Boys and girls basketball teams hope to return to normalcy

Gavin Ewen, Editor-in-Chief

Last year’s winter sports season only spanned eight weeks. This year, the boys basketball team will play its normal 16-week season, and head coach Nick Oraham said he is ready to get his Grenadiers started. 

“I am looking forward to getting to know the guys and get the full 16 weeks,” Oraham, who is in his fourth year as coach, said. 

Oraham said he hopes this year’s team will use their previous experience at the varsity level to help it improve as a whole. He said he hopes some success at some of the under levels last year will translate into this season.

“I want our team to be seen as tough, fun, hard-working and respected amongst their peers and staff members,” Oraham said.

This year’s team consists mainly of juniors. Oraham said players like Josh Mottley and Garrett Ewen will step up this year. 

Mottley is entering his third year on varsity, while Ewen is entering his second full season. Jaden Alberson leads the senior core, while transfer Bronson Bartuch will bring new elements to the program.

Bartuch hopes to be a big piece on the team, and he says he hopes to bring EG success this season. Bartuch comes over from rival Conant High School.

“The change from Conant to Elk Grove has been really good,” Bartuch said. “I feel comfortable being at this school even though I’m new because I’ve made great friends here and have a great relationship with the basketball team and teachers.”

Bartuch said his off-season training has made him better in both the physical and mental areas of the game. 

“I’m most looking forward to playing with new guys that I really get along with and building an even better relationship with the coaches and guys,” Bartuch said. 

As for senior Alberson, he hopes to bring leadership and confidence to a team that’s hungry for success. 

Alberson described that he has gained more confidence within his game this offseason.

“I’m not afraid to take shots as I did last year,” Alberson said. 

And with the shortened season last year, Alberson hopes to make his last season as a Grenadier one to remember.

“What I’m most looking forward to this season is just playing with the boys and having a blast no matter what condition,” Alberson said.

Elk Grove will play a full 31-game schedule including tournaments. The Grens will tip-off their season in the highly competitive Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Tournament at Palatine High School against Elon commit Nick Martinelli and the Glenbrook South Titans. EG will also participate in a Holiday Tournament and a shootout on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

“We need to continue learning and growing everyday,” Oraham said.

Girls basketball

Jennifer Buxton wants her players to have a certain identity when playing in the Elk Grove High School girls basketball program. 

That identity consists of hard work and the ability to push through adversity.

“I think those two characteristics help you beyond the basketball court,” Buxton said. “Those are two things high school athletics should do.”

Buxton also described the idea of commitment to the program and how it plays a factor in team chemistry leading into a season.

“If you’re going to commit, do it right,” Buxton said.

When open gyms began last month for girls basketball, Buxton was excited for the opportunity to get back to a normal season. 

“We’re definitely excited to have a full schedule and I know the kids are for a full year too,” Buxton said. “We appreciate the opportunities we have to play basketball at the level we play.”

Another point of emphasis from Buxton was the new style of play that the team will incorporate this year. With a very guard-heavy team, Buxton said the Grens want to push the tempo and get a lot of shots up. 

“It’s different from what I’ve coached in the past, and we’re looking forward to trying new things,” Buxton said.

Senior guard Lili Duckmann will fill in a bigger leadership role this season.

“I hope to step up into a leadership position on the team and help bring energy on and off the floor,” Duckmann said. 

With last year being the Covid-shortened season, the Grens only played conference games. Duckmann said she won’t take that limited experience for granted.

“I will use those experiences to learn to go with the flow and deal with adversity,” Duckmann said. 

One thing Duckmann said she’s excited about this season is the return of combo nights. Combo nights are where both girls and boys varsity basketball teams play back-to-back at Elk Grove. 

With the season just weeks away, Buxton is preparing the girls in daily practice with the new style of play and how to compete as a team.

“We’re challenging each other every single day, communicating and being committed,” Buxton said.