As Churubusco boys basketball continues to acquire pieces that they hope will help them capture another Sectional crown, one too often forgotten piece has returned to their lineup.
Senior-to-be Hunter Perlich debuted in the rotation recently and took to the court Monday night with the Eagles during the second week of the Snider Monday Night League. Perlich was with Churubusco last season too, but was limited to a junior varsity role because of his transfer from Carroll.
So Perlich has waited for his time, followed his coach’s advice to make the most of the playing time he had and he worked for this coming season, now ready to make a mark for the Eagles.
“He is going to bring a lot, but more than anything is his work ethic and his physicality,” Churubusco head coach Chris Paul said.
Perlich’s foray into the varsity scene for Churubusco was delayed later into this June period of play due to a finger injury. Getting out at the Snider League against South Side and Snider was the first really big test against two of the top teams in the Summit Athletic Conference, a place he is well acquainted with. But the two sport athlete — he also plays baseball — Perlich knew that Monday and the weeks remaining in the month are about getting back into the flow.
“It is tough. Baseball conditioning is a lot different than basketball but I am having a blast,” he said. “I just try to lead by example. We have a good friend group, just trying to stick together and lead by example.”
He has also discussed adding a third sport and maybe moving to the gridiron this fall, knowing the physicality and conditioning would only benefit him when basketball season begins.
Churubusco won the program’s only Sectional title in 2017 and have been fighting to get back to that place ever since. Last year’s team made big strides finishing 12-12, but the community around them is even more intrigued about the 2019-2020 team. That group, plying their trade on Mondays, adds Concordia transfer Landen Jordan (eligible midseason), Canterbury transfer Noah Wolfe and Pelich.
“Hunter brings physicality. That is his game. He is not the fastest kid in the world, he doesn’t jump the highest, he just plays hard, he is strong and he is physical,” Paul said. “He is the absolute perfect power forward, which we haven’t had.”
The Eagles have been and will be guard heavy with Jackson Paul, Luke McClure and Gage Kelly all returning, in addition to the hot shooting hand of Wolfe. Now with Perlich in hand to pair with Jordan, Paul sees a lot of potential for the different offensive sets that Churubusco can run.
On Monday night at the Snider League, Perlich showcased his versatility. He worked strong with his back to the basket, using head fakes and pivots to create open layup opportunities against the Archer and Panthers posts. He was also comfortable moving around the perimeter and spotting up on occasion to showcase his midrange jump shot.
“Right now, his finger is still bothering him, so he is unwilling to shoot the basketball, but he is a really good shooter so he is able to stretch the defense. If we set a screen and they fall back on our guards, he can fall back and shoot the ball,” Paul said.
Perlich agreed when discussing his own versatility.
“I think it is going to be hard for some bigs to match up with me if I can shoot it outside or I can put it on the floor if I need to,” he said.
While Perlich works well in isolated situations, Paul seems most interested in the combination of Perlich and Jordan in the post. Multiple times early in a close loss to South Side, Perlich spotted up in the high post, where he is more than capable of knocking down shots from. It forced the Archer defense to play him more true and opened up high-low options with Jordan. As Jordan himself is becoming one of the more talked about players in the area in June, this duo could be that key for another Sectional title and also to competing in a top heavy Northeast Corner Conference.
“The potential is there, they just have to get on the same page. This is the second time we have had Hunter this summer, it is not an excuse it is just a fact. If he plays football, we might not get him until later on,” Paul said. “But the things that you can run…you can run all kinds of things and then we also free up our guards to get into the paint a little bit. He really is that glue, that missing piece that just kind of puts everything together.”