Senior leadership from basketball captain has helped bring sophomores into the team chemistry needed as the Warriors embark on the heavy part of their Central Suburban League North Division schedule.
The Warriors are already 2-1 (5-7 overall) in league play and travel to at 7:30 p.m. Friday as they ratchet up their intensity heading toward the post season in February.
Watts, averaging 9.3 points per game, Porter (9.0) and Alfieri (9.8) lead the team in scoring. Watts and Alfieri top the Warriors in both rebounding and assists while Porter has popped 22 three pointers and tallied 14 steals.
Each player has special skills has molded into a cohesive unit along with the rest of the Warriors but Watts has a special burden as captain and the only starter from last year’s defending Regional champions.
“He is our go to leader. He leads by example,” Pearl said. “He leads every day in practice. He keeps working harder and keeps getting better. He is all about senior leadership. As a senior he is the most accountable.”
Watts not only leads with his scoring and rebounding (5.8 per game), but he gets his teammates involved. He has dished out more assists (35) than any other Warrior setting them up to score as well.
Watts Helps Mental Preparation
“I try to help get everyone mentally prepared. I try to help them with all the little things and support the game plan,” Watts said. “Then there is the locker room stuff,” he added describing how to tries to give confidence to the others.
Porter, who with Alfieri played on the sophomore team as a freshman a year ago before moving up the varsity, relies on Watts’ wisdom and experience as he develops his own game.
“He talks to us about getting better every game,” Porter said. “He has confidence in us and we have confidence in him. He leads us on the court and off.” Off the court leadership includes activities like team dinners and lunches to foster bonding.
Two of Porter’s key contributions are three point shooting and steals. In a game against Vernon Hills Wednesday, Porter hit four treys for 12 of his 18 points. He also had some key steals leading to Warrior points.
“He’s very creative and can really shoot the basketball. He is a deadly shooter,” Pearl said of Porter. When the sophomore guard is on a roll his confidence keeps getting better. After two quick three-point field goals Vernon Hills stepped up its defense.
“That’s when I have to look for others,” Porter said. “If they’re on me like that someone is going to be open.”
Alfieri Demonstrates Versatility
Alfieri has contributed scoring, rebounding and assists. Pearl likes the way he plays the high post getting others involved as well as his moves near the hoop where a lot of his scoring takes place.
“He opens things up,” Pearl said. “He plays well with his back to the basket and is creative with his moves underneath.”
As the season progresses, both Pearl and Watts recognize the need to improve the Warrior’s defense so the team can play its best basketball in February. This is another area where Watts’ leadership will be key.
“We will need to depend on each other more,” Watts said. “We have to call out the screens and call on each other for help. If we can do that more we’re not going to give up the easy layups.”