Preps Talk

CSN Preps Boys Basketball Power Rankings: Week 5

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CSN Preps Boys Basketball Power Rankings: Week 5

The holiday season is officially over as tournaments have been completed and we get to see more conference matchups the next few weeks. 

It was a good chance to see some teams play some solid competition that they haven't played yet and it's hard to duck competition in a tournament setting.

While Morgan Park and Curie are clearly the top two teams in the area entering 2016, there was some shakeup in this week's @CSNPreps Power Rankings as eight new teams enter the picture. Some of these teams were in the mix before while others surprised with their play during the holiday season.

1. Morgan Park (10-1, 3-0) (1) - Morgan Park remains at No. 1 and they are the clear best team in the area entering 2016. Already owning wins over Simeon, Fenwick, Bogan, St. Joseph and Evanston, the Mustangs have a ridiculous five wins over top-10 opponents before the new year rolled around.

2. Curie (10-1, 4-0) (4) - The only team that can come close to Morgan Park's early-season resume is Curie, who hasn't technically lost a game yet (their one "loss" came via a forfeit after they beat Thon Maker and Orangeville Prep). The Pontiac wins over Simeon and Peoria Manual opened eyes that this could be Mike Oliver's best team at Curie yet.

3. Simeon (8-2, 2-1) (2) - Falling short at Pontiac was Simeon, who fell to Curie but still claimed third place with a dominating win over Joliet West. The Wolverines still have plenty of time and depth to remain in the city and state title race.

4. Kenwood (9-1, 4-0) (6) - Kenwood left Illinois for the holiday season and won a tournament in Missouri to move to 9-1 on the season. Their big question becomes how they stack up to the area's other elite teams? Kenwood's schedule hasn't been nearly as strong as many in the area.

5. Fenwick (11-1, 3-0) (3) - Fenwick made it to the championship at Proviso West and was in the game for a half against Morgan Park before succumbing to the Mustangs. Nice win for the Friars in the semifinals over Bogan.  

6. Bogan (10-3, 3-1) (9) - Senior guard James Jones might be the most underrated player in Illinois and he was once again outstanding at times during Proviso West. The Bengals captured third place with a convincing win over No. 7 St. Joseph. Senior point guard Bryce Barnes is getting a lot of late DI attention.

7. St. Joseph (11-2, 4-0) (5) - The unbeaten run finally ended for St. Joseph as they fell to Morgan Park and Bogan at Proviso West. They're still in great shape in Class 3A because Nick Rakocevic is a matchup problem. Freshman Marquise Walker is one to watch as the season rolls along.

8. Evanston (10-2, 3-0) (8) - Evanston went 3-1 in a tournament in Kentucky playing some tough national competition and they still have the talent to compete with anybody in Illinois. Junior guard Nojel Eastern needs to take his game to another level for the Wildkits to make a state title run.

9. Glenbard West (12-0, 1-0) (10) - Much like Kenwood, Glenbard West is off to a great start, but they haven't played elite local competition. That being said, senior Justin Pierce absolutely deserves to be in the All-Area discussion and he's a Player of the Year candidate at this point in the season.

10. Notre Dame (11-2, 1-1) (14) - Impressive comeback win in the championship game at Wheeling for Notre Dame and they have a lot of pieces that can help them if someone has an off night. One of the state's biggest teams, Notre Dame's key down the stretch might be the shooting and play of junior guard Matt Stritzel. 

11. Thornton (9-1, 3-0) (20) - The class of the south suburbs, Thornton had a great week in winning the Big Dipper and beating Marian Catholic in the championship game. Head coach Tai Streets has done a tremendous job building a winner in his first season and he has a lot of experienced guards stepping up so far this season.

12. York (10-3, 1-1) (NR) - York had perhaps the most surprising holiday tournament run as they won their own Jack Tosh Holiday Classic by winning five games and beating talented teams like Naperville North and Downers South. Playing stingy defense, the Dukes don't have the offensive firepower of some in the Power Rankings, but they get stops.

13. Marian Catholic (10-3, 2-0) (11) - Marian Catholic fell in the Big Dipper finals to Thornton and they'll have some work to do if they want to be the best team in the South Suburbs. The Spartans are young but they have the talent to make a major leap from now until the end of the season.

14. Joliet West (9-3, 2-1) (15) - Although Joliet West fell to Simeon in the third-place game at Pontiac it was still a strong showing for them as they knocked off Benet and took Peoria Manual to the brink in the semifinals. 

