Home Sports Page views: Lemont’s student section told Hillcrest’s Adam Page to shoot. And that’s fine with him. ‘I was focused on making them.’

Page views: Lemont’s student section told Hillcrest’s Adam Page to shoot. And that’s fine with him. ‘I was focused on making them.’

by staff

Hillcrest’s Adam Page thinks of himself as a shooter.

So, when the sophomore guard missed a few early 3-pointers Tuesday night and started hearing it from Lemont’s student section, which implored him to keep shooting, Page was happy to comply.

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“I heard them, but I was trying not to think about it,” Page said. “I was just focused on making them. Even though shots were rimming in and rimming out, if you’re a shooter, you just have to keep shooting.

“I’m labeled at school as a shooter, so I knew some were going to eventually fall.”

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Page was right about them starting to go in. He hit three big 3-pointers and finished with 11 points as Hillcrest pulled away from short-handed host Lemont for a 57-39 South Suburban Blue win.

Tolu Samuels led the Hawks (18-2, 7-0) with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Akron recruit Darrion Baker scored 11 points and Quentin Heady contributed 10.

Lemont (16-6, 6-2) played its fifth game in five days, all without star twins Matas and Rokas Castillo. Lemont coach Rick Runaas would not comment on the twins’ status or on if or when they will return.

Runaas’ son, Ryan, led Lemont with nine points. Klaidas Paskauskas and Alanas Castillo — the twins’ sophomore brother — each scored six points, while David Bilevicius chipped in with five points and eight rebounds.

Lemont surprised the Hawks early, hitting four 3-pointers in the first quarter and taking a 15-13 lead.

Lemont's Ryan Runaas, right, drives to the basket as Hillcrest's Gary Bradley defends during a South Suburban Blue game in Lemont on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.

But Page ignited a surge in the second quarter by burying two 3-pointers of his own as Hillcrest built a 34-25 halftime edge.

“You have to keep a ‘next play’ mentality,” Page said of the slow start. “If you miss 10 shots, but you get five steals on defense, it’s still a good night. You just have to keep your head up.”

Hillcrest coach Don Houston knows Page has been tasked with a lot as a sophomore starter on a team that hopes to contend for a state title.

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“He’s getting better,” Houston said. “I know that as a sophomore starting on varsity, especially with a team that’s extremely competitive, you’re going to have growing pains. He just needs to learn the system, and once he’s comfortable with it, he can play freely.”

Page was called up to the varsity team for the playoffs last season and played in the Hawks’ season-ending sectional semifinal upset loss to Lemont.

Hillcrest's Bryce Tillery, right, dives for the ball as Lemont's Noah Tomaras defends during a South Suburban Blue game in Lemont on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.

“This was a game that was, for sure, marked on the calendar,” Page said.

Runaas said Lemont is trying to gather itself amid uncertainty. The team has gone 1-4 since Friday, including 1-2 in the Deerfield Martin Luther King Jr. Tournament.

“Friday, everything happened so fast,” Runaas said of the Castillos’ situation. “We haven’t practiced since. You put together a schedule putting together certain assumptions. You think, ‘Can we play five games in five days? I think so.’

“Then this happens, and we haven’t had a chance to practice with this dynamic with guys in new roles.”

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Hillcrest's Adam Page converts a basket against Lemont during a South Suburban Blue game in Lemont on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.

Hillcrest held Lemont to three points in the third quarter. Samuels was dominant on both ends.

“I looked at this team and realized they’re a lot smaller than me,” he said. “I knew I could use my size and my length to get in there and get a lot of boards.”

Meanwhile, Samuels sees Page continuing to develop.

“Adam’s handling this great,” Samuels said. “Going from playing JV as a freshman to varsity as a sophomore, he’s becoming a great player.

“He’s always confident and we always try to keep him up and keep him going the right way because it’s going to be his show next year.”

Steve Millar is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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