Preps Talk

Holiday Tournament action starts on Friday's High School Lites

Holiday Tournament action starts on Friday's High School Lites

High School Lites has a loaded show on Friday night as we have some holiday tournaments beginning as well as highlights of games all over the area. Highlights are a given, but we have some great features in store as Niles North's Damaria Franklin is this week's Wintrust Athlete of the Week. 

Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs

Lakes vs. Cary-Grove, 3:00 p.m. -- Action begins at the Hinkle Holiday Classic as Lakes takes on Cary-Grove as both teams try to turn things around. The Eagles (3-5, 1-2) have dropped two straight as they try to build some early momentum in the tournament. Cary-Grove (4-4, 1-3) has lost three consecutive games after a promising 4-1 start.

Streamwood vs. Grant, 4:30 p.m. -- Another matchup of two teams off to sluggish start but both of these teams could be picking up steam. Streamwood (4-6, 0-4) picked up a win against Juarez on Monday. Grant (2-5, 2-1) has played a very tough schedule to start this season as they've already played North Lawndale, Waukegan and Boylan. After five losses in a row to open the season, the Bulldogs have won two straight. 

Barrington vs. Jefferson, 6:00 p.m. -- This should be an intriguing first game at Jacobs as the Broncos battle one of Rockford's best teams. Barrington (6-2, 2-1) is off to a solid start this season as they try to bounce back from a loss to Palatine. Jefferson (8-2, 5-1) is looking like one of the better programs in the state this season as they own early wins over local teams like Larkin and St. Rita.

Jacobs vs. Marian Central, 7:30 p.m. -- The host school takes on a nearby rival in this one. Jacobs (6-2, 3-0) once again looks like one of the best teams in the Fox Valley while Marian Central (4-4, 0-2) is off to at tough start in the very difficult ESCC. The Golden Eagles are trying to extend a three-game winning streak. The Hurricanes have lost four of five games as they try to figure things out at Jacobs. 

Other Matchups

Proviso West at Downers Grove North, 6:00 p.m. -- This one is an intriguing matchup in the West Suburban Silver. Downers North (7-2, 2-1) won seven consecutive games to start the season before recent losses to Glenbard West and Downers South. Junior guard Semaj Henderson has received some buzz early this season. Proviso West (2-1, 0-1) has a recent win over Brooks as they try to prepare for their own holiday tournament next week. 

No. 2 Whitney Young at Lincoln Park, 6:30 p.m. -- An interesting matchup in the Public League Red-North/West as the Dolphins travel to the North side. Whitney Young (10-1, 3-0) is coming off of a strong weekend in Texas as senior Javon Freeman has played like a Player of the Year candidate. Lincoln Park (5-3, 2-1) has won three straight games as they've played a competitive schedule that already includes games against Orr and Loyola.

St. Joseph at De La Salle, 7:00 p.m. -- The Catholic League Blue gets a good one on Friday night as the Chargers go on the road to play De La Salle. St. Joe's (7-2, 1-0) is coming off of a loss to Evanston but they are an experienced, senior-laden team that is off to a solid start. De La Salle (4-2, 1-0) has played well so far as they own a win over St. Patrick and Mount Carmel. 

No. 18 Marian Catholic at Waukegan, 7:00 p.m. -- A fun non-conference matchup before the holiday tournaments begin. The Spartans (6-1, 1-1) is young and talented as juniors Malik Tidwell and Chris White are notable players to watch while sophomore point guard Ahron Ulis has shown positive flashes as well. Waukegan (5-3, 2-1) has had some early slip ups but they have the talent to 

St. Edward at Timothy Christian, 7:30 p.m. -- The top two teams in the Metro Suburban Red collide in this one. Timothy Christian (7-1, 4-0) has rattled off seven consecutive wins since losing its opener to unbeaten Westmont as they're one of the hottest teams in the area. St. Edward (9-1, 3-0) is coming off of its own five-game winning streak, including recent road wins at Ridgewood and Elmwood Park.  

Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

Brother Rice at Loyola, 7 p.m. -- A really good one in the Catholic League Blue is our Viewers' Choice Game of the Week. Loyola (6-2, 0-1) has played a tough schedule to start the season as they try to pick up another quality win here. Brother Rice (6-4, 0-1) lost a tough one to Fenwick but will try to bounce back in this one. 

1-on-1 with East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson

1-on-1 with East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson

While many top Chicagoland underclassmen took part in the third annual EDGYTIM MLK Underclassmen Showcase powered by EFT Football Academy last week, several others from outside the area participated and made waves of their own. Athletes from Central and Southern Illinois made statements, while others from a dozen states and Canada turned heads as well. 

East St. Louis sophomore safety Antonio Johnson (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) was one of several Flyers who made a very positive impression and made the most of his experience. 

Johnson, who started at wide receiver and safety for the Flyers (10-2 in 2017), is already appearing on several college radar screens. Johnson remains one of several underclassmen to watch for head coach Darren Sunkett over the next few years. 

I caught up with East St. Louis sophomore safety prospect Antonio AJ Johnson at the showcase and discussed his winter plans, his recruiting and why he made the nearly-300 mile trek in the dead of winter to compete at this event.

Three new teams enter latest Preps Power Rankings

Three new teams enter latest Preps Power Rankings

Three new teams enter the picture in the Preps Power Rankings this week as some shakeups occured due to a lot of ranked matchups. While many of the top teams remain the same, a lot of changes went down towards the back end of the rankings this week.

1. Simeon (17-3, 7-0) (1) -- The Wolverines made quick work out of Vocational and Brooks to maintain its conference lead. Big week ahead for Simeon as they play Dunbar, No. 3 Curie and head to Baltimore to face Polytechnic (MD). 

