By Joe Henricksen
The dog days of the basketball season are just around the corner. You know, those February conference matchups that just don't have the zest, zeal or flavor of the current holiday tournaments and what is on tap in March. So get out and enjoy the next couple of nights as several of the anticipated matchups are materializing. Each and every one of the Hoops Report's Five Most Intriguing Holiday matchups in the "Holiday Primer" blog last week remain alive.
There isn't a better semifinal matchup in the state than what will shake down Tuesday night in Hillside, where No. 1 Whitney Young takes on yet another highly-ranked team in unbeaten Glenbrook North. What will Whitney Young throw at red-hot, high-scoring Alex Dragicevich? And what about a potential all-Public League powerfest in the final if Whitney Young and Foreman meet? Ahhhh, but there sits Von Steuben, a natural nemesis of Foreman in the Red-North, in the semis.
BIG DIPPER at RICH SOUTH
The south suburbs will be rocking. The gym will be packed and the energy oozing over the next two nights at Rich South, especially if the host school continues to advance. The three south suburban powers -- Rich South, Crete-Monee and Thornton -- are all in the semis hoping to keep the title at home as the top threat Hales Franciscan continues to roll behind the senior backcourt duo of Jamie Adams and Pat Miller. And be on the lookout for the high-flying acts of Thornton's Reggie Smith, Rich South's Macari Brooks and Crete-Monee's Jamie Crockett.
JACK TOSH HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT at YORK
The top four seeds all advanced to the semis with some grueling quarterfinal wins. Riverside-Brookfield trailed all game before beating York in overtime, while Maine South trailed South Elgin all game before pulling away in the fourth quarter. Lyons Twp. was down 16 to Oswego in the third quarter before blowing the doors open in the fourth quarter, and Brother Rice was finally able to put Downers Grove South away in the fourth quarter. All four of these programs, who are a combined 37-2, are looking to show they are as good as their records. Might we see a LT-RB rematch in the final Wednesday night? Lyons handed R-B its only loss of the season. This should be an interesting couple of nights in Elmhurst.
Things will heat up in Pontiac on the final day. The format at Pontiac brings the semifinals and championship game together on one day -- Wednesday, Dec. 30. That's when Joliet hopes to get a crack at the tournament's top team, Simeon, in an afternoon semifinal game. But taking care of pesky Curie in the quarterfinals will not be an easy task. The opposite bracket could feature Waukegan and Peoria Manual in the other semifinal. The fans are anticipatin Jereme Richmond and Waukegan squaring off with Simeon in the tournament's final game.
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