The Frankfort Station 041218
50 | April 12, 2018 | The frankfort station sports frankfortstation.com Basketball Griffins basketball players stand out on the court RANDY WHALEN Freelance Reporter Sam Shafer remembers looking at the basketball record board when he first came to Lincoln-Way East as a freshman. "I was in gym class and the record board hangs in place in the gym," Shafer recollected of his first time seeing the list. "I thought some of those records were amazing and knew it took a lot of hard work to get them." Little did Shafer know then that by the time he finished high school, he would be listed among those leaders in most major categories. While Shafer was setting records and leading the boys hoops team to new heights, Carolyn Waleski was doing the same as a senior guard on the girls basketball side. Both programs set school records for wins in a season and advanced the furthest they have in the postseason. Behind those accomplishments were a bunch of talented players. But Shafer and Waleski. stick out as being special among the players. That wasn't by accident. "It took a lot of hard work," said Shafer, who is good friends with Waleski. "But I also looked at the board to see the team titles for boys basketball. It only listed on conference championship [in the SICA West in 2002-03]. So, I wanted to put a year up there and win something in my career." He did as the Griffins (23- 6) won a regional championship for the first time in school history with a 61-48 victory over Romeoville on March 2 in the title game of the Class 4A Lincoln-Way Central Regional. After setting a new school record the previous season with 20 wins, East bettered that with 23 this season before losing to eventual sectional champion West Aurora in the semifinals of the Romeoville Sectional. What made this group so special? "The chemistry," Shafer said of his bond with his teammates, especially fellow senior guards Joey Buggemi and Zach Parduhn. "We all knew what each other were going to do on the court. Plus we all had fun together. We really enjoyed our trips to Teutopolis, and we all enjoyed coming to practice and being together." Along the way Shafer set many records. He now holds the Griffin season school records for most points (549), most rebounds (189), and most free throws (175), which included making 13 in a game three times. He was All-SouthWest Suburban Conference for the second straight season. A three-year varsity player and starter that whole time, Shafer also owns many career marks from 2015-18. Those are most points (1,296), most field goals (418), most 3-pointers (137), and most free throws (323). Along the way he made several All-Area and All-State teams, including the Illinois High School Association All-State Second Team, after being Special Mention as a junior. He played in the City-Suburban All-Star game in Chicago on April 6 and will play in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association one in Pontiac in June. "Sam led the way for our Griffins basketball player Sam Shafer shoots the ball Dec. 8 during the team's game against Homewood-Flossmoor. 22nd Century Media file photo first regional championship and a record-setting 23-6 mark for this past season," East boys basketball coach Rich Kolimas said. "He is a terrific shooter with great vision at 6-foot-6 inches. "He can also rebound and pass the ball. He is going to have a fine career at SIU." Shafer, who got involved in basketball thanks to his parents Jill and Ernie Shafer and his older brother Max Shafer, will continue his career at Southern Illinois University. Heavily recruited, he went with SIU because the university showed interest in him. "SIU first contacted me my junior year," he said. "They weren't the first school, but they showed the most interest. That always stuck with me. They were straight up and made me feel very welcome. They made me a first priority and wanted me to go there really bad. I loved the campus, team and everything." While Waleski doesn't hold as many records as Shafer, she still certainly left her mark at East. As a freshman and sophomore she attended Lincoln-Way North, before moving onto East after North closed in 2016. "My junior year we had trouble getting together with the two different styles," Waleski said of the two different programs from East and North meshing. "But our energy grew from that and we, as players, wanted to make coach [Jim] Martin's last year a special one. Every day we had motivation to keep getting better." As a 3-year varsity player and starter, she finished with a career scoring mark of 1,074 points. Since the Phoenix records combined with East, Waleski is sixth on the all-time scoring list for the Griffins. She made several All- Area and All-State teams, including Illinois High School Association All- State - Third Team. She was named All-SWSC Conference in the Blue Division for the second straight season. This past season she averaged 12.5 points per game (391 points), 3.5 assists per game (83), 5.1 rebounds per game (168), and 4 steals per game (132). In fact, the steals mark of 132 set a new school record for most in a season. Waleski also had 11 steals in a game, which was a new school record too. "It's always a goal to do the best I could," Waleski said of the records. "When I was close to the steals record [for a game], coach [assistant coach and former North head coach Jim] Nair told me I was two away from the record. I didn't set out to get that, it was more of a being in the moment goal. I also had the records for steals at North. I believe that was nine in a game and 123 in a season." In this recently completed campaign, East (28-5) set a school record for most wins in a season. The Griffins also advanced to the sectional title game for the third time in their 17-year history. But they fell to host Mother McAuley in the title game. "Carolyn was the catalyst for this year’s team," East girls basketball coach Jim Martin said. "She led the way to a school-record 28 wins and set school records with 11 steals in a game and 132 in a season. She is one of the best athletes we have had here at East. Her quickness and anticipation of where the ball is going makes her an extra-special player." Waleski, who has a 4.916 GPA and scored a 1270 on her SAT test, will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a preferred walk-on in the basketball program and major in engineering. "I had a lot of other programs offer me, but there was no program that could beat Illinois in engineering," Waleski said. "So going there is for for academics. But I certainly believe I can play with those girls. I knew I wanted to go there the first time I went to visit there. I had other opportunities, but my heart pushed me there." Her heart will also never forget her time at Lincoln- Way North and East. "Just all the relationships and friendships I've made," Waleski said of what she would remember from high school. "We got to play in front of some huge crowds in the sectional. I was super happy to be part of [setting the record for most wins in a season]. I'll miss everyone."
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