Preps Talk

High School Lites hoops preview: Week 4

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High School Lites hoops preview: Week 4

It's a special Saturday night, holiday tournament edition of High School Lites this week as we'll have highlights of some of the best high school basketball action from across the area. 

While some events like the Wheeling Hardwood Classic and Hinkle Holiday Classic are playing championship games on Saturday night other events like the Proviso West, Big Dipper (Rich South), Jack Tosh (York) and the inaugural Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic are tipping off the opening day of action.

Here's a rundown of some local holiday tournaments we'll have highlights of. You can catch High School Lites on SATURDAY night at 11 p.m. on CSN and CSNChicago.com and we'll also air the next broadcast of the show on Saturday as well.

WHEELING HARDWOOD CLASSIC

The championship of the Wheeling Hardwood Classic will feature No. 14 Notre Dame taking on Libertyville. The Dons were the favorites to win this event entering the week and have performed up to expectations so far. Senior big men Ammar Becar and Anthony D'Avanzo have performed well at times during the event and they'll take on the Wildcats and talented sophomore forward Drew Peterson.

In the third-place game, No. 19 Naperville Central will battle Lake Park.

PROVISO WEST HOLIDAY BASKETBALL INVITATIONAL 

One of the area's premier holiday tournaments tips on Saturday at Proviso West as this 16-team field features five ranked teams and many other talented teams who have been in the CSN Preps Power Rankings at some point this season.

No. 1 Morgan Park will be the clear favorite entering the field, but Fenwick and St. Joseph are both unbeaten entering the tournament and teams like Bogan, Whitney Young, Proviso East, Uplift, Larkin and Hillcrest are all dangerous.

Here's the opening-day schedule (in bracket order):

New Trier vs. Cathedral Catholic, CA., 8:30
Proviso West vs. (9) Bogan, 7
Whitney Young vs. Morton, 5:30
(3) Fenwick vs. Von Steuben, 4
Proviso East vs. Uplift, 2
(1) Morgan Park vs. Providence-St. Mel, 12:30
(5) St. Joseph vs. Dunbar, 11 a.m.
(24) Hillcrest vs. Larkin, 9:30 a.m.

JACK TOSH HOLIDAY CLASSIC AT YORK HIGH SCHOOL 

With a ridiculous 32-team field, the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York is one of the most difficult events to win in the area. Now that Evan Boudreaux has graduated from Lake Forest, the Scouts are no longer the favorite, but there's still plenty of great teams in the field including a top-ten team in Riverside-Brookfield.

Other ranked teams in the field include Downers South, Oswego, De La Salle, Hinsdale South and Stagg. There are also plenty of other talented teams including Conant, Wheaton North, St. Patrick, York and returning champion Lake Forest.

St. Laurence vs. (21) Downers Grove South, 9 a.m.
Palatine vs. Elk Grove, 10:30 a.m.
Sandburg vs. Conant, noon
Nazareth vs. Wheaton North, 1:30
Highland Park vs. (16) Oswego, 3:30
Lyons vs. St. Patrick, 5
St. Ignatius vs. Glenbard East, 6:30
Schaumburg vs. York, 8
Providence vs. (23) De La Salle, 8:30 a.m.
Metea Valley vs. Batavia, 10 a.m.
McHenry vs. Minooka, 11:30 a.m.
Lane vs. (22) Hinsdale South, 1
Rolling Meadows vs. (7) Riverside-Brookfield, 3
Lake Forest vs. T.F. South, 4:30
Waubonsie Valley vs. (17) Stagg, 6
Timothy Christian vs. Naperville North, 7:30

HINSDALE CENTRAL HOLIDAY CLASSIC

It's the inaugural year of the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic and with some quality programs from all over the area, this tournament will only continue to get better. Defending Class 4A champion Stevenson is a headliner in this one while Rockford Auburn, St. Charles East and Maine South are some of the better teams in the field. 

