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

61 Days to Kickoff: Maine West

61 Days to Kickoff: Maine West

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: Maine West

Head coach: Jason Kradman

Assistant coaches: Steve Piha (Def. Coordinator), Mike O'Brill (DB/ST Coordinator), Tony Manicke (LB/Head JV Coach), Dan Wilson (OL) Russ Swenson (TE) Ryan Willett (QB) Matt Boswell (DL) Trent Greco (WR) Kyle Prater (WR) Mike Smith (Head Frosh Coach) Joe Duszynski (Frosh Asst.) and DJ Frey (Frosh Asst.).

How they fared in 2017: 7-3 (4-1 Central Suburban North Conference). Maine West made the Class 7A state football playoff field. The Warriors lost to Benet Academy in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Mundelein

Sept. 1 @ Fenton

Sept. 7 vs Elk Grove

Sept. 14 @ Hersey

Sept. 21 vs Glenbrook North

Sept. 28 @ Maine East

Oct. 5 vs Vernon Hills

Oct. 12 vs Highland Park

Oct. 19 @ Deerfield

[MORE: 65 Days to Kickoff - Elmwood Park]

Biggest storyline: Will history repeat itself? Can the Warriors post back-to-back IHSA state playoff appearances? If so, it'd be a first for the Des Plaines high school.

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Jake Bellizzi, FB/LB Krystian Garbicz and WR/DB Ely Grimmer

Biggest holes to fill: The Warriors will need to replace standout TE Matt Kentgen (now at Butler). He was a multi-year starter and team leader last fall.  

EDGY's Early Take: Maine West, coached by Jason Kradman, has been one of the area's better success stories. Kradman took over the Warriors program in 2014 and guided the Warriors to their first state playoff appearance since 2002. With 13 returning starters back from a season ago (seven offense, six defense) and a program-wide boost in overall numbers and excitement, look for the Warriors to have a good shot at playoff football once again this October.

62 Days to Kickoff: Lincoln Park

62 Days to Kickoff: Lincoln Park

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: Lincoln Park

Head coach: Vince DeFrancesco

Assistant coaches: Steve Karoff, Grant Magnuson, Tyler Clark, Brandon Randolph, Alex Green and Tom Dellota

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (7-0 Chicago Public League Chicago Big Shoulders Conference). Lincoln Park made the Class 7A state football playoff field. The Lions lost to Alton in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ IWT Speer

Sept. 1 vs. Kenwood

Sept. 7 vs. Hubbard

Sept. 14 @ Phillips

Sept. 21 vs. Lane Tech

Sept. 28 vs. Taft

Oct. 5 vs. Westinghouse

Oct. 12 vs. Raby

Oct. 19 vs. Morgan Park

Biggest storyline: The Lions' new conference. Can Lincoln Park keep its winning ways when they start playing in the CPL/Illini Land of Lincoln this fall?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Dane Romberger and DB Jalen Jenkins

Biggest holes to fill: The Lions will need to reload on the offensive side of the football this summer with just three starters back this fall.

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Vince DeFrancesco's Lions have been on a nice roll, getting to the IHSA state playoffs in each of his past three seasons (four straight for the school overall). However, the price for the Lions' success is extremely high. The CPL Illini Land of Lincoln is loaded. The schedule includes the likes of Kenwood, Hubbard, Phillips, Raby and Morgan Park...just to name a few. If the Lions can develop their less experienced offense this summer, all the better for them.