A year or three from now, South Elgins players will look back at their Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division debut and not be able to recognize themselves.
But as Thursday nights league opener at Waubonsie Valley unfolded, it required only a quick glance to realize the youthful Storm wasnt a good match for the veteran-laden Warriors.
With all five starters getting into the scoring column in the opening 3 minutes and 29 seconds, Waubonsie Valley scored the games first 14 points and rolled to a 63-41 victory in Aurora.
The Warriors (4-1, 1-0), who started four seniors and a junior, got 12 points from Jared Brownridge and Bryan Jefferson and 10 from Matt Gialamas.
The Storm (2-3, 0-1), which started four juniors and a freshman, was led by Robert Grants 14 points and 6 rebounds. Darius Wells added 11 points and freshman Matthew Smith had 10.
Waubonsie Valley forced 17 turnovers and grabbed 12 more rebounds than smaller, skinnier South Elgin.
Thats where I think you see the difference between a young team and an experienced team is the physicality, said South Elgin coach Chaz Taft. They just dominate the boards. They dont really push (us) out of the way, they just hit em with a shoulder and our guy goes flying.
Waubonsie Valley coach Steve Weemer wasnt as interested in seeing physical play as he was in seeing urgency.
The Warriors fell behind by double figures early in their previous game an 18-point loss to York in the Palatine Thanksgiving tournament title game and they didnt want to repeat the feat against a patient South Elgin bunch.
We really had a concerted effort in practice this week that weve got to get off to a good start, Weemer said. I thought our guys responded pretty well. Our defensive energy was good and thats how weve got to play.
On South Elgins first possession the 6-foot-7 Jefferson stole the ball and set up Dylan Warden for a fastbreak layup and a 4-0 lead.
Then the Warriors 1-3-1 zone trap, which had 6-7 Jack Cordes at the top, forced more turnovers that led to the eventual 14-0 lead.
South Elgin cut the lead to 8 points a few times in the first half as Wells hit jumpers and the 6-6 Grant, a junior who wears specially made Size 21 shoes, scored from close range.
But the Warriors had the chance to give the bench plenty of action to prepare for Saturdays home showdown with Neuqua Valley. South Elgin has Geneva next.
I told our guys in the locker room, You cant hang your head, Taft said. Youve got to learn from playing in the Valley. Now you know, your first Valley contest, that its a war every single possession. Not every game, every possession.