O’Brien: Morning glory for Oak Park

Oak Park's Cameron Gross (14) goes up for an easy two points against St. Charles North. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

The amazing depth of this year’s Pontiac Holiday Tournament led to a rather strange opener. No. 13 Oak Park and St. Charles North, teams with a combined 17-2 record, found themselves playing each other in a first round game at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

High school kids and early mornings often lead to unpredictable results, so Huskies coach Matt Maloney wasn’t going to leave things to chance. He had Oak Park run through pregame warmups and a first quarter scrimmage at 9 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday.

“It had an effect,” Oak Park senior Cam Gross said. “Coach said the 9 a.m. practices would determine how the game would go and it paid off.”

The Huskies won 55-48. They jumped out to a 15-5 lead in the first quarter.

Gross scored 16 points and Jared Scott added 16 points and nine rebounds for Oak Park (10-0)

Scott is 6-6, 210 pounds and Gross is 6-5, 205 pounds. That kind of size and bulk is unusual at this level. The North Stars (8-2) had difficulty dealing with it on both ends of the floor.

“We came out with good energy,” Maloney said. “I think we did a nice job of guarding some of the more sophisticated offensive sets we’ve seen all year.”

St. Charles North shot just 19-for-54 from the field. Luke Scheffers scored 12 and Kyle King added 10 points.

“We’ve been talking about finishing games and really stepping on someone’s throat when you have them on the ropes,” Maloney said. “Then we come in and we miss a dunk that we should lay in. We have a bad turnover, we don’t block out. It’s just little things. That is going to lead to a 20 point loss to Simeon.”

The Wolverines, who demolished Plainfield North in the first round, will be Oak Park’s opponent in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

“I am very excited,” Gross said. “This is our first time playing Simeon down here and I know the atmosphere is going to be crazy. This would really put us on the map. It would show that anybody can be beat at any given time.”

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