Stagg’s David Ortiz can still shoot the ball. But now, he does it all. ‘Whether it’s a glamorous thing or not.’

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Stagg’s David Ortiz could always shoot.

His ability to knock down 3-pointers earned him a role on varsity as a sophomore and helped him become a valuable sixth man most of last season as a junior. But Ortiz wanted to help his team in more than one way as the senior forward prepped to be a full-time starter.

“I put in a lot of work in the offseason to be able to do a lot more things,” Ortiz said. “I’m doing a lot more rebounding. I feel like I’m a bigger presence with boxing out and rebounding offensively and defensively.”

Make no mistake, though. Ortiz can still shoot.

He hit a trio of 3-pointers in the first quarter Wednesday night to help host Stagg start fast on its way to a 66-34 win over Shepard in a battle of Palos Hills vs. Palos Heights.

Ortiz finished with 14 points and six rebounds for the Chargers (13-5). Connor Williams also scored 14 points, while Domas Narcevicius added 12 points and seven rebounds.

Jeremiah Storey had eight points and seven rebounds to pace Shepard (4-11). Sophomore Danny McGovern finished with six points.

Ortiz, whose parents are Chicago Cubs fans but named him after the former Boston Red Sox slugger, will never be as big as his namesake. But he’s worked hard on bulking up and developing toughness to compete for rebounds and play tough defense inside.

He also plays football, which helps in that regard.

“The physicality of football is big for me,” he said. “We do a lot of lifting, and then just being on the football field and being a part of that physicality, it transfers over to the basketball court.”

Stagg coach Marty Strus has seen Ortiz turn into way more than just a one-trick pony.

“He’s one of the most guys, if not the most, who has evolved during his time here,” Strus said. “His sophomore year, he came up to varsity and it was just, ‘David, go shoot the ball.’ That’s what he did best, and the other areas of his game were what he really needed to work on.

“Now as a senior, he’s put some weight on, and he’s been big for us with handling pressure. He’s been better as a rebounder. He’s evolved into a more complete player. He’s been huge for us this season.”

Of course, it still feels good when the 3-pointers are falling the way they were for Ortiz against Shepard.

“Oh yeah,” Ortiz said. “When I hit the early shots like that, I want to get the ball as much as I can after that.”

Stagg built a 34-13 halftime lead on its way to its 13th victory, already equaling last season’s win total.

Senior forward Yousef Jarad, who scored seven points off the bench, is excited about the team the Chargers have.

“The way we’ve come together as seniors is great,” Jarad said. “There are a lot of us, and we all know we have something special here. We all cherish that and we don’t waste opportunities.

“We all have a dying, burning passion for winning. Nobody on this team comes on the court with anything other than a ferocious mindset.”

According to Jarad, Ortiz exemplifies that.

“He’s been tremendous this year,” Jarad said. “Everything on the court you can imagine — points, rebounds, assists — he does it all, whether it’s a glamorous thing or not. I can’t say enough about the guy’s ability to score the ball, and he’s just willing to do anything for the team.

“I’ve never seen a single selfish bit of energy come out of him.”


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