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Ortiz, St. Charles East balancing replacing Hardy, Robinson and more.
Some on the outside may think this may be a rebuilding year for St. Charles East with Justin Hardy, Zac Robinson and Zac Matheny gone.
Not on senior guard Nate Ortiz's watch.
He's embracing his upcoming role as the Saints' focal point with a sense of toughness and urgency.
"I think it's a year for us to capitalize off of what we created the last few years," Ortiz said. "I do think we have a lot of pieces that a lot of [other teams] don't have...our junior class coming up is really strong. They probably lost four games in two years."
Alongside returner Cody Mitchell, Ortiz hopes to establish a leadership presence "that everyone feels, not just a few guys."
Senior Jake Champine, who is currently nursing a broken left wrist suffered in a game against Whitney Young earlier in the summer, looks to be in the starting mix at small forward when his injury heals.
"I'm totally pushing to start," Champine said. "I believe I can."