Preps Talk

Big matchups in CSL South, Public League lead High School Lites

Big matchups in CSL South, Public League lead High School Lites

High School Lites has a great show on Friday night as we will feature a number of top conference matchups.

Top teams in the MSL East, Public League Red North/West, West Suburban Gold and CSL South are some of the matchups included.

Catch the latest episode of High School Lites on Friday at 11 p.m. On NBC Sports Chicago.


No. 4 Whitney Young at No. 2 Orr, 5 p.m. — A gigantic matchup in the Public League Red North/West. Orr (18-3, 8-0) previously knocked off the Dolphins for the Proviso West Holiday Tournament title as they hold the conference lead. Whitney Young (18-5, 7-1) still has a lot to play for with the conference and Public League Playoff seeding on the line.


Prospect at Rolling Meadows, 6:00 p.m. -- This is a key matchup in the MSL East as the red-hot Knights travel to Rolling Meadows. Riding a five-game winning streak, Prospect (15-4, 7-0) has played well behind guard David Swedura. Rolling Meadows (10-9, 5-2) counters with a solid team and an intriguing potential standout in freshman Max Christie.

U-High at Northridge, 6:30 p.m. -- The top two teams in the Independent School League face each other in this one. Northridge (16-5, 8-0) is the leader by two games in the conference as they've won eight straight games. U-High (13-9, 7-2) already lost to Northridge on Jan. 5 as they try to make a statement before the playoffs.

Minooka at Plainfield East, 6:30 p.m. -- Two intriguing teams from the Southwest Prairie will go at it in this one. Plainfield East (14-9, 6-3) fell in its last game in Oswego East as they try to to regain some momentum they had going in early January. Minooka (13-11, 5-4) beat Plainfield East on Dec. 15 as they held them off for a home win.

St. Laurence at No. 24 Leo, 7:00 p.m. -- In the Catholic League White, the two best teams are fighting for the conference lead. Leo (15-5, 5-0) has entered the Power Rankings after some recent quality wins over Romeoville and Uplift. St. Laurence (16-7, 4-1) fell earlier this week to Conant but they have a high-caliber offense that is capable of putting up big points.

No. 6 Niles North at No. 13 Evanston, 7:00 p.m. -- Two top-25 teams from the Central Suburban League South battle in this one. Evanston (16-4) lost the first matchup between these two teams on Dec. 15 but they're playing well lately and coming off of a big win over Maine South that saw Blake Peters' game-winning shot going viral. Niles North (20-2, 5-2) is still trying to catch the Wildkits in the conference standings after some earlier losses in January. They feature a high-scoring that is one of the only 20-win teams in the area.

No. 19 Hillcrest at Lemont, 7:00 p.m. -- The South Suburban Blue is the focus here as the Hawks try to stay unbeaten in league play. Hillcrest (17-5, 9-0) has remained the top team in the league but they just fell to Homewood-Flossmoor following a six-game winning streak. Lemont (14-7, 6-2) took down Reavis last week as they try to pick up a signature win before the postseason.

No. 25 Willowbrook at Hinsdale South, 7:30 p.m. -- A big matchup in a crowded West Suburban Gold race for this matchup. Hinsdale South (15-5, 5-2) fell in the first game on Dec. 15 but they are hoping to overtake Willowbrook in the standings in this one. The Hornets are led by Iowa State commit and senior Zion Griffin as he has a balanced supporting cast. The Warriors (19-4, 6-2) have picked up some quality wins lately, including a conference matchup with Proviso East. Senior Ethan Schuemer is already over the 1,000-point plateau for his career.

GIRLS: Glenbard West at OPRF, 7:30 p.m. -- Glenbard West goes for its 20th consecutive wins in this one as they go on the road. Clinching its first West Suburban Silver title since 2006, Glenbard West (23-3, 10-1) is coming off a win over Hinsdale Central. OPRF played a close contest with Glenbard West in the first meeting as they lost by eight on the road on Dec. 15.

Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week

St. Rita at Brother Rice, 7:00 p.m. -- In our Viewers' Choice Game of the Week we head to the Catholic League White. Brother Rice (15-8, 3-3) takes three consecutive wins into this one as this is the start of a key stretch in conference play. St. Rita (12-10, 2-2) is coming off of a big win over Marist earlier this week as they're still capable of knocking off any team in the state.

Lake Park's Patrick Panasiuk looking to live up to legacy of his brothers

Lake Park's Patrick Panasiuk looking to live up to legacy of his brothers

Lake Park junior offensive/defensive lineman Patrick Panasiuk (6-foot-3, 295 pounds) is hoping to follow in the extra-large footsteps of his two older brothers. DT Mike Panasiuk and DE Jacub Panasiuk are playing for Mark Dantonio at Michigan State. Patrick, who was an all-conference offensive tackle for coach Chris Roll’s Lancers in 2017, has drawn steady recruiting attention this off season.

I had a chance to catch up with the youngest Panasiuk brother at the sixth annual Franklin Middle School Dodgeball Tournament in Wheaton. Proceeds from the event benefited the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Cammy Can, Jack’s Army and Franklin Middle School.

