Preps Talk

VOTE: Wintrust Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

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NBC Sports Chicago

VOTE: Wintrust Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

Who wants is more?

NBC Sports Chicago and Wintrust present our “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week.” We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland’s top prep sports show, in the hands of passionate high school football followers. Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the @NBCSPreps crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night’s “High School Lites” broadcast at 11:00 p.m. The show also live streams at www.nbcsportschicago.com/watchlive and appears in the MyTeams app.  High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the following Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago. 

This week, we are going to spotlight some Chicago Public League Friday matinees. Teams are fighting for the playoffs and positioning in their respective conferences. Which game should we highlight in our coverage?

Sullivan vs. Kennedy, 4:15 p.m. at Winnemac Stadium

Von Steuben vs. Whitney Young, 4:15 p.m. at Rockne Stadium

CMA-Bronzeville vs. Clemente, 4:15 p.m. at Lane Tech

To participate, our fans are encouraged to do the following:

**Follow our NBC Sports Chicago preps Twitter page: @NBCSPreps.

**Note the pinned tweet that is atop the feed.

**Vote for the game you want NBC Sports Chicago to cover Friday night.

**Spread the word!

The poll will start promptly at 12:00 p.m. Monday. We will make an announcement with the official results on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week,” along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights, all season long.

Preps Basketball Power Rankings No. 12: Loyola Academy

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Preps Basketball Power Rankings No. 12: Loyola Academy

School: Loyola

2018-19 record: 22-12 (8-7 Catholic League Blue) 

Postseason results: Lost to Evanston in Class 4A sectional finals.

Players to watch: Senior forwards Bennett (Siena) and Jordan Kwiecinski (Drake) are a pair of Division I recruits who can rebound and score from multiple levels. Varsity players for multiple seasons, the brothers have both gained a lot of confidence heading into this season as they both have All-Area potential.

Why they're in the power rankings: With three straight regional titles and three straight holiday tournament titles (the Gulfshore Holiday Hoopfest in Naples, FL), Loyola has accomplished plenty the past few seasons with a balanced roster and tough defense. One of the strongest defensive teams we saw this summer, the Ramblers have the talent and balance to once again be one of the area's best.

Did you know? Connor Barrett, a senior on last season's Loyola squad who is doing a postgrad year at Brewster Academy, signed to play basketball at Valparaiso next season.    

Why Whitney Young vs. Morgan Park is the perfect opening-night game

Why Whitney Young vs. Morgan Park is the perfect opening-night game

Morgan Park and Whitney Young playing on the opening night of the 2019-20 boys basketball season is a perfect idea.

The two local titans of Chicago high school basketball have agreed to open the season at Saint Xavier University on Monday, Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m.

During an era where it's become increasingly difficult to draw attention to the start of high school basketball, an attention-grabbing No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup is ideal. The combination of two state title contenders and the state's two best players -- Morgan Park's Adam Miller and Whitney Young's D.J. Steward -- is a great way to grab casual fan interest during a typically slow Thanksgiving week of Illinois high school hoops.

Some Thanksgiving tournaments across the state have solid fields and good crowds. But the state's top talent is too spread out. Many teams opt to take the week off altogether for more practice. There isn't a lot of stock put into winning Thanksgiving events and results are often forgotten by the time we reach the more prominent holiday tournaments in late December.

By putting a headline matchup on the first night of the season, the Chicagoland high school basketball scene is mimicking the successful formula of college basketball's Champions Classic. That annual event opens the season with rotating matchups between Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State. Since all four programs typically hover in the top ten of the national rankings each preseason, it makes for enticing opening-night matchups.

Having two programs like Morgan Park and Whitney Young -- that have combined for nine state titles -- going against each other is a smart early game for the season. It could be the start of something bigger where the Thanksgiving week features more showcase games and events that makes a stagnant week re-think its formula. Getting other notable programs like Simeon and Bloom involved could make for a fun annual tradition to begin the year.

The games test elite competition against each other and will get considered in the seeding process of the postseason. And there's no danger of missing the IHSA state playoffs with any kind of loss since every team in the state makes it anyways.

It'll be fascinating to see how this dream opening day matchup between the top two teams plays out. It's a neutral site during a holiday week where a lot of other teams and tournaments are going on. 

But if the formula of top teams playing each other works, expect this sort of thing to become the norm going forward. It's a great way to draw attention to the sport during one of the busiest sports times of the year.