Competition from down under

Annie Rogula, Sports Editor

Uncertain expectations overwhelmed South’s varsity boys’ basketball team as they blindly faced off against St. Joseph’s College from Sydney, Australia. With limited knowledge of the opposing team’s competitive status prior to the game, South hoped that their athleticism would hand them yet another victory to their previous record of 7-0, according to junior forward Justin Leszynski. However, after having played seven times over seven days straight, St. Joseph’s players’ fatigue potentially gave South a leg up in the game; overall leading to a win contributing to South’s their current record of 9-0.

Heading into the game, many of South’s players didn’t know what to expect from St. Joseph’s College. Since this is the first time the Australian team has visited South, according to Phil Ralston, head boys’ basketball coach.

“Usually, when you play a game like this you go in completely blind,” Ralston said. “You have no idea who they have, how to prepare for them or what they do. But in this case, we have [fortunately] had a chance to see them play.”

After a 17-hour trip from Australia, Paudie Fleming, director of basketball at St. Joseph’s College, was similarly uncertain of what to expect from the GBS team. Nonetheless, he stated that the exposure to the South team itself would ultimately be beneficial for his players.

“I think it is huge for us to see the standard of basketball that’s out [here],” Fleming said. “One of the attractions of being at Glenbrook South is [the fact that South] has been so successful and has such a good program. Just to expose our boys to that level of basketball I think will really help us as we continue to develop.”

As the game approached, South’s sophomore point guard Cooper Noard looked forward to proving to the South community that the team is not to be messed with.

“This game is kind of important because they are from a different country so it’s a new experience,” Noard said. “We can kind of prove to the community that we are an elite team and it doesn’t matter who we play, we have the ability to win games.”

As this is the last game on St. Joseph’s tour, Australian player senior Charlie Cannon wanted to take in the final game against an American team. To him, it was important that the team appreciates this unique experience that might be the last for most of the boys’ on their team.

“Because it’s our last game, I want to really sink it in, take in the atmosphere, and enjoy it,” Cannon said. “Being able to have this experience probably won’t be able to happen to me or any of the boys again.”

Leszynski agreed that the importance of partaking in this game is not just in the game itself, but also learning about the culture of basketball from the other side of the world.

“I am looking forward to getting to compete against [a team that] very few people in our country will get to play against this year,” Leszynski said. “[I am looking forward to] seeing how the philosophy of basketball is taught elsewhere in the world and compare that to what we do here in the United States.”

Overall this experience was once in a lifetime, according to Ralston, and after winning 65-32 the South team can safely say that this game was worth the Australian team coming to the United States. Moreover, Ralston hopes that this event will be a lasting memory for the members of his team.

“I’m hoping is that this is such a positive experience for these young men that they are able to think back on this 15 or 20 years from now and say ‘Hey how cool was it that we got a chance to play against a team from Sydney, Australia,’” Ralston said.