Richards vs. Hope Academy, 9:30 a.m.
Stevenson vs. Foreman, 11 a.m.
Homewood-Flossmoor vs. Lincoln Park, 12:30
Rockford Auburn vs. Westinghouse, 2
St. Charles East vs. DePaul Prep, 3:45
Maine South vs. Urban Prep-Englewood, 5:15
Hinsdale Central vs. Crete-Monee, 7
Crespi (CA) vs. Perspectives-MSA, 8:30

HINKLE HOLIDAY CLASSIC AT JACOBS HIGH SCHOOL 

Out in the Fox Valley, the Hinkle Holiday Classic will close up shop on Saturday night as the championship game will feature Zion-Benton battling Rockford Boylan. The Zee-Bees are off to a quietly good start this season and Boylan is once against a powerhouse in the Rockford area.

Barrington takes on host Jacobs in the third-place game.

RICH SOUTH BIG DIPPER HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

This could be the final year of the Big Dipper being at full strength as this south suburban classic once again has a very good field. Marian Catholic and Thornton will be the favorites entering the weekend but teams like Joliet Central, Leo and Lincoln-Way Central are off to good starts this season.

Bolingbrook vs. Butler, 9 a.m.
Hales vs. Lincoln-Way Central, 10:30 a.m.
Rich East vs. Leo, noon
(20) Thornton vs. Perspectives-Calumet, 1:30
Joliet Central vs. King, 4
Rich South vs. U-High, 5:30
Rich Central vs. Marquette, 7
(11) Marian Catholic vs. Tinley Park, 8:30

High School Lites Preview: Week 9

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NBC Sports Chicago

High School Lites Preview: Week 9

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 9 edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Can Perspectives beat Solorio and get a shot at the state playoff field? Can Bolingbrook upset the Big Cobalt Blue Machine at Lincoln-Way East? Can Marist post a perfect ESCC season and beat Benet Academy in Lisle? Can Wheaton North upset Batavia and sneak into the state playoffs with a win? And who wins the CCL Blue championship game? Brother Rice? Montini?

Solorio vs. Perspectives, 3:45 p.m. at Stagg Stadium

EDGY's Take: Both Solorio (5-3, 2-2) and Perspectives (4-4, 0-4) are in must-win mode. They are both seeking a Week 9 win. Solorio is in with a win. Should Perspectives win, both teams will then await their state playoff fate on Saturday night when the IHSA pairings are released. Solorio head coach Bill Ziemba has playmakers in NIU commit WR/DB Messian Travis and with QB Tyrell Williams. Will the Sun Warriors be ready for an equally-hungry Perspectives team? The Warriors, with head coach Terry Jones at the helm, also have talent this season. It includes senior OL/DL Dominic Moore (6-foot-7, 290 pounds). He is one of the state's top uncommitted names. Can the Perspectives defense slow down and contain Solorio's skills department and overall big play ability?

EDGY's Pick: Solorio 28 Perspectives 16 

Dundee-Crown at Huntley, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Dundee-Crown (4-4, 3-4) is looking for their first playoff berth since 2013. A win by the Chargers would get them, at least, in the postseason conversation. Head coach Michael Steinhaus has a strong passing attack this fall led by under-the-radar QB Joshua Raby. TE/DE Justin Prusko is a name to watch as well. Huntley (5-3, 5-2) head coach Matt Zimolzak has also gotten a big season from his quarterback. Chris Raffin and the Red Raiders have several weapons on offense including WR Connor Fitzgerald. Can the Huntley defense get a consistent pass rush against the Dundee-Crown line? Can Dundee-Crown keep their offense on the field and win in a shootout?

EDGY's Pick: Huntley 34 Dundee-Crown 24

Lisle at Coal City, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lisle (8-0, 4-0) is having a terrific season under Hall of Fame head coach Paul Parpet. They are conference champs for the first time since 1981. Coach Parpet will rely on a very productive offense led by QB Jay McGrath and top receiver Jake Kowal. This is an Interstate Eight crossover against Coal City (7-1, 4-0), who will be going to the postseason for the eighth year in a row. Head coach Dan Hutchings has a balanced offensive attack led by junior QB Payton Hutchings, RB Connor Skubc and RB Dan Jezic. On defense, the Coalers defense have allowed just 42 points on the season. Can the Lisle offense consistently move the chains against the Coal City defense?

