Crystal Lake South forward Eric Schiller took a pass near the top of the key and was poised to bury a game-winning, buzzer-beater against Prairie Ridge Tuesday night.
Everyone on South’s side wondered how Schiller, who was wide open, did not even draw iron on the attempt. It all made sense later.
“I think when I went up my [right] ankle gave out,” the 6-foot-3 senior said. “It felt weird, like I had no strength there. When I landed, it was the worst pain I’ve felt in my whole life.”
Schiller visited an orthopedic surgeon Wednesday and was diagnosed with ligament damage, which likely will end his basketball season. He was averaging 7.9 rebounds a game and also leads the Gators (9-14 overall, 4-7 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division) in assists.
“[The doctor] said there’s probably ligament damage,” Schiller said. “I go back in four weeks and if it’s still bad, they may have to do surgery and repair the ligaments. I’ll do my physical therapy and try my best to get out there for the regional. I know that’s farfetched, but I’ll do what I can.”
South plays in the IHSA Class 4A Jacobs Regional on Feb. 25. South coach Matt LePage said the Gators will miss Schiller’s all-around game.
“In seven of the last eight games, he’s been in double digits in rebounds,” LePage said. “He leads us in rebounding and assists. He’s our glue guy with all the little things he does.”
It is a role Schiller embraced, with players such as Nick Geske, Austin Rogers and Max Meitzler doing most of the scoring.
“[LePage] told me at the beginning of the year to get in there and rebound and do the dirty work,” Schiller said. “I need to do a little bit of everything.”
Schiller will wear a walking boot to help immobilize the foot for a while.
Skonieczny to Illinois: Huntley junior catcher-outfielder Mark Skonieczny, who led the Red Raiders in RBIs last season, committed Monday to play baseball at Illinois.
Skonieczny (5-11, 195 pounds) hit .340 with two home runs, six doubles and 23 RBIs last season. He also was not charged with an error. He heard from Indiana, Notre Dame, Purdue and Valparaiso over the summer, then Illinois saw him late in the summer at a pair of showcases.
“I liked their proven track record with catchers and academics with their players,” said Skonieczny, whose GPA is 3.5. He declined to talk about the amount of the scholarship offer.
Skonieczny played with Pro Player Consultants' 17U team last summer. He also said Gary Swanson, who runs Powerhouse Gym out of a large garage adjacent to his home in Union, and speed trainer Rocky Scalise, who owns Going Vertical in Huntley, were instrumental in helping him reach his goals.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Skonieczny said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Skonieczny, who was a Northwest Herald All-Area honorable-mention selection last season, said he started catching when he was 6.
“You’re involved in every play,” he said. “That’s why I like it.”
Slimko to Bowling Green: Crystal Lake South junior Nicole Slimko, a 6-0 outside hitter, has committed to Bowling Green to play volleyball. Slimko was a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selection last season.
Slimko played a key role in helping South become FVC Valley Division co-champion with Prairie Ridge. Last summer, she played with Sky High Volleyball Club’s 16 Black team.
Her father, Mark, played basketball at Jacobs and then played at the Air Force Academy.
• 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.