ALGONQUIN – As sophomores, Kyle Fleck and David Panicko were a formidable inside duo and Crystal Lake Central’s sophomores finished 20-1.
Since that point, Fleck (6-foot-7) and Panicko (6-6) have not been on the floor together all that often because of injuries. But that is starting to change, which means one of the area’s best teams is going to get even better.
Central defeated South Elgin, 74-55, Saturday morning in the tip-off game at the Jacobs Holiday Classic boys basketball tournament, with Fleck and Panicko leading the way, hitting 15 of 22 shots betweeen them.
The Tigers (8-1) will be delighted if it’s a sign of things to come.
“We can play them together, or we can use them separate and let one rest,” Central coach Rich Czeslawski said. “Not many teams have two guys like that. We have some versatility with what we can do. And they both can step out and hit 3s.”
Fleck hit two 3-pointers and finished with 19 points, while Panicko added 16. Fleck is not yet to 100 percent after having surgery in October for patellar tendinitis in both knees.
Panicko missed games early last season with a back injury, then suffered a stress fracture in his left foot that further set back his junior year.
“We’re jelling together,” Panicko said. “I’ve been playing with Kyle for a while. Now we’re out there totally healthy and everything.”
Fleck says his cardio fitness is about 70 to 75 percent and he’s starting to get back into the flow of game speed.
“It makes us a lot bigger,” Fleck said. “Over the summer we were working well together and feeding off each other.”
Fleck and Panicko played with 6-3 guard Corban Murphy both for Central and for Joy of the Game’s travel program over the summer.
After every Central game, there are numerous NCAA Division III coaches milling around waiting to talk to Fleck, Panicko or Murphy.
“It’s nice,” Czeslawski said. “When David came back last year, he wasn’t ready yet. He was a kid we thought would be the X factor last year. He’s only going to get better.”
Gators commit: Crystal Lake South baseball coach Brian Bogda announced that pitcher Tyler Parquette and infielder Will Fogel have made their college plans.
Parquette, a left-hander, will pitch at NAIA Judson University in Elgin. Fogel, a reserve infielder, will play at D-III Dubuque.
Parquette will pitch his third varsity season this spring and held batters to a .197 average last season with 16 strikeouts in 16 innings. Judson has been a strong NAIA program and Parquette will join former Gator Billy Wright, who is the Eagles’ shortstop. Parquette will receive an athletic scholarship.
Bogda expects Fogel will play a larger role for the Gators this spring somewhere in the infield. Fogel will receive an academic scholarship at Dubuque.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.