EDGY's Pick: Coal City 31 Lisle 27

Payton vs Kenwood, 7:15 p.m. at Gately Stadium

EDGY's Take: Payton (8-0, 4-0) and Kenwood (8-0, 4-0) are playing for the Chicago Public League Illini Prairie State conference title. Head coach George Klupchak has his Grizzles rolling behind QB Sage Shindler and RB Damien Goodman. The Payton defense has also been strong all season. Kenwood and head coach Sinque Turner has also an All-State caliber playmaker in senior WR/DB Mark Aitken (NIU). He is joined by a ton of speed on both sides of the football. Last possession wins?
 
EDGY's Pick: Kenwood 35 Payton 21

(16) Bolingbrook at (1) Lincoln-Way East, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lincoln-Way East (8-0, 6-0) hasn't lost a regular season game since September 9, 2016. The 2018 Griffins are --once again-- stacked on both sides of the football. Keep an eye on QB Jack Baltz (Illinois State), RB Devon Williams, WR Jackson Ritter and WR Matt Judd. Bolingbrook (7-1, 5-1) have won four straight after a Week 4 loss to H-F. The Raiders, under head coach John Ivlow, have talent in the backfield with senior RB Anthony Williams Jr. (Michigan State) along with senior RB Quentin Pringle (Eastern Kentucky). The Bolingbrook defense has allowed just 80 points in 2018. Can Bolingbrook run the football consistently against the Lincoln-Way East defense?

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 28 Bolingbrook 20

(4) Marist at Benet, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Marist (7-1, 6-0) has won the East Suburban Catholic Conference. They are looking to finish with a win and earn a high seed in Class 8A. Marist head coach Ron Dawczak has received a huge season from senior QB Mike Markett. He has several weapons including WR Billy Skalitzky and WR Jadon Thompson. The Redhawks defense has been a strength as well. Keep an eye on senior S Kendric Nowling (Easter Michigan). Benet Academy (6-2, 4-2) and head coach Pat New will look towards QB Collin Gillespie and RB Ben Hickey as the keys on offense. The Redwings defense is also a strength. Watch for DL Jacob Snell and DE Jack Benish to make plays. Can the Benet defense limit the amount of Marist offensive touches? 

EDGY's Pick: Marist 34 Benet Academy 21

(2) Batavia at Wheaton North, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Batavia (8-0, 6-0) has locked up the DuKane Conference title, but they still have plenty to play for here including a high seed in the 7A playoff field. That, and a perfect 9-0 regular season, of course. Batavia last earned such a mark in 2015. The Bulldogs and head coach Dennis Piron will rely on a balanced offense with QB Jack Meyers and RB Art Taylor. The defense is anchored by LB Michael Jansey (Northwestern) and LB Luke Weerts (North Dakota State). Wheaton North (4-4, 3-3) and head coach Joe Wardynski are in must-win mode. The Falcons will look to the offense to be a catalyst. The unit is led by RB Antowon Tolbert and QB Nathan Love. On defense, the Falcons will need to slow down a very balanced Batavia offense. Can Wheaton North's defense force Batavia into turnovers? 

EDGY's Pick: Batavia 41 Wheaton North 20

(3) Brother Rice at (17) Montini, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: The Chicago Catholic Blue conference championship game features Brother Rice (8-0, 3-0) taking on Montini Catholic (8-0, 3-0). Crusaders head coach Brian Badke features an offense led by QB John Bean, RB Jessi Plunkett and WR Dylan Summers. They have big and physical offensive line as well. On the other side of the ball, Rice's defense has allowed just 52 points all season. Montini Catholic and second year head coach Mike Bukovsky feature a two quarterback system. Deontay Brown and Robert Brazziel have shared the position quite well. RB Nick Fedanzo (Illinois) and WR Nate Muersch are names to watch. The Montini defense has also been strong this season, allowing just 46 points in eight games. Can the Montini defense slow down the Crusaders running game? Can the Rice defense limit the Broncos' multiple offensive weapons?

