Preps Talk

New teams and tons of changes in latest Preps Power Rankings

New teams and tons of changes in latest Preps Power Rankings

The newest edition of the Power Rankings has a lot of changes as most of the teams in the state are no longer playing. With supersectionals approaching this week, we'll see one more major shake up before next week's final rankings. Next week's final rankings will also include a deeper look at each team's overall seasons as we focus strictly on results on this edition.

1. Simeon (29-3, 9-0) (1) -- The Wolverines needed a big second-half comeback to knock out Marist but Simeon was able to hold on for the win. Now we get a rematch between city powerhouses for a supersectional as the Wolverines battle rival Whitney Young. 

2. Orr (30-4, 9-0) (2) -- Orr has now captured the Class 2A championship in back-to-back season after another spectacular showing in Peoria. The Spartans had another special season as they've set the bar for what a "small school" can play like in Chicago. 

3. Whitney Young (26-7, 7-2) (4) -- Whitney Young needed overtime to take down Curie but the Dolphins advanced to face rival Simeon in supersectionals. The defending Class 4A champions have had strong performances from multiple players throughout the playoffs as they should give the Wolverines a great game. 

4. Morgan Park (22-9, 7-2) (5) -- Elevating its play to another level in a sectional final win over Bogan, Morgan Park made a major statement with its improved play. Senior Ayo Dosunmu looks like he's on a mission and Cam Burrell and Adam Miller are also making plenty of plays. The Mustangs once again look like a major Class 3A favorite. 

5. Evanston (25-5, 8-2) (6) -- Give Evanston a ton of credit because they just won arguably the most difficult sectional in the state. The Wildkits knocked off Loyola and New Trier with solid wins as the Wildkits now get a game against Lake Zurich in supersectionals. 

6. Benet (27-4, 8-1) (7) -- Benet continues to roll as they have an 18-game winning streak after eliminating Willowbrook with a blowout win. The Redwings are playing for another supersectional in Class 4A as they take on Larkin at NIU on Tuesday. 

7. West Aurora (25-4, 10-0) (8) -- West Aurora was very impressive in its takedown of Bolingbrook as the Blackhawks persevere through some foul trouble. A much deeper team than given credit for, West Aurora gets a major test against Belleville West on Tuesday at ISU.  

8. Marian Catholic (24-5, 5-4) (15) -- Marian Catholic continues to roll in Class 3A as they beat Pontiac and Kankakee to claim a sectional title. The Spartans are still a young team, but they're already thinking about a potential run to Peoria as they play Metamora in supersectionals on Tuesday. 

9. Larkin (23-8, 11-1) (25) -- Larkin appears to be a dangerous team like we thought they might be during the preseason. The duo of Jalen Shaw and Anthony Lynch has been destructive this postseason as the Royals held off Jefferson for a Class 4A sectional title. Now the Royals will face Benet for the right to go to Peoria on Tuesday. 

10. Lake Zurich (26-7, 9-5) (NR) -- Lake Zurich is back in the rankings after being No. 22 during the preseason and first week of the season. The Bears have quietly been piling up wins as they beat Barrington to claim a Class 4A sectional title. Lake Zurich will be underdogs against Evanston in the supersectional game on Tuesday. 

11. North Lawndale (18-10, 3-6) (NR) -- The Phoenix advanced to a supersectional in Class 3A by knocking off Farragut. Now North Lawndale will get a shot at Morgan Park in the supersectionals as it should make for a solid Public League showdown for a spot at state. 

12. North Chicago (21-8, 14-0) (NR) -- North Chicago has been one of the surprise teams in the playoffs as they earned a minor upset over DePaul Prep to claim a Class 3A sectional title. The Warhawks don't have a lot of quality wins at this point in the season, but they've made an impressive postseason run as they play Boylan in supersectionals. 

13. Curie (26-5, 8-1) (3) -- The Condors saw their season end in overtime at the hands of Whitney Young. One of the best teams in the area all season long, Curie only lost to out-of-state teams and Public League superpowers this season. 

14. Marist (27-5, 7-2) (9) -- Marist might have fallen short against Simeon in the supersectionals, but the RedHawks proved they were for real with a great 27-win season. Senior Morgan Taylor had quite a campaign and Marist has grown into a stable presence in the rankings the past few years. 

15. New Trier (25-6, 8-2) (11) -- The Trevians ultimately couldn't get past Evanston in the rubber match of their season rivalry as the Wildkits won the sectional title at Maine East. But New Trier still had a tremendous season and a memorable comeback win over Niles North in the sectional semifinals. 

16. Bolingbrook (22-7, 7-3) (17) -- Bolingbrook couldn't rally to knock off West Aurora as the Raiders lost in the Romeoville Sectional finals. A strong campaign overall for Bolingbrook, however, as they had one of the best perimeters in the area once again. 

17. Willowbrook (26-6, 9-3) (18) -- Falling short of a sectional title, Willowbrook still made history this season with the best team in program history. The Warriors earned a great win over Naperville North in the sectional semifinals before falling to Benet in the sectional title game. 

18. DePaul Prep (24-7, 5-3) (13) -- DePaul Prep fell short of making a supersectional as they fell to North Chicago in Class 3A. The Rams were still one of the best teams in the Catholic League this season and they'll likely be a factor in the postseason for next year as well.  

19. Niles North (26-5, 6-4) (10) -- Niles North had a great season as they were undefeated outside of the loaded CSL South. The Vikings fell, once again, to New Trier, as Niles North blew a second-half lead before falling in overtime. 

20. Loyola Academy (24-7, 5-3) (14) -- Loyola saw its season end thanks to another loss to Evanston. The Ramblers had an outstanding season before falling in the sectional semifinals.

21. Joliet Central (23-6, 13-1) (21) --  Joliet Central fell to Bolingbrook in a memorable classic in the sectional semifinals. The Southwest Prairie winners were one of the pleasant surprises of this season.

22. Lincoln Park (19-10, 6-3) (20) -- Lincoln Park proved themselves to be one of the Public League's best teams this season as they gave Whitney Young a battle before bowing out in the sectional semifinals. 

23. Homewood-Flossmoor (21-7, 9-1) (16) -- The Vikings played their best basketball of the season heading into the playoffs but they were eliminated by Marist in the sectional semifinals at Thornton. Homewood-Flossmoor still has some solid pieces returning for next season as they'll be a team to keep tabs on. 

24. Lincoln-Way East (23-6, 7-3) (22) -- The Griffins made their first sectional appearance but they fell to red-hot West Aurora. Senior Sam Shafer is an All-Area candidate as Lincoln-Way East made history this season.

25. Brother Rice (19-11, 4-4) (24) -- Brother Rice saw its season come to a close after falling to No. 1 Simeon in the sectional semifinals. The Crusaders had an impressive win over Kenwood and they were able to hang with Simeon for a half, as they proved they were one of the best teams in the area this season. 

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.