Preps Talk

Simeon, Downers South lead Day 1 charge at Riverside-Brookfield


Simeon, Downers South lead Day 1 charge at Riverside-Brookfield

The Riverside-Brookfield Shootout is the first major high school basketball shootout during a busy month of June and it often features the best collection of teams from the Chicagoland area. Summer high school shootouts are always intriguing because coaches get a chance to tinker with lineups and see which younger players could have an impact on varsity for the upcoming season.

Riverside-Brookfield has marked the high school summer debut of many of the area's top players in the past few years, and this year was no different as some younger players that you'll be reading about a lot the next few seasons made a splash.

There were also plenty of city powerhouse programs like Bogan, Kenwood and Simeon, which got off to strong starts while some upstart programs started the summer right with a good opening day.

There will be plenty of more coverage coming from Riverside-Brookfield on the next few days, but here are some highlights from Saturday's action.

Simeon and Zach Norvell make a strong case to be near the top

Simeon and head coach Robert Smith fell short of reaching Peoria last season after a loss in Supersectionals to Normal, but the Wolverines still have championship aspirations heading into the 2015-16 high school season.

Although the Wolverines graduated three Big Ten recruits in D.J. Williams (Illinois), Ed Morrow (Nebraska) and Isaiah Moss (Iowa) there are still plenty of talented players on the roster.

Rising senior guard Zach Norvell leads the charge for Robert Smith's smaller and quicker ball club in 2015-16. The 6-foot-4 lefty guard had the perimeter jumper dialed in on Saturday and he helped lead the Wolverines to three blowout wins.

[RELATED: End of the year CSN Preps Boys Basketball All-Area Team]

There isn't a lot of size for Simeon compared to the past few seasons, but the guard-driven lineup was ferocious with full-court pressure and it made it difficult for teams to cross half court in many situations. Joining Norvell in the four-guard lineup is senior Josh Thomas, junior Evan Gilyard and sophomore Kezo Brown.

With four Division I prospects currently starting at guard, this will be faster and more pressure-oriented Simeon team than the past few seasons. With elite star power lacking in the area in 2015-16, look for the Wolverines to be near the top of the CSN Preps Power Rankings again to start the season.

Downers Grove South surprises with a strong start

One of the pleasant surprises at Riverside-Brookfield on Saturday was the play of Downers South. The Mustangs won their pool on Saturday, beating the likes of Stevenson, Plainfield East and Morgan Park as the play of two juniors stood out.

Denis Alibegovic, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, and T.J. Clifford, a 6-foot-6 forward, both made plays for a balanced Downers South team that stood toe-to-toe with some of the state's most storied programs.

Alibegovic is a Division I prospect with a scholarship offer from Florida International, and he showed a lot of confidence creating his own shot and shooting from the perimeter. Against Plainfield East, he buried a tough step-back jumper to tie the game before making the game-winning bucket to end the contest.

At 6-foot-6, Clifford is also a Division I prospect and he has deceptive athleticism to go along with a strong frame. Clifford opened plenty of eyes by catching an alley-oop off an inbounds pass for a dunk. There are a lot of qualities to like about his game at the high-school level.

Downers South gets to test itself plenty on Sunday as they're in the main championship bracket against some city powerhouses like Simeon, Bogan and Kenwood.

Alan Griffin emerges as a sophomore to watch

Oak Park-River Forest sophomore wing Alan Griffin earned minutes as a freshman on varsity last season and impressed with his poise and basketball IQ. As the son of Chicago Bulls assistant coach Adrian Griffin, there was a lot of like about the 6-foot-4 prospect going forward in-part because of his strong bloodlines.

Griffin looked ready to take the next step with his play on Saturday as he buried six 3-pointers during an impressive Huskies win over Curie. With a smooth 3-point stroke and good size, Griffin made the shooting display look easy as five of those triples came in the game's opening 14 minutes.