Panasiuk was able to take a minute to recap his latest recruiting interests. He also reflected on his relationship — and influence — of his two older brothers.

Check out the interview with Patrick Panasiuk above.


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Orr finishes No. 1 in final Preps Power Rankings

Orr finishes No. 1 in final Preps Power Rankings

The IHSA boys basketball season is in the books as High School Lites has finished up another season of coverage. This season had plenty of drama until the end for the No. 1 spot as a group of Public League superpowers battled for area dominance. In the end, Class 2A champion Orr is the top team in the area, in a very tough decision over Whitney Young, Simeon and Morgan Park. Here's a look at the final top 25, with some season highlights and memorable moments. 

1. Orr (30-4, 9-0) -- The Spartans finish the season in the top spot as the only team in the area to capture a state, conference and major holiday tournament title this season. A special senior class that cruised to back-to-back Class 2A titles, Orr also won the loaded Public League Red North/West by going unbeaten. They also steamrolled the competition in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. Orr is also the only team in the area with 30 wins. They beat another 30-win team in the 2A title game this year. Orr had a lot of tremendous accomplishments while beating a lot of good teams. Dannie Smith, Raekwon Drake and Chase Adams all had stellar senior seasons on a deep and loaded team.

2. Whitney Young (28-8, 7-2) -- Peaking in March once again, the Dolphins just missed winning back-to-back state titles in Class 4A with an overtime loss to Belleville West. Knocking off Lincoln Park, Curie, Simeon and Evanston all in a row is a ridiculous postseason accomplishment. Senior Javon Freeman was a Player of the Year candidate and his hot start was one of the big early storylines of the season. Other seniors like Xavier Castaneda, Justin Boyd and Jake Kosakowski made an impact as well. It'll be interesting to see who steps up alongside Myles Baker and Tyler Beard next season. 

3. Simeon (29-4, 9-0) -- Simeon fell short of winning a Class 4A state title after suffering a stunning overtime loss to Whitney Young in the Chicago State Supersectional. The Wolverines were No. 1 nearly the entire season. The loss to the Dolphins was their only IHSA loss of the season. A nationally-ranked juggernaut that at-times played like one of the best teams in the area of the last decade, the back-to-back city champions still won at Pontiac and won the Public League Red South/Central as well. Senior Talen Horton-Tucker morphed into a superstar and Player of the Year favorite while Messiah Jones, Xavier Pinson, Kenny Pittman, Zion Young and Bakari Simmons were also key ingredients. Junior Kejuan Clements could be a breakout star next year as well. 

4. Morgan Park (25-9, 7-2) -- Claiming a second consecutive Class 3A state title, the Mustangs ended the season on a high note as the dominant team in that field. Senior guard Ayo Dosunmu is one of the Player of the Year favorites while senior Cam Burrell had an outstanding season as a double-double machine. Sophomores like Adam Miller and Marcus Watson also emerged as the wave of the future for the program. While the Mustangs had a great end to the season, they had to fight through injuries to Dosunmu and senior center Tamell Pearson -- who missed most of the season with an eye injury. One of the big "What Ifs?" of the 2017-18 season is how good Morgan Park might have been this season with all of its pieces all of the time. 

5. Evanston (27-6, 8-2) -- Exceeding expectations with a Class 4A third-place finish, the Wildkits had a tremendous season. With a balanced team that featured a lot of non-seniors playing big roles, this young Evanston team knocked off many of the area's best teams during the season. Evanston also finished tied atop the loaded CSL South this season. Junior guards Ryan Bost, Jaheim Holden and Lance Jones are all noted talents while senior big man Matt Hall provided a huge presence on the interior. 

6. Marian Catholic (26-6, 5-4) -- Another team to exceed expectations this season was Marian Catholic. The Spartans advanced to state for the first time in capturing a Class 3A third place win. Junior guard Malik Tidwell knocked in a memorable buzzer-beater to win a supersectional and guard Ahron Ulis started to look like a star in the making towards the end of the season. The interior play of Chris White and Alec Dinwiddie was also underrated for this team as they featured a balanced roster. Many of the key pieces of this team are expected back, and this is a close-knit team. Marian Catholic will likely be Class 4A next season as well. 

7. Larkin (24-10, 11-1) -- Larkin had huge expectations this season after making a supersectional last season. They lived up to the hype by making it to Peoria in Class 4A. The duo of Anthony Lynch and Jalen Shaw was one of the best combinations in the area this season and they helped lead the Royals to an Upstate Eight River title. 

8. Curie (26-5, 8-1) -- Curie didn't claim a lot of the team hardware of many of the top 10 teams, but the Condors had some great wins over Orr and Morgan Park during the season. One of the Public League's best teams once again, the Condors also had convincing wins over sectional title teams like North Chicago and North Lawndale. Seniors Treavon and Tyree Martin both had solid careers while Maurice Commander and Marquise Walker had a lot of bright moments during the season.  

