Preps Talk

High School Lites preview: Holiday tournament warmup

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High School Lites preview: Holiday tournament warmup

Call it the proverbial calm before the storm. Prep basketball tournaments, from Proviso West to Rich South, Pontiac to Normal and Springfield to Centralia will be in full swing next week. This weekend's games represent an appetizer to the main dish after Christmas.

But players and coaches alike will tell you that the so-called appetizer contests cannot be taken lightly, especially if they are conference battles. Or if they happen to feature bitter rivals.

Both classifications come into play for New Trier and Evanston Thursday night. The girls and boys teams will grace Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena. Who will take the early-season bragging rights?

Also, Mundelein and Zion-Benton meet Friday in a key early-season North Suburban Lake showdown. Plus, Maine South is off to a quick start, but how will they fare at Waukegan's Dog Pound?

Here is a snapshot of every boys basketball game we will profile on Friday's High School Lites at 10:30 p.m. The rankings reflect the latest CSN Top 20:

Thursday games

Girls: New Trier vs. Evanston at Welsh-Ryan Arena, 6:00 p.m.

CICS-Ellison at Providence-St. Mel, 6:00 p.m.

Amundsen at Foreman, 6:15 p.m.

Boys: New Trier vs. Evanston (at Welsh-Ryan Arena), 8:00 p.m.

Friday games

Brooks at No. 2 Simeon, 4:30 p.m.

Montini at Reavis, 6:00 p.m.

Lyons at Oak Park-River Forest. 6:00 p.m.

Hales Franciscan at No. 17 St. Ignatius, 7:00 p.m.

Seton Academy at Leo, 7:30 p.m.

Mundelein at No. 17 Zion-Benton, 7:30 p.m.

Maine South at Waukegan, 7:30 p.m.

Our Muscle Milk team of the Week is Benet Academy's boys basketball team. It's already been an impressive year for this west-suburban school. The girls volleyball team won state for the second consecutive year and the football team produced one of the best seasons in school history (11-2 record; semifinal playoff berth). What can head coach Gene Heidkamp and company do to continue the momentum? The Redwings have a few marquee wins this year and feature the likes of 6-foot-9 center Sean O'Mara and 6-foot-5 forward Pat McInerney. Benet won the prestigious Proviso West Holiday Tournament in 2010. Can they do it again in 2012?

We'll also have a complete recap of Simeon's week-that-was in our Drive segment, which will include highlights of Jabari Parker's college selection press conference. We will also stay on the south side for our Allstate Athlete of the Week: Lemont's Juozas Balciunas. And as always, well take a drive down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment and bring you up-to-the-minute scores and highlights from across Chicagoland.

High School Lites streams live this Friday night on CSNChicago.com.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well. Check us out at: highschoollites@comcastsportsnet.com

Edgy Tim's Preps Power Rankings: Championship Round

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's Preps Power Rankings: Championship Round

Here are the latest @NBCSPreps Top 25 Power Rankings.

1. Brother Rice 13-0 (3)
Last Week: Beat Marist, 14-3
This Week: Class 8A state title game vs Loyola
EDGY's Take: The Crusaders defense loomed large. Then Rice's offense, led by QB John Bean, did the rest. It added up to a 14-3 win at a packed house at Marist. And it'll be the first IHSA state title game appearance for Brother Rice since 1985. 

2. Nazareth Academy 12-1 (8)
Last Week: Beat Batavia, 47-28
This Week: Class 7A state title game vs St. Charles North
EDGY's Take: The Roadrunners offense, featuring QB J.J. McCarthy and RB Michael Love, has remained on fire in the postseason. Nazareth pulled away late in beating Batavia to advance to the 7A state title game. 

3. Loyola Academy 10-3 (12)
Last Week: Beat Lincoln-Way East, 24-16
This Week: Class 8A State Title Game vs Brother Rice
EDGY's Take: The Ramblers defense, once again, set the tempo. They forced a few key first half turnovers while QB Jack Fallon and WR Rory Boos did the rest in stunning Lincoln-Way East. Loyola gets a rematch with CCL Blue rival Brother Rice on Saturday. 

4. Cary-Grove 13-0 (7)
Last Week: Beat Notre Dame, 28-21
This Week: Class 6A state title game vs Crete-Monee
EDGY's Take: The Trojans win a classic over Notre Dame on Saturday, with Danny Daigle's late touchdown being the difference. The Trojans get a rematch from the 2012 6A state title game this Saturday against Crete-Monee. 

5. Lincoln-Way East 12-1 (1)
Last Week: Lost to Loyola, 24-16
This Week: Season Completed
EDGY's Take: The Griffins started out slow and never recovered in their loss to Loyola. The Griffins offense was held to a season low 16 points in the loss. 

6. Marist 11-2 (4)
Last Week: Lost to Brother Rice, 14-3
This Week: Season Completed
EDGY's Take: The Redhawks defense kept them in the game but the offense just could not get into a higher gear. It's their second loss to rival Brother Rice this season. 

