High school newspaper story:
The Bellevue West basketball team has overcome several obstacles this season. One of the challenges they faced was losing their star player, senior Deon Pettigrew. Pettigrew was forced to sit out for the first few games of the season causing his fellow players to step up their game.
“I tore a tendon in my knee and I was out for five weeks. The injury just happened over time,” Pettigrew said.
One player who really stepped up was sophomore Malik Hluchoweckyj. He scored game winning points over the first few games of the season. His work did not go unnoticed.
“I just had to put in more time than just at practice. I came in early in the mornings or went to the Lied Center or the base when we didn’t have practice,” Hluchoweckyj said.
Hluchoweckyj’s hard work was appreciated by many people. With Pettigrew’s absence, the team was forced to take on more of a leadership quality.
“Malik scored a lot and he did very good. He really stepped up,” Pettigrew said.
To the students cheering in the stands the team didn’t look any different. The team pushed through the loss of an important player.
“Everybody stepped up and decided to play better and make up for what I couldn’t do,” Pettigrew said.
Not only was Pettigrew’s absence hard on the team, it was hard on Pettigrew himself. Considering that it’s his senior year, it was difficult watching the games and not being able to participate.
“It sucked not being able to play, but I’m so glad that they were winning,” Pettigrew said.
Now that Pettigrew is back on the court, everything has changed for Hluchoweckyj as well as the whole team. Hluchoweckyj doesn’t have all the pressure or the spotlight anymore.
“As a point guard I passed the ball to people to make the shots, but when Deon was gone I had to take over the scoring role,” Hluchoweckyj said.
The team started off the season working extra hard to make things work because Pettigrew wasn’t around, and get to finish the season working with Pettigrew and Hluchoweckyj together. This makes things easier in a sense because things are getting back to normal.
“Now I can score more, and we flow better together. We have more chemistry,” Pettigrew said.
What does this mean for these two players finally playing at the same time? It has no big effect on them. They are just sharing the responsibilities on the court.
“Deon’s a good player and we help eachother out by trying to lead the team. One of us doesn’t have to have such a big burden and the responsibility is shared,” Hluchoweckyj said.
Now that Pettigrew is back, there will be more winning streaks to come. He scored a total of 17 points at the Omaha Westside Warriors vs Bellevue West Thunderbirds game.
“I’m happy I am finally doing something and getting the chance to help out my team,” Pettigrew said.