Scout team preps Highland Park
Highland Park's bench unit gathers during a game against Glenbrook North Feb. 1. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 22, 2013 10:04AM
HIGHLAND PARK — Operating behind the scenes, a trio of Highland Park boys basketball players have had an impact on the Giants’ fortunes this season.
Senior Max Kaplan, a 6-foot-2 guard, and classmates Rickey Deutsch (a 5-8 guard) and Jonah Baim (a 6-7 forward) are key components on Highland Park’s scout team, mimicking opponents in practice.
Highland Park began the 2012-13 campaign with seven losses in its first nine games. The Giants improved to 12-13 overall with a 54-42 win over Maine West Friday night.
“Those three deserve a lot of credit for our improvement,” Giants coach Paul Harris said. “They’re the guys who aren’t getting the tangible rewards on Friday nights, but you need guys to sacrifice for the good of the group. They’ve all done that, and when your seniors are doing it, it sets the tone for the whole program.”
Baim said the entire team studies film on an upcoming opponent, and the scout team focuses on adopting the habits of that foe’s players during practice. Then, they simulate the game for Highland Park’s starters.
“We cater our drills to the opponent’s strengths,” Baim said. “If a team goes hard to the offensive glass, we’ll go up for the rebound, and we’ll even shoot free throws if we’re fouled.”
Kaplan pointed out that if the scout team is outplaying the Giants’ starters in practice, it gives Highland Park an opportunity to take a collective look in the mirror. Deutsch, who claims to be one of the scout team’s best shooters, said he knows that if he’s hitting baskets during practice, the Giants’ starters will have to work that much harder to guard him.
Highland Park earned the No. 14 seed in the Class 4A Waukegan Sectional. The Giants will play No. 19 Rolling Meadows in a Warren Regional quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Monday.
“Your team is only as strong as your weakest link, so whatever your role, you do it the best you can to help your team,” Kaplan said. “Every single player needs a role, and I’ll do whatever I have to do to help our team win the game.
“Every guy has to invest in the team. We want to be playing our best at the end of the year.”