EDGY's Pick: Brother Rice 21 Montini Catholic 14

Viewers' Choice Game 

Schaumburg at Fremd, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Both Schaumburg (4-4, 1-3) and Fremd (4-4, 3-1) are playing for their IHSA playoff lives. Head coach Lou Sponsel and the Vikings got out of the gates slow (0-3 record) but the Vikings found a spark behind RB-converted-to-QB Nick Rattin. That, along with a big and physical offensive and defensive lines could help reverse a 1-8 season quite nicely should Fremd win. Schaumburg, under head coach Mark Stilling, will be trying to get the Saxons on track. They have dropped three of their last four games. The Saxons have lots of speed and big play potential with senior WR/DB Heze Trotter along with sophomore RB Michael DiGioia. Can the Fremd defense limit the big play ability of Schaumburg?

EDGY's Pick: Fremd 24 Schaumburg 17

Beware of the Attack of the Lower Seeds

Beware of the Attack of the Lower Seeds

With the upcoming IHSA football playoff pairings announcement on Saturday night, here are some teams with modest win-loss records who opponents probably wouldn’t want to see in the early rounds of the postseason.

Loyola Academy (5-3): The Ramblers have struggled this season. But head coach John Holocek has, once again, led his team to the state playoff field. So what gives? Loyola has been inconsistent on offense and has turned the football over way too often. The team has also been dealing with various injuries. But the defense (minus a 35-3 loss to Brother Rice) has generally played well this season. If the Ramblers can clean up the turnovers and find a way to get their offense back in a rhythm, this team can undoubtedly surprise some teams along the way in Class 8A. 

Neuqua Valley (5-3): The Wildcats and head coach Bill Ellinghaus have dropped three tight games this season including a last possession, 21-14 decision to DuPage Valley Conference champion Naperville Central two weeks ago. If the Wildcats can continue to get steady production from a balanced offense, led by RB Will Cheviliar and QB John Gronowski, the defense is capable of keeping Neuqua Valley in every game this postseason.

Aurora Christian (5-3): Coach Dave Beebe’s Eagles have lost to three playoff-bound teams this season with a combined 21-3 record (IC Prep, St. Francis and Bishop McNamara). They have a potent spread-passing attack led by sophomore QB Ethan Hampton. Aurora Christian is also slated to wind up in the Class 1A bracket on pairings night. Their dynamic offense and passing game in general could be a tough matchup for opponents in, what usually is, Class 1A North bracket with teams that generally run the ball.

Barrington (5-3): The Broncos, under head coach Joe Sanchez, have also been dealing with a rash of mid-season injuries; that said, it looks like Barrington is getting healthy at the right time. Junior QB Tommy Fitzpatrick is back from injury and is a key catalyst for any Barrington postseason run. Fitzpatrick has weapons in junior WR EJ Darlington and senior RB Michael Curran. 

Lake Zurich (5-3): The Bears made a starting quarterback change last week as Jack Moses took the reins. He promptly led the Bears to a 42-0 win over Mundelein. If the Bears can limit turnovers and continue to get strong production from their offense, the L-Z defense is more than capable of making life very difficult for any higher seeds that they could draw in the 7A state playoff field. 

Edwardsville (5-3): The Tigers hit a rough patch starting the season with a 1-3 record. But they currently boast a four-game winnings streak heading into Friday night’s tilt at Collinsville. Edwardsville is led by senior QB Kendall Abdur Rahman (Notre Dame) and is a gamebreaker every time he touches the football. Sophomore RB Justin Johnson (and the team in general) possesses a ton of speed. There are athletes and playmakers on both sides of the football. 

Here are some more lower seeds who could wreak havoc:

Providence Catholic (5-3): If the Celtics can get their running game going, beware. 

Raby (5-3): The Raiders could be a handful in 4A.

St. Charles East (4-4): The Saints’ power-option game is always tough to defend. 

Joliet Catholic (4-4): IF the Hilltoppers can beat Notre Dame on Friday, they could be a very tough out in 5A.

Crystal Lake South (5-3): A huge offensive line leads the way for the Gators. 

Zion-Benton (4-4): The Zee-Bees can put as much talent on the field than most of their opponents. 

Lemont (4-4): Needs a win Friday over rival Oak Forest. If the offense can keep the chains moving, the Indians’ defense can do the rest. 

Crete-Monee (5-3): They are the Southland conference champs. Their first two losses in 2018? Lincoln-Way East (8-0) and Brother Rice (8-0).

Thornton (4-4): The Wildcats will need to upset Lincoln Way Central Friday. Thornton always has talent.