Marengo boys basketball coach Nate Wright could not be happier with the growth of sophomore guard Matt Volkening, both physically and with his game.
First of all, Volkening, who was listed at 6-foot-1 to start last season, is now 6-5. That has helped him develop more of a game that includes slashing into the lane for shorter jumpers. Volkening is averaging 18.5 points a game, second among area players to Cary-Grove’s Beau Frericks’ 20.4.
Volkening, the last of four brothers in his family, has been a force for the Indians, who are 14-2 overall and sit atop the Kishwaukee River Conference standings at 2-0.
“With his length, on the offensive end, he creates shots that aren’t shots for other people,” Wright said. “He can rise up over people and score. He’s all legs. I think he’s grown. The warm-up (pants) we gave him at the beginning of the year look too short for him now. He creates the opportunity to get to the hole and get those buckets inside.”
Wright said Volkening mainly stayed outside the 3-point line for a lot of his shots last season. He has 33 3-pointers, tied for second on the team with Brady Cannon. Aiden Smith leads the Indians with 37.
Those three players, along with 6-4 junior Jonah Pace, who is averaging 8.3 points inside, are key to Marengo being the team to beat in the KRC.
Vets’ night: Woodstock North hosts Ridgewood at 7 p.m. Friday in an “Honor the Vets Night.”
The Thunder will recognize all military veterans in attendance and students and fans are encouraged to wear camouflage apparel for the occasion.
Tough Trojans: Much of Cary-Grove’s notoriety is aimed at guard Beau Frericks and forward Frank Jakubicek, the Trojans’ leading scorers and third-year starters.
Another returning starter from last year’s 21-8 team, guard Clark Cunningham, showed what he can do in Wednesday’s 68-44 victory at Jacobs, scoring 11 points, 10 of which came in a red-hot C-G first half.
“Clark’s a dang good player,” C-G coach Adam McCloud said. “He’s going to play college basketball somewhere. Somebody’s going to pick him up and get a hard worker, a great defender and someone who can attack the basket.”
Nice honor: Huntley guard Uchenna Egekeze joined his brother Amanze in passing 1,000 career points in Wednesday’s 58-42 win at Hampshire. Egekeze scored 24 to finish the game with 1,009 in his career.
Hampshire stopped the game to announce the achievement and Whip-Purs athletic director Mike Sitter gave him the ball.
NORTHWEST HERALD POWER RANKINGS
1. Cary-Grove (16-2): The Trojans defeated Hampshire and Jacobs, around a win against Buffalo Grove in a Lake Zurich Martin Luther King Tournament game. They have won four in a row since losing to Waubonsie Valley in Jacobs’ Hinkle Holiday Classic championship.
2. Huntley (14-3): The Red Raiders won their sixth in a row with a 58-42 triumph over Hampshire on Wednesday. There is a date looming Jan. 28 when C-G will visit Huntley.
3. Marengo (14-2): The Indians survived a tough shooting night in a 50-48 win over Harvard on Friday. They bounced back with a strong performance Tuesday to beat Richmond-Burton. They have three of the top five 3-point shooters in the area.
4. Hampshire (11-6): The Whip-Purs lost their first three games, won 11 in a row, and now have lost three straight games, all in the FVC. Two of those losses came to C-G and Huntley, but they need to find ways to score.
5. Crystal Lake Central (8-8): The Tigers are a new team to the top five after knocking off Dundee-Crown, 60-51, Wednesday night. Sitting at .500 is remarkable for a group that graduated five starters from a 20-win team.
WHAT TO WATCH
Lake Zurich Martin Luther King Tournament, Saturday and Monday: With a win over the host Bears on Saturday, Cary-Grove will advance to the championship at 2:30 p.m. Monday against either Glenbrook South or Mundelein.
Wheaton-Warrenville South Martin Luther King Tournament, Saturday and Monday: Huntley opens at 2 p.m. Saturday against Lake Forest Academy. The Red Raiders ride a nice winning streak into the tournament.
Burlington Central Martin Luther King Tournament, Saturday and Monday: Johnsburg, Marian Central and Woodstock North are the local teams competing in the tournament.