While he still needs to develop his mid-range game and refine some of his skill set a little bit more, Griffin looks like he's ready to be one of the go-to scorers on a talented Oak Park-River Forest team that won its pool on Saturday.

Boys Basketball Playoffs begin on busy week of High School Lites

Boys Basketball Playoffs begin on busy week of High School Lites

High School Lites is down to the final week of the regular season in local high school hoops as the Class 3A and 4A schools finish up conference play. The boys basketball playoffs have also started as the Class 1A and Class 2A regional championships will be played on Friday night.

The girls basketball Class 1A and 2A state semifinals will also be featured. You can catch all of those games on NBC Sports Chicago on Friday beginning at 11 a.m. with the 1A semifinals. High School Lites will air Friday night at 11 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago

East Aurora at No. 11 West Aurora, 7:00 p.m. -- These two rivals meet for the 225th time. The Blackhawks (20-4, 9-0) won the first matchup by 22 points as they try to finish the season on a 12-game winning streak. 

Jacobs at Dundee-Crown, 7:00 p.m. -- Fox Valley rivals match up as Jacobs tries to go unbeaten in the conference. The Eagles (23-3, 15-0) has been playing very well as they've won 20 of 21 games heading into this one -- including an earlier win against Dundee-Crown. The Chargers (14-11, 10-4) has won seven consecutive games since dropping to the Golden Eagles as they're second in the Fox Valley heading into this one. 

Yorkville at DeKalb, 7:00 p.m. -- The top two teams in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East play in this one. DeKalb (16-11, 11-1) has already clinched a share of the conference title as the team's only league loss has come against Yorkville. The Foxes (17-8, 10-2) knocked off DeKalb at their place on Feb. 3 as they try to win again to get a piece of the division title. 

T.F. North at Lemont, 7:00 p.m. -- Two of the better teams in the South Suburban Blue battle on the eve of the playoffs. Lemont (17-8, 9-3) has picked up three straight wins entering this one. T.F. North (11-9, 9-3) is trying to build some momentum after recent close losses to Hillcrest and T.F. South.

Carmel at No. 10 Benet, 7:30 p.m. -- The ESCC closes out its season with this one. Benet (22-4, 7-1) is coming off a nice road win at Marian Catholic earlier this week. Carmel (17-10, 4-4) knocked off Joliet Catholic during the week as they've been a dangerous team in the ESCC. 

Class 2A Boys Basketball Regional Championships

Leo vs. Marshall, 6 p.m. -- The Lions are the favorites but the Commandos are the host of this regional title game. Leo (20-5, 8-0) has a 13-game winning streak as they won the Catholic League White. Marshall (8-17, 4-5) struggled in the win column but they were a competitive 4-5 in a very deep Public League Red-South. 

Uplift vs. Northridge, 7 p.m. -- This should be an interesting battle as Uplift is playing on the road at Northridge. Uplift (17-9, 6-3) has played an extremely competitive schedule that includes a recent close loss to No. 1 Simeon as Kansas commit Markese Jacobs and senior forward Toraze Dobbs are one of the best combinations in the Class 2A field. Northridge (22-5, 12-0) went unbeaten in the Independent School League this season as they're riding a 13-game winning streak.

Class 1A Boys Basketball Regional Championships 

Aurora Christian vs. Harvest Christian, 7 p.m. -- These two teams play for the third time this season in what should be an interesting regional title game. Aurora Christian (23-1, 10-0) is the host as they only lost to Winnebago this season. The Eagles beat Harvest Christian twice in a six-day span in December. Harvest Christian (18-8, 8-2) finished third in the Northeastern Athletic as they played the second game within two points. 

Class 1A Girls Basketball State Semifinals

Okaw Valley vs. Stockton, 11 a.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Okaw Valley (29-5) is making its first state appearance after winning its first regional title in school history. Stockton (31-2) finished under .500 last season (13-15) and had an amazing turnaround that includes a current 15-game winning streak. 

