When the ball leaves Adam Labuda’s fingertips, there are great expectations for Lockport.
The senior guard has been high school and travel teammates with Quinton Hunter for four years. The two know each other well, and Hunter talked about one aspect Friday night.
“He’s a really great shooter,” Hunter said of Labuda. “Whenever I see him shoot, I think that he’s going to make it every single time. He impresses me every single game.”
As for Labuda?
He is pretty confident in his shooting ability as well. And he also has great expectations.
“Every shot I take I think is going in,” Labuda said. “I wouldn’t take a shot if I didn’t think I was going to make it.”
Labuda set the tone in the first quarter, making his first three 3-point shots as the host Porters rolled to a 52-44 victory over Lincoln-Way Central in a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover.
The 6-foot-3 Labuda did cool down a bit after that but still led Lockport (7-3) with 13 points. He added six rebounds and two steals. Hunter had 11 points and six rebounds.
“He plays so hard,” Lockport coach Brett Hespell said of Labuda. “He is without question our leader. He doesn’t come off the floor.
“I have to ask him, ‘Do you need a break?’ I wish I can get him some minutes (of rest) because I think he would be a little better on the offensive end if he got a little break here and there. He sets the tone for our team.”
Labuda is crossing his fingers he can pick up some NCAA Division II recruiting interest. He is getting interest from Division III schools Kalamazoo, Knox, Concordia and Dominican.
Labuda has been playing basketball since fourth grade. His brother Alex, who is four years older, played until the end of his sophomore season in high school and serves as an inspiration.
“He’s the reason I got this far,” Adam said of this brother. “I was watching all of his games and trying to follow what he’s been doing.”
Despite sporting a tough record through nine games, however, Lincoln-Way Central hung tough and refused to go away.
First-year coach Evan Wyllie, a head coach at Norris City and West Frankfort before serving three years on the staff at NCAA Division II West Florida, said early losses to Bloom, Hillcrest, Lincoln-Way East and Bolingbrook were tough on his new team.
“Our schedule has not done us any favors,” Wyllie said. “Hopefully, we’re better for it in the long run.
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“You can see we’re not very big and we’re not the most athletic group around. We have to clean a lot of little things up. Once we figure that out, we’ll see the fruits of our labor.”
Lockport, meanwhile, is enjoying a nice start to the season.
Hunter, a Carroll recruit, said this team is capable of winning 20 games. The last time the Porters hit that number was the 2010-11 season.
“It depends on how we play,” Hunter said. “We are a very beatable team, but we can beat basically any team in the state if we’re playing well.”
Labuda is also looking forward to having everyone healthy.
“It’s not always going to be perfect,” he said. “There were flaws in every loss. But the bench players have been coming through, and we showed (Friday) what we could do when we compete hard.”
Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.