Anthony Virdure knows no fear on the court. Whether attacking the teeth of a defense or taking the last shot with the game on the line, Virdure, a junior guard for the Lutheran North boys’ basketball team, will do whatever it takes to win.
The 6-foot, 170-pound Virdure is averaging a team-high 22 points per game and shooting 54 percent from the field. He’s hit 71 percent of his 200 free throws. And he’s tougher than advanced calculus.
When you get to the free throw line that often, that means you get fouled. Sometimes they’re light fouls without a lot of contact. Sometimes Virdure has to peel himself off the floor after getting socked.
Not that it bothers Virdure, he’s got a pretty high threshold for pain. When he was six, he was horsing around and fell into a fire pit. The result was a wicked scar on his shoulder. As a freshman at Lutheran North, he broke his ankle playing football. He’s chipped teeth and broken fingers. He even dislocated his finger one night on the basketball court and came back to play the next day. “I wasn’t supposed to,” Virdure, 17, says.
A driven young fellow, Virdure doesn’t like to let anything get in his way, especially a little pain. So it comes as no surprise that when the Crusaders were scheduled to line up against small school powerhouse Cardinal Ritter and Notre Dame recruit Cameron Biedscheid in the Class 3 sectional round this past week, Virdure was ready to meet that challenge head on. And trust us, Cardinal Ritter and Biedscheid will be a pain to put out of the postseason. “We have to play team defense better than we have all year,” Virdure says. “We have to finish through contact.”
That’s something Virdure has done this season, and the Crusaders have needed it. Sitting at a tidy 22-7, Lutheran North strung together an outstanding regular season that included tournament titles at St. Charles West, MICDS and a runner-up finish at CBC’s D.C. Wilcutt Tournament. But there were also some hiccups. The Crusaders were beaten at home by Jennings and lost both conference games with MICDS by one point. They were clocked by Chaminade and John Burroughs. “It’s been kind of a roller coaster,” Virdure says.
Lutheran North is trending upwards. Virdure sent the Crusaders into the District 6 tournament title game when he buried a buzzer-beating 3- pointer against Whitfield. He then scored 19 points the next night as they scored a 51-49 win against Burroughs to win the district championship— their first since 2008—and set up their date this past week with Cardinal Ritter.
To be successful against the Lions, Virdure says everyone on the team has to play their part to perfection. “Everybody has to know their role and not try to do too much,” he says.
Virdure doesn’t see himself as a scorer. He can score if the opportunity is there but can also lay the ball off to someone else who has a better look. He can get his teammates involved if the defense tries to shut him down. “I’m just a play-maker,” he says. “I can make plays to get other people open. We can create offense with defense.”
Virdure is averaging almost three steals per game, and oftentimes, those result in fast breaks. If Virdure picks a pocket, he’ll be off to the races. He’ll attack the basket and try to draw a foul. Or maybe he’ll attack the basket and pass the ball at the last second. You don’t know what Virdure might do. Just know that he’ll do whatever it takes to win.