2. Orr (16-3, 7-0) (2) -- Orr took down North Lawndale and Westinghouse during the week to remain unbeaten in conference play. The Spartans face Marshall before hosting Vashon (MO) at their own shootout on Saturday. 

3. Curie (17-2, 7-0) (3) -- The Condors had another strong week, beating Hyde Park, Vocational and North Lawndale. Curie has another busy week as they play Brooks, Simeon and North Chicago. 

4. Whitney Young (17-4, 6-1) (4) -- Whitney Young handled a very tough week, taking down Uplift, North Lawndale and Bloomington. The Dolphins get another week of quality opponents as they play Westinghouse and Chaminade (MO). 

5. Bolingbrook (15-2, 4-0) (5) -- Huge week for Bolingbrook as they followed up a win over Morgan Park with wins over Joliet Central and Homewood-Flossmoor. The Raiders play Joliet West and Lincoln-Way East this week. 

6. Morgan Park (15-7, 6-2) (6) -- Adam Miller looked like a potential star as the sophomore made nine three-pointers in a Morgan Park win over Fenwick. The Mustangs have been without Ayo Dosunmu and Tamell Pearson but still look like a top team. The Mustangs face Harlan and St. Frances (MD) this week. 

7. Niles North (18-2, 4-2) (10) -- Blowout win for the Vikings over crosstown rival Niles West as they get another conference game against Glenbrook South during the week.

8. Fenwick (14-6, 5-0) (8) --  Fenwick lost to Public League powers Simeon and Morgan Park but they remained unbeaten in the Catholic League with an overtime win over St. Rita. The Friars get a huge conference game this week when they take on DePaul Prep.

9. Marist (18-2, 3-1) (9) -- The RedHawks beat Brother Rice for a quality win before falling to Benet in overtime. Still looking like a major contender, Marist face Joliet Catholic this week.

10. Marian Catholic (14-3, 2-2) (12) -- The Spartans took down Notre Dame in ESCC play as they prepare to play St. Patrick during the upcoming week. 

11. DePaul (18-4, 3-1) (13) -- DePaul Prep continues to pick up quality wins as they beat St. Joseph and Evanston during the weekend. The Rams have a huge Catholic League game against Fenwick during the week.

12. Loyola (17-3, 4-1) (14) -- Loyola held off St. Ignatius for a close win as they played in the first high school game at Wintrust Arena. The Ramblers play De La Salle and Detroit (Jesuit) this week. 

13. Evanston (14-4, 5-1) (11) -- The Wildkits needed overtime to outlast Glenbrook South before falling to DePaul Prep. Evanston has another busy week ahead as they play Maine South and Geneva. 

14. Oak Park-River Forest (14-4, 5-0) (15) -- The Huskies bounced back with a conference win over Hinsdale Central as they've easily looked like the best team in the West Suburban this season. OPRF plays Proviso West and Lyons this week. 

15. Hillcrest (16-4, 8-0) (16) -- Making quick work of Tinley Park in South Suburban play, the Hawks remain undefeated in the league. Hillcrest gets T.F. South and Homewood-Flossmoor next week. 

16. Lincoln Park (14-5, 6-2) (8) -- Lincoln Park dropped a conference game to Farragut and won a close game against Marshall as they prepare to face La Lumiere (IN), one of the premier high school teams in the country. 

17. New Trier (14-3, 4-1) (21) -- The Trevians had the week off after Monday as they try to regroup to face Niles West and St. Viator during the week. New Trier is still right in the mix in the CSL South race.

18. Benet (15-4, 3-1) (24) -- Fresh off of winning a Martin Luther King event at Wheaton Warrenville South, the Redwings took down Marist in overtime in ESCC play. Benet has Nazareth coming up in ESCC play this week.

19. West Aurora (14-4, 5-0) (25) -- Another solid week for West Aurora as they took down Bartlett in conference play before rolling past a talented Romeoville team. The Blackhawks have Glenbard East this week before facing Willowbrook at the Batavia Night of Hoops. 

20. Joliet Central (15-3, 8-0) (18) -- Tough loss for Joliet Central as they fell to a red-hot Bolingbrook team. The Steelmen came back with a double-digit win over crosstown rival Joliet West. Joliet Central hosts Romeoville in a huge Southwest Prairie clash of unbeatens this week while also playing Lincoln-Way East this weekend. 

21. Wheaton Warrenville South (16-4, 7-1) (NR) -- Impressive DuPage Valley Conference win for the Tigers over Naperville North as they are tied for first in the league. Wheaton Warrenville South has a road game at Wheaton North before taking on Lake Park in conference play this week.

22. North Lawndale (13-7, 3-4) (17) -- Tough week for the Phoenix as they dropped three games to top-5 teams. North Lawndale played Orr to the limit in a four-point loss before losing to Whitney Young in overtime. Curie also got the best of the Phoenix with a weekend clash. North Lawndale gets another tough game against Uplift this week.

23. Naperville North (15-2, 7-1) -- The Huskies dropped a DuPage Valley Conference clash against Wheaton Warrenville South as the league continues to be one of the toughest to win in the suburbs. Naperville North has winnable game coming up this week against Metea Valley as they try to stay with the Tigers. 

24. St. Viator (16-4, 4-0) (NR) -- With four consecutive double-digit wins and the only unbeaten conference record in the loaded ESCC, the Lions re-enter the Power Rankings. St. Viator has plenty of quality wins this season, including Marian Catholic, Benet, Prospect, Conant and Libertyville. 

25. Aurora Christian (16-0, 6-0) (NR) -- The area's only remaining unbeaten team, Aurora Christian joins the Power Rankings after a solid win over Mooseheart during the week. Our Team of the Week last week, senior Jake Wolfe leads Aurora Christian as the Lipscomb commit is an All-Area candidate.