By Joe Henricksen

Showdown week highlights season

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By Joe Henricksen

With an unbeaten, nationally-ranked Simeon, another unbeaten in Benet Academy and a surplus of talented and inspiring senior stars like Morgan Park's Wayne Blackshear, East Aurora's Ryan Boatright and Rock Island's Chasson Randle among others, this 2010-2011 high school basketball season is a memorable one. And we haven't even hit March yet.

Then there is the week ahead of us, with the circle-the-date showdown featuring No. 1 and No. 2 meeting in a battle of unbeatens at UIC in the City-Suburban Showdown. That's where the Benet Academy-Simeon rematch takes place. A year ago Simeon knocked off Benet in dramatic fashion, earning a trip to Peoria with a supersectional overtime victory.

The City-Suburban Showdown has evolved into the premier night of high school basketball thus far this season, with 3A heavyweights Morgan Park and Rock Island squaring off and highly-ranked Proviso East facing Lyons Twp. in the opener of the tripleheader.

This week is the perfect storm when it comes to high school basketball scheduling in Illinois. Simeon-Benet is hardly the only must-see attraction in coming days, starting with Wednesday's Chicago Public League semifinals at DePaul.

Here is a rundown of all that will take place in the marquee events around the Chicago area this week.

Saturday, Feb. 19 at UIC, 8:45 p.m.
This week's issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report broke this game down in detail, position by position. While Simeon has the advantage on paper--getting the edge in three of the five starting positions and an overwhelming advantage when it comes to bench strength--Benet will offer a challenge the top-ranked Wolverines have yet to see. This will be the most disciplined and under control team Simeon will have faced this season. Thanks in large part to the presence of point guard David Sobolewski and coach Gene Heidkamp, Benet never seems to get rattled. That goes a long way when playing a team with the talent and aura of Simeon in what should be a raucous UIC Pavilion. Fortunately, Simeon is extremely deep and that depth will be needed this week. The Wolverines will be playing a city semifinal game Wednesday night and, with a win, will be playing an intense city championship game on Friday night. Benet, meanwhile, has the week off and plenty of time to solely plan for what is the biggest regular-season game in the program's history.
Hoops Report Pick: Simeon 54, Benet 47

Saturday, Feb. 19 at UIC, 7:00 p.m.
The prelude to the battle of unbeatens is a dandy, featuring two of the top Mr. Basketball candidates in the state in Rock Island's Chasson Randle and Morgan Park's Wayne Blackshear. But this is more than a pair of individual stars. We're talking two legitimate Class 3A state title contenders who could very well see one another again in Peoria next month. After finishing fourth in the Red-South and an early exit from the city playoffs, Morgan Park could use a shot in the arm--and a win over Rock Island on a big stage would provide that and a boost heading into state tournament play. Rock Island, who is 21-2 with losses to the No. 1 ranked 3A team, Peoria Notre Dame, and East St. Louis, should be able to handle the pressure the Mustangs will throw at them with Randle and veteran Royce Muskeyvalley. The improved play of 6-8 Denzel McCauley has given Rock Island a different dimension. The key, however, will be whether Rock Island's transition defense can neutralize Morgan Park's up-tempo offense.
Hoops Report Pick: Morgan Park 60, Rock Island 58

Saturday, Feb. 19 at UIC, 5:15 p.m.
The opening game of the City-Suburban Showdown includes two teams that lead their respective West Suburban Conference divisions--LT on top in the Silver Division and Proviso East tied with Downers South in the Gold Division. A big element in this one will be anticipating which way the emotional pendulum will sway. Proviso East will be coming off a huge Friday night conference showdown with Downers Grove South, so the result of that game could play a part in a game with a far-from-the-norm start time of 4 p.m. This is a senior-dominated LT team, led by ISU recruit Nick Zeisloft, that has found its groove, while Proviso East boasts some of the best young talent in junior Keith Carter and sophomore Sterling Brown.
Hoops Report Pick: Proviso East 67, Lyons Twp. 63

Friday, Feb. 18 at Chicago State
The Hoops Report is projecting a Simeon-Brooks battle in the city championship game, though Whitney Young and Curie both will have something to say about that Wednesday night in the semifinals.