9. North Chicago (22-10, 14-0) -- The Warhawks flew under the radar of a lot of people this season. But they went out in convincing fashion after going undefeated in the Northern Lake County conference taking fourth place in Class 3A. Tyrek Cooper and Pierce Coleman led a strong senior group while Ishaun Walker played well in the state playoffs. 

10. Benet (27-5, 8-1) -- Benet had a great season in winning a sectional title in Class 4A. Winners of 18 straight games at one point this season, the Redwings claimed the Wheaton-Warrenville South MLK tournament and Fenwick Thanksgiving events as well. One of the area's best defenses, Benet held 14 opponents to 40 points or less. This unsung group had a solid senior class led by David Buh. 

11. West Aurora (25-5, 10-0) -- A great season for West Aurora as they won 17 straight games themselves at one point. The Blackhawks went unbeaten in winning the Upstate Eight Valley behind a balanced group. Senior Camron Donatlan is one of the area's best overall athletes in recent memory. Jared Crutcher also came on strong at the end of the season. 

12. Lake Zurich (26-8, 9-5) -- The Bears started the preseason in the Power Rankings and fought back in after a Class 4A sectional title and 26-win campaign. One of the area's better shooting teams, the Bears made history with talented players like Ryan Kutsor, Peter DiCerbo and J.R. Cison. 

13. North Lawndale (18-11, 3-6) -- North Lawndale made the most of its Class 3A run by winning a sectional title and falling to Morgan Park in the supersectional at Joliet Central. The Phoenix had a lot of close losses to elite teams during the season that prepared them for the deep Class 3A run as they were led by Demetrius Douglas and David Forrest.   

14. Marist (27-5, 7-2) -- Marist enjoyed another very successful season as a regional champion and one of the best teams in the tough ESCC. The RedHawks had a star in senior guard Morgan Taylor as this team won 27 games during the year. 

15. New Trier (25-6, 8-2) -- One of the biggest teams in the area, the Trevians used their elite size to share the top of the CSL South standings with rival Evanston. New Trier claimed a regional title while also winning some memorable games against conference rivals like the Wildkits and Niles North. Also winners of the Loyola/New Trier Thanksgiving event, New Trier junior Ciaran Brayboy will be a player to track heading into next year. 

16. DePaul Prep (24-7, 5-3) -- The Rams had a nice season as one of the strongest teams in the Catholic League. DePaul Prep came up short of winning a sectional title in Class 3A, but they beat a lot of quality competition during the season. Junior Perry Cowan was one of the area's top players and he could be a star next season. 

17. Bolingbrook (22-7, 7-3) -- Another good season for the Raiders as they nearly won another sectional title in Class 4A. With some of the better guards in the area in Kaleb Thornton, Joseph Yesufu and Tyler Cochran, Bolingbrook knocked off some really good teams, including a win over Morgan Park on Martin Luther King day.  

18. Willowbrook (26-6, 9-3) -- Willowbrook capped a great two-year stretch with the school's first regional title since 2004 and another 20-win campaign. Senior Ethan Schuemer is one of the best players in school history as he leaves as the program's all-time leading scorer. 

19. Niles North (26-5, 6-4) -- Niles North had a great season in the loaded CSL South while also claiming the Wheeling Hardwood Classic in December. The Vikings had a star in Damaria Franklin and other talented weapons like Jamal Stephenson and Drayvon Clayborn. 

20. Loyola Academy (24-7, 5-3) -- One of the area's strongest defensive teams, Loyola Academy had a great season in the Catholic League. Winning a holiday tournament in Naples, Florida, the Ramblers had a very good 10-game winning streak in the middle of the season. 

21. Homewood-Flossmoor (21-7, 9-1) -- The Vikings won the very tough SouthWest Suburban Blue by two games while also winning a regional title in Class 4A. After a decent start, the Vikings also deserve credit for an eight-game winning streak before losing in the playoffs to Marist. 

22. Joliet Central (23-6, 13-1) -- The Southwest Prairie champions had a very strong season before losing in a heartbreaker to Bolingbrook in the sectional semifinals of Class 4A. The Steelmen seemed to find themselves in a lot of memorable overtime games this season, including two against Romeoville, a triple-overtime win over Wheaton-Warrenville South and the double-OT playoff loss to Bolingbrook. 

23. Lincoln Park (19-10, 6-3) -- One of the Public League's biggest surprises this season, the Lions had some huge wins playing in the Red North/West. Taking down Whitney Young, Uplift, North Lawndale, Marian Catholic and Oak Park-River Forest, the Lions had some star power in senior Terrence Shannon.   

24. Lincoln-Way East (23-6, 7-3) -- The Griffins made history by winning the first regional title in school history for boys basketball. Also beating teams like Bolingbrook and Romeoville, Lincoln-Way East was led by very good senior class.

25. Brother Rice (19-11, 4-4) -- The Crusaders had a strong season while playing a solid schedule. Brother Rice had a convincing win over Kenwood for a regional title before putting up a battle with Simeon in the sectional semifinals. Brother Rice was also the runner-up in the 32-team Jack Tosh Holiday Classic.