By Joe Henricksen

Hales Supreme

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By Joe Henricksen

A year ago Hales Franciscan reached Peoria in dominating fashion. Leading up to their Class 2A state semifinal berth, the Spartans won five games in state tournament play by an average victory margin of 22 points a game. There wasn't a team that came within single digits of coach Gary London's club, which included a 15-point win over Leo in the regional championship and a 10-point win over Paxton-Buckley Loda in the sectional final. Robinson and big man Meyers Leonard ended the run in the semis.

Here is a bit of bad news for Class 2A teams: Hales may be better this year. And that makes the Spartans a heavy favorite to capture a state title after finishing third a year ago.

That's even after losing all-state guard Pat Miller, who is now playing at Tennessee State, and his sidekick in the backcourt, Jamie Adams. Those two combined to average 39 points a game between them and led the Spartans in scoring in every game last year but two. However, the strengths and overall talents of Hales Franciscan this year are different--but greater and more impressive--than a year ago.

Hales will have undoubtedly played the toughest Class 2A schedule in the state when state tournament play begins in late February. The Spartans have been tested and won a batch of impressive games, the latest being a road win at Whitney Young last weekend. And London's personnel will certainly cause major fits for any 2A team in Illinois with its combination of length and athleticism. The foursome of 6-4 Aaron Armstead, 6-5 Aaric Armstead, 6-4 Eddie Alcantera and 6-5 Dominique Walls are the catalysts and bring similar strengths. They are all so athletic, long and active.

Aaron Armstead, a Wisconsin-Green Bay recruit, has grown up as a senior and evolved as a pretty complete player. The past two seasons the skilled Armstead showed promise and potential, but he has grown into a productive and consistent weapon--both with his shot and off the bounce. Both Aaron and his younger brother, Aaric, who is one of the top half dozen prospects in the junior class, are Class 2A all-state material. They are both comfortable with the game on the line and the ball in their hands.

But what has elevated this team has been the arrival of Alcantera. A transfer from New York, Alcantera is a physical specimen for a junior in high school. He has been a source of additional offense and brought a level of toughness and fiery play that the likes of Miller and Adams provided a year ago. He's both physically and mentally tough.

So who are the Class 2A challengers to Hales Franciscan? While we're still a few weeks away from the start of regional play, the road to Peoria may look very familiar to Hales. Look for a Hales-Leo regional rematch to take place, while state-ranked and unbeaten Paxton-Buckley Loda will once again be a sectional roadblock.

A state title this March would help take a little bit of the sting away from the program having to forfeit its dominating 2005 state championship run.

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Hales big weakness is no point guard and guard play overall. If they run into a team with a good point guard could be trouble for Hales. But I hope they win 2A a great accomplishment it would be for an all male African American school.

Hales problem is Hales itself, as long as they continue to play the basketball they have recently played, they are superb, they must get their rotations in order, and they must have an us, against the world mentality, the young man from New York is dynamite, and Dommo is a pogo stick, the brothers are great (Armstead), the coaching staff are great coaches, everyone thinks 2A basketball is sub-par, I have news for you, it is just the opposite, everyone gets jacked up to play Hales, they know that for four quarters, you must be focused, and Hales has to remain focused, the school continues to produce great student-athletes, the school is full of history, the coaches know the history, the students know the history, I salute the school and the coaches, but you must remain focused, if you want to be state champs!
Continued Success!
p.s. It should have been Hales vs. Thornton for the McDipper Championship, someone forgot to tell Crete!

Hales has the potential to win state again this year. They have talent at almost all positions, however, they play with so much selfishness that it my belief that unless corrected they win fall early when the playoffs begin. Play as a team fellas ! Win big !

In class 2A they can have an offnight and still get to Peoria. There just is not any depth of talented teams. Leo is having a down year and that will probably be Hales toughest game.

Chemistry, chemistry and more chemistry is the issue here. Best defense in the state when team is focused on winning. Aaron is one of better if not best PG's in state when all attributes of the position are taken into account. Where does it say a great shooter cannot be a PG.

Coach Lou

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on January 25, 2011 1:40 PM.

Hoops Report's weekend whiparound was the previous entry in this blog.

Is upstart Bogan ready for Simeon? is the next entry in this blog.

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