Preps Talk

Bolingbrook takes third in Class 4A with win over Fremd

Bolingbrook takes third in Class 4A with win over Fremd

Bolingbrook captured third place in Class 4A boys basketball with a tight 70-66 win over Fremd on Saturday night in Peoria.

The Raiders had a balanced scoring effort in which five players ended up in double-figures.

Senior Malik Binns led Bolingbrook with 18 points while senior Nana Akenten, a Nebraska commit, added 16 points for the Raiders. Sophomore Joseph Yesufu (12 points) knocked in two key free throws for the Raiders to make it a three-point game with under 10 seconds left while sophomore Tyler Cochran also added 11 points for Bolingbrook. Senior Kaleb Thornton rounded out the double-figure scorers for Bolingbrook by chipping in 10 points.

"Coming into the state tournament, Coach [Robert Brost] emphasized a lot that there's only two teams in the state able to win their last game," Akenten said. "Like Coach said, we wanted to play for the state championship, but we lost our last game, so we came out here and fought."

The Raiders (30-2) finish this season as champions of the SouthWest Suburban Blue while they were also ranked as the No. 1 team in the CSN Preps Power Rankings for a good chunk of time in the middle of the season. When you consider that this Bolingbrook team also added three offseason transfers and played a lot of underclassmen, it was a very successful season for Bolingbrook.

The third-place title for the Raiders is tied for the best finish ever for their boys basketball program after they also placed third in Class 4A in 2015.

"I just couldn't be prouder of our guys," Bolingbrook coach Robert Brost said. 

"I'm so proud of these boys, not for the players that they are, but for the human beings they are. They geniunely care about each other. And they genuinely care about the coaching staff."

Finishing its season at 31-2,  Fremd's fourth-place finish is tied for the best ever for school's boys basketball program as the Mid-Suburban League champions were led by senior Kyle Sliwa's 25 points.

Sliwa's three-pointer with 2:35 left gave the Vikings a 64-63 lead that they held for nearly two minutes until Binns made two free throws to give the Raiders the lead that they held for good.

Luke Schoffstall finished with 16 points for the Vikings while Ryan Martin also finished in double-figures with 11 points. Fremd has finished two of the last four seasons unbeaten in the regular season as the team's seniors are hoping to continue to lay a foundation for future Fremd basketball success.

"We had a pretty historic season. No one really expected us to be anything this year," Fremd senior Shaan Patel said. "We came out and we believed in ourselves when nobody else would believe in us. Between all of us, we've been playing together since the fourth grade, and we had confidence in each other."

Max Christie selects Michigan State over Duke, several Big Ten schools

Max Christie selects Michigan State over Duke, several Big Ten schools

Sparty Nation got another reason to flex. And it may have Coach K seeing green.

Max Christie, a five-star shooting guard (Rivals) and the top Illinois player in the Class of 2021, is headed to play for Michigan State and legendary head coach Tom Izzo. The Rolling Meadows High School product made his decision Tuesday in an interview with Fox’s Andy Katz.

“It just felt like it was a place that I was needed and a place I wanted to go to,” Christie said. “I think Coach Izzo and his staff and all my teammates there can push me to be the person I want to be, not just on, but off the court.”

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Christie selected Michigan State —his only official visit— over, namely, Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke. Also on his list of potential choices were Villanova, Virginia, Purdue, Ohio State, Northwestern, Illinois and several others. While Christie is excited for Izzo to help improve his game, he also prides himself on his versatility and making an immediate impact.

“I think I can be a great facilitator and a great scorer,” Christie said. “I feel like I can do anything that Coach Izzo or the players need be to do if that means rebounding, pushing the ball, setting up an offense or coming off screens, I feel like I am versatile enough of anything that is asked of me.”

The 6-foot-6 Christie may get another boost on the court a few years down the line, as Class of 2022 phenom Emoni Bates, the top player in the current junior class, committed to play for MSU on June 30. All of this assumes Bates keeps his commitment to East Lansing and doesn’t hop the NBA. Christie remains steadfast in his committed to Michigan State and is not exploring any G-League options at the moment.

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Christie has grabbed headlines in Chicagoland since his freshman year. He has tallied a 50-point game and a triple double and had several clutch moments during his junior season. He is coming off the first 20-win campaign at ‘Meadows in nearly 30 years.

And there’s more Christie magic in the pipeline. Cameron, his younger brother, is one of the quickly-rising sophomores in the area.

Illinois high school boys basketball state finals return to Champaign

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USA Today

Illinois high school boys basketball state finals return to Champaign

It’s time to party like it’s 1995 —especially if you’re a high school basketball fan who likes watching the game in the Champaign-Urbana area.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) board of directors voted Monday to move the host venue for the boys state basketball finals from Peoria to Champaign’s renovated State Farm Center for the next three seasons.

“We see this as the passing of the torch from Peoria to Champaign-Urbana,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “It is bittersweet because there is incredible passion from high school basketball within these two communities, and both have done so much to elevate the state final experience as hosts. The State Farm Center is one of the best arenas in the country, and we are excited to crown state champions there once again. The timing simply felt right to make a change as the tournament format shifts in 2021."

The boys tournament will run on March 11-13, 2021, March 10-12, 2022 and March 9-11, 2023.

“We are thrilled with today’s news that the Illinois high school boys basketball state finals will return home to the campus of the University of Illinois, Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “We are grateful to the IHSA and its leadership for choosing State Farm Center and Champaign-Urbana to host the state finals.

The boys tournament, which had been located in Champaign for 77 years, moved to Peoria’s Civic Center (Carver Arena) starting in 1996. The girls tournament was also in Champaign until 1992 before moving to Redbird Arena. The girls tournament will remain in Normal.

The Champaign area was steeped in prep basketball glory for generations. The first televised championship came in 1952 when Hebron, a school of 98 students defeated a Quincy school boasting an enrollment over 1,000. Six years later, the first Chicago school —Marshall— won state. In 1972, the tournament was split into Class A (small schools) and AA (large schools). The late Ben Wilson helped Simeon win in a title in Champaign in 1984 while future NBA stars (Kevin Garnett, Melvin Ely) and NFL receivers (Antwaan Randle El and Tai Streets) graced the floor at Assembly Hall during the 1995 tournament.

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The next year was a perfect one for the city of Peoria to grab the reins for the boys tournament. Hometown Manual High School won their third and fourth consecutive state titles in 1996 and 1997. Later, Derrick Rose guided Simeon to back-to-back state titles in 2006 and 2007. A four-class system was instituted for the 2007-08 season. Simeon dominated again from 2010-13 with Jabari Parker in the spotlight.

This year’s basketball tournaments were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.