Senior Tony Reyes does his most important work when nobody is cheering. The 5-foot-10 guard earned his spot on varsity by making his teammates better behind the scenes. He’s responsible with pushing starters Matt Lynch, Ramar Evans and Kevin Cunningham in practice. During games, Reyes provides the Ramblers with a spark off the bench.

Maroon & Gold: I was told you have a famous uncle on the Chicago-area prep basketball scene. Who is he?

Tony Reyes: My mom’s brother is [Benet boys basketball head coach] Gene Heidkamp.

M&G: Under Heidkamp, the Redwings have finished second in Class 4A the last two seasons. How big of an influence has he been on you?

TR: I’ve been around him a lot growing up. He’s helped me out. He has so much knowledge about the game. He’s really good with skill work, like shooting and dribbling.

M&G: Loyola played Benet two days after Thanksgiving. Did you spend Thanksgiving with Uncle Gene? If so, how did that go?

TR: We were together. He likes to talk a lot. We went on and on about basketball. There was some trash-talking, but it was fun. He’s always positive. He never says anything negative to me.

M&G: Define your role on the team. What is your strength?

TR: I’m mainly used for defense. It’s fun, and I actually like playing it because I’m good at it. I like locking a player down.

M&G: On Dec. 16, the Ramblers beat Montini 69-17. At one point in the first half, the score was 29-1. Loyola led 43-3 in the second half, and the Broncos needed nearly 20 minutes to score their first field goal. Being a defensive guy, you must have loved that.

TR: It was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Maybe on SportsCenter. We were well-prepared for the game. We are a good defensive team, and we locked them down. They didn’t get off any good shots. That’s how we win games.

M&G: You and the team left Monday for Naples, Florida, to play in a holiday tournament. What are you looking forward to on the trip?

TR: It will be really fun to go out of town and bond with the team. Chemistry is very important. You’re a better team when you are playing for each other. We are there to play basketball and win games, but we have some other things planned like going to the beach. I hope we play paintball.

M&G: Outside of basketball, what do you like about going to school at Loyola?

TR: I’m doing a service class this year. Part of it is teaching English to immigrants in Albany Park [in Chicago]. They speak Spanish, and I’m teaching them basic English. They are just learning the language. You go seven times a semester. Service is something I would like to continue when I go to college.

Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola