By Joe Henricksen

Rivalries, showdowns highlight huge weekend

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By Joe Henricksen

As long as the winter weather doesn't knock out a few games, the next three days of high school basketball action in the Chicago area should be awfully entertaining, important and telling.

The City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at the matchups and the significance of each.

The Big One
When the season tipped off back in November the North Lawndale-Whitney Young matchup scheduled for this Friday night was tabbed as the Game of the Year, with both programs ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in most preseason rankings. The game still carries a lot of significance, both in the Red-West and in the overall landscape of high school basketball. The game will be carried on television and will feature more talent on the floor than any other game this season.

This game matters. First, it will go a long way in deciding the Red-West as both teams come in unbeaten in league play. Second, North Lawndale, with its strong showing in Florida over the holidays and its thrashing of Crane, is in the midst of reclaiming its bid as the state's best team. And third, Whitney Young simply needs a big win. Yes, the schedule has been brutally tough for the Dolphins, but a roster loaded with this much individual talent needs to break through.

And how about those matchups on the perimeter? Young's Chris Colvin (Iowa State), Ahmad Starks (Oregon State), Anthony Johnson (Purdue) and Marcus Jordan going up against Terry Johnson (Illinois State), John Taylor and Zilijan Jones will be fun to watch. North Lawndale, though, just seems to have a little more physical and mental toughness. The big, physical combination of North Lawndale's Jonathan Mills and junior Jermaine Winfield could be the difference.

The Rivalry
The East Aurora-West Aurora rivalry is the best in Illinois. The rivalry features a long history, one community, two tradition-rich programs and, this year, one of the top venues in prep basketball -- East Aurora's gym. East Aurora is hot and comes into this drama-filled rivalry with the most to gain. West Aurora has had its way in this rivalry over the past decade and it may be East's time. With 6-3 Will Brown, an electric scorer on the wing, and an improving Ryan Boatright, the Tomcats have the potential to keep the momentum they've gained over the past month and ride it right into sectional seeding time.

The Showdown
The Hoops Showdown at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates Saturday night features a tripleheader, which includes a pair of intriguing matchups. Barrington and Conant tip off at 4:30, followed by two good ones: Jacobs vs. Schaumburg at 6:30 p.m. and St. Joseph vs. North Lawndale at 8:30 p.m. Both Schaumburg and North Lawndale will be coming off huge conference battles on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Schaumburg's Cully Payne has played himself into the Mr. Basketball conversation. Jacobs, led by underappreciated Conrad Krutwig, is a solid 11-3. St. Joe's is on top of the East Suburban Catholic Conference and recently welcomed back junior star DeAndre McCamey.

The Conference Battles
Schaumburg vs. Hoffman Estates
Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates were expected to contend in the Mid-Suburban League West, but they weren't supposed to be this big of a factor overall on the high school scene. Both were unranked in the preseason and now both are ranked in the Top 25 with combined records of 27-3. Hoffman Estates, led by guard Luke Mead, can put itself in the MSL West driver's seat with a win.

Rich East at Bloom
Bloom has overcome great obstacles, has played itself into the rankings and, with a win over Rich East, will even things up in the SICA South. And it's time to quit calling Rich East a surprise. This quick, athletic group is the real deal and has emerged as the favorite over the likes of Bloom and Crete-Monee.

Seton Academy at Mount Carmel
In addition to a pair of teams that are unbeaten in the rugged Catholic South, this matchup features a dandy battle in the backcourt as Seton's D.J. Cooper goes up against Mount Carmel's Tracy Abrams. The young Caravan are still trying to find their way, while Seton has a few more proven commodities at this point in the season.

Lincoln Park at Foreman
While Foreman has climbed into everyone's rankings, Lincoln Park has fallen out of them. Nevertheless, the two teams are the unbeaten favorites in the Red-North. Foreman's backcourt of Lavonte Dority and Mike McCall is about as good as it gets at the high school level. A win here for Lincoln Park would be a huge lift.

Loyola Academy at Leo
The Catholic League North has two teams sitting at the top unbeaten: Leo and Loyola. While there certainly is a long way to go, with both St. Ignatius and Fenwick figuring into things, the winner will put themselves in a great position. But how far -- or how much longer -- can Matt Sullivan carry this Loyola team? Loyola managed to handle North Chicago's quickness and athleticism. Will they be able to contain Leo's and, in particular, high-scoring guard James Pointer?

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The East - West game will be the hottest ticket in town this weekend! Some great individual match-ups; specifically the point guards Boatright East vs Marcus Cocroft -West, the other could be Tramell Weathersby East vs the Frosh star Juwan Starks. Not sure who from West will try to defend Will Brown. They will have to defend him by committee! West Aurora is always known for their defense; East Aurora for their explosiveness! East usually will make 2 major runs each game. If you can handle East pressure and run a half court game you have a shot at beating them. As far as bench play is concerned I am giving the edge to East with West transfer Kevin Lash,Rashante Zachary,and Lorico Washington. East has 12 in a row! West is 9-5 for the season. Throw the records out it will be another great game, with a slight edge to East! They can't overlook a tough Saint Charles North team on Friday!

You forgot about Evanston at Waukegan. Waukegan has not beaten Evanston in about 30 something years from what I have been told by Evanstonians. Jereme Richmond and company are going to have a tough time with the Wildkits. Richmond going up against his cousins Eric Dortch and Ryan Frazier-Chambers, it should be an entertaining and wild scene in Waukegan Friday Night!!!!!

I want to compliment you for highlighting the Lincoln Park/Foreman game. In my own mind, I had already awarded the CPS Red North to Foreman.

I was surprised to see that Lincoln Park was able to get the win at Foreman, putting the Lions in first place and the Hornets in second. Coach Head must be beside himself with grief this morning. When will Foreman finally surpass Lincoln Park and Von Steuben?

Again, good work on your part in highlighting the game. What a season!

Evanston showed up at the Dog Pound like they did in 1963 cocky,well they would have lost by 40 points, but the coach pulled his starters. North Chicago showed up on 2-3-09 they were a day late and a dollar short. They were a step or two slower than Waukegan. More flash than substance; with about 3 minutes left to play they quit. Playing against western Lake County teams and scoring 100 points a game is different than playing one good team like Waukegan. The North Chicago Sophs looked better and faster than the storied Varsity. Maybe next year it may be an interesting game.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on January 14, 2009 6:06 PM.

Shhhh.... Dare we say 2011 overhyped? was the previous entry in this blog.

Young-North Lawndale lives up to hype is the next entry in this blog.

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