Highland Park basketball’s season mantra, “Outwork yesterday,” is getting serious run at the 48th Annual Jack Tosh Holiday Classic.
The Giants are one of 32 teams in the York High School-hosted invitational in which participating teams play unique competition for five straight days. And with results not in their favor, the Giants are looking to other goals.
“Our main focus is telling the guys it’s OK to be disappointed; we’re not going to get discouraged,” Highland Park coach Ross Deutsch said. “We’re just going to keep working. .. Our most important game is our next game.
“… It says on the back of our shirts outwork yesterday. If we continue to do that and not be result-oriented and lose ourselves investing in the daily battle, we’ll get results.”
On Day 2, a young Highland Park dropped its second game of the tournament — and ninth straight — with a 72-49 loss to St. Laurence on Tuesday, Dec. 27, in Elmhurst.
Highland Park (3-10) is led by three-year varsity standout Sam Rohn, who was one of two seniors in the starting lineup Tuesday, along with a junior and two sophomores.
One of the sophomores, Simon Moschin, keyed a 7-0 second-quarter run for the Giants which cut an early deficit to 11 points. But the Vikings opened it back up before the half, holding a 37-21 lead at the break and coasting from there.
“I think as a team we have to come together more and communication on the floor,” Rohn said,
“and work harder on defense. We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds and second-chance points.”
The Vikings grabbed 12 offensive rebounds and 24 overall compared to the Giants 4 and 15, respectively.
Deutsch said St. Laurence’s athleticism pushed Highland Park out of its comfort zone.
“I thought we looked good when we did get stops in transition, but give them credit, their quickness took us out of a lot of stuff we wanted to do in the half court game,” he said. “They got us to play their tempo.”
Moschin caught fire early in the second half, connecting on three 3-pointers in the third quarter. He finished the afternoon with four threes, 22 points and 5 assists.
“My teammates were finding me. In the first half, I was playing off the bounce a little more and at halftime, coach told me to be more aggressive,” Moschin said. “And I was able to knock down some threes.”
But many of Moschin’s buckets were matched by a sophomore on the other side: Jacob Rice, who finished with a game-high 27 points for St. Laurence.
Highland Park also got 9 points each from Asher Diamond and Alex Kriser (5 rebounds), both sophomores.
Deutsch expects his strong sophomore class to contribute and grow all season alongside guys like Rohn, second-year varsity player Gabe Shamberg and senior guard Brandon Rieger.
Tuesday’s loss was the Giants’s second of the tournament after a 77-41 defeat at the hands of Bolingbrook on Monday, Dec. 26. Rohn led Highland Park with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Moschin had 10 points and Shamberg 9.
Highland Park gets three more consolation games to finish out the tournament.
Deutsch said despite the results, he enjoys the Jack Tosh tournament for the opportunity it presents his team.
“It’s back to back to back to back (games). It’s difficult, especialy for a young team and I’m especially proud of our resilience, our bounceback ability,” he said. “And we’re really close and connected, and that’s when you’re tested.
“We gain confidence from our character and this is a high-character group.”
After a well-earned break before Highland Park returns to the court for conference play Jan. 10 at home against Maine East and Jan. 13 on the road against Maine West.