have done the trick.
The complaint will be — or the question that will be asked — is when and why to make arbitrary decisions that appear to be on a whim?
The answer: Who cares? Just do it. Each year. Here, there, wherever. Mix it up where you see fit. Do schools and coaches complain? So be it. They’re complaining now anyway.