Lebanon vs. Schlarman, 12:45 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- These two teams have combined for two losses this season as this should be a good one. Lebanon (31-1) just won its first sectional title in school history as they've now moved on to state. Schlarman (31-1) is led by junior Anaya Peoples, a Notre Dame commit and five-star prospect in the Class of 2019. 

Class 2A Girls Basketball State Semifinals

Harlan vs. Eureka, 5:30 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Two red-hot teams play in the first semifinal in Class 2A. Harlan (25-6) is riding a 12-game winning streak as this is its first appearance at state for girls basketball. Eureka (28-3) has a 19-game winning streak as they make their first state appearance since 1988.

Marshall vs. Teutopolis, 7:15 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Two storied programs in the state match up in this one. Marshall (20-7) will be making its 21st state appearance as head coach Dorothy Gaters is one of the most storied coaches in Illinois. Teutopolis is making its 17th appearance at state as the Lady Shoes (28-6) seek their first title since 1995. 

Check out the AP boys basketball polls as regular season winds down


Check out the AP boys basketball polls as regular season winds down

Here is the latest AP boys basketball polls. The girls basketball polls are done with the playoffs underway in all four classes.

Class 4A

School                                 W-L       Pts   Prv

1. Simeon (9)                      25-3      90    1

2. Belleville West                23-2      75    3

3. Curie                                22-3      74     2

4. Danville                           23-2      67      4

5. Whitney Young               22-7     52     T5

6. Normal West                   21-6     28     T5

7. Quincy                              19-4      21     T10

8. Bloomington                   18-7      15     8

9. Evanston                          20-5      14     7

10. New Trier                       22-3       12     NR

Others receiving votes: Moline 11, Niles North 10, Lisle (Benet Academy) 10, St. Viator 5, Naperville North 4, Maine South 2, Rockford Jefferson 1.

Class 3A

School                                            W-L          Pts    Prv

1. Morgan Park (7)                       18-9         88     2

2. Springfield Southeast (2)        22-3         82     1

3. Marian Catholic                        20-4         67     4

4. Hillcrest                                      21-5         57     5

(tie) Springfield Lanphier             22-3         57     3

6. Alton Marquette                       28-0         44      6

7. Centralia                                    21-4          32      7

8. DePaul College Prep                20-6          31      8

9. Champaign Central                  17-7          13      10

10. Decatur MacArthur                 18-8         9        NR

Others receiving votes: Lincoln 6, Burlington Central 6, Bogan 3.

Class 2A

School                                       W-L          Pts     Prv

1. Orr (11)                                 23-4         110     1

2. Warsaw West Hancock      22-2         83       3

3. Pinckneyville                       25-3         76       T4

4. Winnebago                          24-2         75       2

5. Monticello                            22-1         69       6

6. Leo                                        19-5         65       T4

7. Bloomington Central Catholic       21-6         42   8

8. Effingham St. Anthony                    25-3         23   7

9. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley               24-3         12   NR

10. Trenton Wesclin                             24-4         9     NR

Others receiving votes: Eldorado 7, Corliss 6, St. Joseph-Ogden 6, Bureau Valley 5, Uplift 5 Teutopolis 4, Williamsville 3, Quincy Notre Dame 2, Farmington  2, Casey-Westfield 1

Class 1A

School                                      W-L          Pts      Prv

1. Aurora Christian (9)            22-1        108      1

2. DePue (1)                              24-2        85        2

3. East Dubuque (1)                26-3        80        4

4. Annawan                              25-3        75        5

5. Payson Seymour                 26-2        68        3

6. Sterling Newman                 23-4       57        6

7. Colfax Ridgeview                  24-4       48        7

8. New Berlin                             25-3       33        8

9. Cairo                                       21-5       22        9

10. Nokomis                              21-7         9        NR

Others receiving votes: Newark 8, Quest Academy 5, Milford 4, Cissna Park 2. Okawville 1.