Boys Basketball: Sandburg finding their footing under new coach John Daniels
By Steve Millar
Trailing by 19 points at halftime against a highly touted Lemont team, Sandburg did not back down.
The Eagles rallied behind senior guards Ryan McPolin and Ty Binns but fell just short in a 58-55 loss on Nov. 30 in Orland Park.
“I was happy we came back,” McPolin said. “We were all on the same page and had energy. We work hard every single day so it felt good to see everyone play together and play hard.”
McPolin poured in 21 points and pulled down six rebounds to lead the Eagles. He hit four 3-pointers. Binns added 13 points, including 11 in the second half, and five rebounds.
“Ryan and Ty, we’re looking for a lot from them,” Sandburg coach John Daniels said. “I think they both have the potential to be very good players. They did great. They responded. That second unit, when we flipped, a couple of those juniors did great and responded, too.”
Daniels, who coached Stagg for 14 seasons before stepping down in 2017, is in first year across District 230 at Sandburg.
He said the Eagles are a work in progress.
“You have 12 practices at the beginning of the season and then you play four games right away that first week,” he explained. “Even in practice (on Nov. 29), we were still working on basic motion drills. All the guys are working hard in practice.”
Daniels played all 15 guys on his roster and frequently made “line changes,” subbing in five players at once.
“The effort was good,” he said. “We’re playing a lot of guys because I’m new and I’m trying to figure out what we’ve got. We’re trying to teach a system, man in motion, and I think everybody’s got to get a chance.
“As the season goes on, that number’s going to go down to maybe seven or eight guys playing regularly. Guys are going to play themselves into roles. The first year’s always hard. You’re trying to figure out what you’ve got and what you can do.”
Trailing 35-16 at halftime, the Eagles scored the first seven points of the third quarter to start their comeback. Binns had four of those points.
Sandburg outscored Lemont 17-7 in the third. Will Dababneh, David Vargas and McPolin hit 3-pointers in the quarter, with McPolin nailing a 35-footer at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 42-33.
“I know I can score the ball,” McPolin said. “It’s just about my confidence and not getting down on myself.”
Binns caught fire in the fourth quarter, scoring seven points. His 3-point play with 5 minutes, 30 seconds left pulled Sandburg within 46-42.
Lemont responded and extended the lead to 54-44 before McPolin came up with a 3-point play and James White hit a 3-pointer to get Sandburg within 54-50 with 23 seconds left.
Lemont sealed the game at the free-throw line. Rokas Castillo’s two free throws with eight seconds left pushed the lead to 58-53.
White finished with eight points for the Eagles.
Sandburg (1-5) closed out the week with a 73-46 loss to Bradley-Bourbonnais on Dec. 3. Binns led the way with 11 points.
McPolin believes the Eagles have plenty of reasons to feel optimistic after the tight loss to Lemont, but knows there’s still more to work on.
“I think we need to limit the turnovers and move the ball, make one more pass,” McPolin said. “We need to close out better defensively, rebound better and really just keep improving on defense.
“We’re all learning a new system. Once we master it, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
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