15. Naperville North (9-3, 2-1) (NR) - Naperville North made a big impression by making the championship at York and beating ranked teams like Hinsdale South and Riverside-Brookfield on the way there. With shooting and toughness, this team is a major contender in the DuPage Valley Conference.

16. Riverside-Brookfield (11-2, 4-0) (7) - Disappointing early loss for Riverside-Brookfield at York but Skyler Nash has looked good since joining the rotation and they should be able to shake off this loss and be a contender in Class 4A.

17. Benet (10-2, 1-1) (12) - Benet lost to Joliet West in the quarterfinals at Pontiac but rallied nicely to finish in fifth place after beating Oak Park-River Forest and Bloomington. The East Suburban Catholic Conference race will be brutal, but Benet is definitely in the mix.

18. Whitney Young (7-4, 2-1) (NR) - After dropping out of the Power Rankings, the Dolphins are back in after some good wins at Proviso West and a strong win in Michigan over unbeaten Muskegon. Sophomore guard Xavier Castenada continues to impress.

19. Farragut (12-2, 2-1) (NR) - Another team who quietly compiled wins in December was Farragut, who won holiday tournament in Missouri by winning every game by at least 20 points. Can the Admirals push Whitney Young in the Red-West?

20. Hinsdale South (10-3, 2-1) (22) - Hinsdale South fell short of the title game at York but still went 4-1 on the week and had a nice win over Downers South, a team that had previously beat them. Senior center Barret Benson continues to put up great numbers.

21. De La Salle (10-4, 1-2) (23) - De La Salle got caught napping in an early-morning game at York but came back to win four consecutive games and the consolation championship. Senior guard George Willborn is still very much in the All-Area discussion after an All-Tournament performance. 

22. Lake Zurich (10-3, 3-0) (NR) - Another team making a strong impression during holiday tournament week was Lake Zurich. The Bears weren't a top-four seed but made it to the championship before losing to Springfield Lanphier. 

23. Libertyville (9-4, 2-1) (NR) - Libertyville led Notre Dame by nine points at the half for the title at Wheeling before falling to the Dons. Sophomore Drew Peterson is a player to keep an eye on during the second half of the season.

24. Homewood-Flossmoor (7-3, 1-1) (NR) - The Vikings made a run to the finals at the inaugural Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic as football standout Kendric Pryor also showed that he can hoop with the best of them. 

25. Maine South (11-2, 3-0) (NR) - Maine South took third place at Hinsdale Central and it's even more impressive considering the 3-point ball wasn't consistently falling for them. 

NBC Sports Chicago's 100 Days to Kickoff

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USA Today

NBC Sports Chicago's 100 Days to Kickoff

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

In case you missed any of our previews, here is our rundown:

100. De La Salle

99. Crystal Lake South

98. Eisenhower

97. Back of the Yards

96. Jacobs

95. Waubonsie Valley

94. Kaneland

93. West Aurora

93 Days to Kickoff: West Aurora

93 Days to Kickoff: West Aurora

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: West Aurora

Head coach: Nate Eimer

Assistant coaches: Tony Melchiori, DC Bob Fowler, DL Patrick Stremel, LB Charlie Graves, DB Mike Runge, OL Joe Howell, RB Ron Murphy and QB Alex Shaw

How they fared in 2017: 7-3 (4-1 Upstate Eight Valley Conference). West Aurora made the IHSA Class 8A playoff field last season. The Blackhawks lost to Naperville Central 35-14 in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Larkin

Aug. 31 @ West Chicago

Sept. 7 vs Streamwood

Sept. 14 @ Glenbard East

Sept. 21 vs Bartlett

Sept. 28 vs Glenbard South

Oct. 5 @ Elgin

Oct. 12 vs East Aurora

Oct. 19 vs South Elgin

[MORE: 94 Days to Kickoff - Kaneland]

Biggest storyline: Game 11. Can the Blackhawks get back to the IHSA state playoffs for the fourth straight season and then advance past the opening round?

Names to watch this season: QB Will Tammaru, RB/DB JaQuan Buchanan and DT Denver Warren

Biggest holes to fill: The Blackhawks welcome back an impressive 17 starters (nine offense, eight defense) to the mix. However, the group will be a bit inexperienced in some spots on both the offensive and defensive line.  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blackhawks' turnaround under head coach Nate Eimer and staff has been a terrific story to follow. That said, the bar for West Aurora football has also been raised. No longer are they satisfied by just "getting" to state. The Blackhawks welcome back a deep group on both sides of the football led by a potentially high powered, balanced offense. On paper, this team has the makings of being one of the better Blackhawks teams in their history. They will challenge for the Upstate Eight conference title and get another shot at the Class 8A playoff field.