7. St. Charles North 10-3 (25)
Last Week: Beat Mount Carmel, 27-21 (2-OT)
This Week: Class 7A state title game vs Nazareth Academy
EDGY's Take: The North Stars just never quit. Senior ATH Tyler Nubin had a huge day when it counted for St. Charles North, who will make their first IHSA state title game appearance.

8. Batavia 12-1 (2)
Last Week: Lost to Nazareth Academy, 47-28
This Week: Season Completed
EDGY's Take: The Bulldogs battled back all game long. But in the end, they just couldn't keep pace with the Nazareth offense.  

9. Mount Carmel 11-2 (5)
Last Week: Lost to St. Charles North, 27-21 (2-OT)
This Week: Season Completed
EDGY's Take: The Caravan had their chances late against St Charles North but just couldn't finish.

10. Homewood-Flossmoor 10-2 (6)
Last Week: Season Completed
This Week: Season Completed

11. Simeon 11-1 (10)
Last Week: Season Completed
This Week: Season Completed

12. Maine South 10-2 (9)
Last Week: Season Completed
This Week: Season Completed

13. Montini Catholic 12-1 (19)
Last Week: Beat Sterling, 42-20
This Week: Class 5A state title game vs Joliet Catholic
EDGY's Take: The Broncos get a big road win at Sterling and will now try to beat Joliet Catholic in the 5A state title game-- a rematch of the epic 70-45 JCA win back in 2011. 

14. Crete-Monee 10-3 (NR)
Last Week: Beat Richards, 38-35
This Week: Class 6A State Title Game vs Cary-Grove
EDGY's Take: The Warriors, who started off 0-3, have simply been the Cinderella story of the postseason. They pulled out more last minute magic and stun Richards 38-35 to advance to the 6A state title game.

15. Warren Township 10-2 (11)
Last Week: Season Completed
This Week: Season Completed

16. Richards 12-1 (13)
Last Week: Lost to Crete-Monee, 38-35
This Week: Season Completed
EDGY's Take: The Bulldogs drop a heartbreaking 38-35 loss to Crete-Monee to end the season. 

17. Notre Dame 10-3 (24)
Last Week: Lost to Cary-Grove, 28-21
This Week: Season Completed
EDGY's Take: The Dons battled Cary-Grove and came up just short in a 28-21 loss on Saturday. Has any player ever meant more to Niles Notre Dame football than Ty Gavin? 

18. IC Catholic Prep 13-0 (23)
Last Week: Beat Richmond Burton, 28-9
This Week: Class 4A state title game vs Bishop McNamara
EDGY's Take: The Knights trailed Richmond-Burton at the half but then rallied for the 28-9 win. Can the Knights beat Bishop McNamara on Friday night for the second time this season. It's a Week 4 Metro Suburban Blue rematch. 

19. Joliet Catholic 9-4 (NR)
Last Week: Beat Hillcrest, 42-6
This Week: Class 5A state title game vs Montini Catholic
EDGY's Take: The Hilltoppers get another big game from their running game, led by RB Keenan Hailey. The JCA defense made several big stops in beating top seed Hillcrest on Saturday. Can JCA beat Montini this time around?

20. Willowbrook 11-1 (15)
Last Week: Season Completed
This Week: Season Completed

21. Phillips 9-3 (14)
Last Week: Season Completed
This Week: Season Completed

22. Bishop McNamara 12-1 (NR)
Last Week: Beat Rochester, 52-42
This Week: Class 4A state title game vs IC Catholic Prep
EDGY's Take: The Fightin' Irish get a huge day from senior RB Tyshon King and stun powerhouse Rochester to advance to the 4A state title game.

23. Oak Park-River Forest 8-3 (16)
Last Week: Season Completed
This Week: Season Completed

24. Wheaton South 10-2 (17)
Last Week: Season Completed
This Week: Season Completed

25. Oswego 10-1 (18)
Last Week: Season Completed
This Week: Season Completed
 

Preseason Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 1 Whitney Young

Preseason Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 1 Whitney Young

Whitney Young

2017-18 record: 28-8, 7-2 Public League Red-North/West

Postseason results: Lost to Belleville West in Class 4A state title game.

Players to watch: The junior backcourt of Fenwick transfer D.J. Steward and Tyler Beard is potentially the best in the state as both players are consensus top-75 national prospects. Senior Myles Baker is poised for a big season after some strong play last season. Other seniors like Justin Warren and Keenan Jones are great role players who have helped win plenty of games.

Why they're in the power rankings: After falling just short of back-to-back Class 4A championships last season, Whitney Young reloads to replace departed seniors like Javon Freeman and Xavier Castaneda. It's rare a high school team loses two Division I prospects and replenishes with a backcourt that could be better, but that's the case here with Whitney Young. The Dolphins have the upside to be the state's best team this season.

Did you know? Whitney Young has been a state final qualifier seven times -- including five times under current head coach Tyrone Slaughter.