Friday, Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m.
The two best teams in the tough Chicago Catholic League go at it for a second time. The earlier matchup back in December saw De La Salle's role players step up with major contributions down the stretch in a 68-65 road win. De La Salle has played solid, consistent and confident basketball, but the Meteors have hardly looked like world beaters. Nonetheless, coach Tom White's team has just two losses overall--only one loss to a team from Illinois (upset by Fenwick 49-48). Hales, which can match De La Salle's overall athleticism with the foursome of Aaric Armstead, Aaron Armstead, Dominique Walls and Eddie Alcantera, hasn't lost since falling to Crete-Monee at the McDipper in late December. An undervalued factor in De La Salle's success is the size and length the Meteors bring to the floor with 6-8 Mike Shaw, 6-7 Alex Foster and 6-6 Dre Henley.
Hoops Report Pick: De La Salle 62, Hales 58

Friday, Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m.
In all likelihood, this one will decide the West Suburban Gold race as both top 15 teams come in with one loss in league play. Downers Grove South went into Maywood earlier this season and won 60-48. That certainly grabbed the attention of Proviso East, whose only three losses have come to three ranked teams (Hales, H-F and Downers South). Downers Grove South has been on cruise control since a mid-December loss to Lyons Twp. The Mustangs, a well balanced team featuring a nice blend of size, athleticism and depth, have run off 14 consecutive wins.
Hoops Report Pick: Downers South 67, Proviso East 64

Friday, Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m.
While there isn't a team in the Mid-Suburban League's East or West Divisions ranked in anyone's top 25, this is a matchup that will go a long way in deciding a jumbled MSL West. Currently there are four teams--Conant, Fremd, Schaumburg and Barrington--all tied for first with a 6-3 record. Conant needs a win over Fremd and a Barrington loss. Fremd, meanwhile, needs to beat Conant and for both Barrington and Schaumburg to fall. Fremd is the defending MSL champs and boast a load of experience with a senior-dominated team. Conant has bounced back from a January swoon (consecutive losses to Palatine, Fremd and Barrington) to put itself back into the league race with three straight MSL wins. Senior London Dokubo sets the tone for a Conant team that brings its constant physical, smothering defensive-minded approach. The Cougars are allowing less than 50 points a game on the season. Obviously job No. 1 will be corralling Fremd scorer Zach Monaghan, who scored 23 points the last time these two met--a 55-46 Fremd victory in mid-January. Monaghan took over late in that one, scoring 15 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter.
Hoops Report Pick: Fremd 44, Conant 41

Wednesday, Feb. 17 at DePaul, 5:30 p.m.
As I watched Brooks make its furious comeback against Farragut Sunday night, I thought to myself, "That's what a team needs in order to get to Peoria." By that, I mean, senior toughness and a will to fight through some adversity. And coming back from 15 points down against Farragut shows the make-up of coach Bobby Locke's club. You have to give Brooks a lot of credit for holding its own with senior George Marshall on the shelf. With Marshall getting better and more comfortable by the day as he works himself back after a nearly two-month layoff, this team gets the edge over Curie. But with monster 6-8 freshman Cliff Alexander becoming a factor for coach Mike Oliver, the Condors have an added dimension it really didn't have the first half of the season. Curie will come in hyped up as it has not received the attention and accolades other CPS schools have despite a 26-1 record.
Hoops Report Pick: Brooks 60, Curie 55

Wednesday, Feb. 17 at DePaul, 7:15 p.m.
Here we go again. The two highest-profile programs in the state with the most individual talent square off with a lot more on the line than the last time they met in late January, which was a Simeon 60-39 whitewash. Expect a little more scratching and clawing out of Whitney Young in this one. For Whitney Young fans, the sight of point guard Derrick Randolph, who became eligible in late January, beginning to make an impact is golden. A good, early start for the Dolphins is imperative in this one. Simeon has operated like a well-oiled machine, taking care of teams in a business-like fashion all season. Aside from the Morgan Park game early in the year, Simeon has played with the lead and been able to dictate what it wants to do on both ends of the floor. There are many people who believe this is a matter of Simeon doing what it did to Whitney Young the last time, the Hoops Report isn't one of them. Young will be ready to play and give Simeon everything it can handle.
Hoops Report Pick: Simeon 53, Whitney Young 48

And a couple of others ....
Maine South at New Trier, Friday, Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m.
New Trier is hot. The Trevians, who recently welcomed back junior Austin Angel and have picked up big wins over Evanston and Waukegan in the past two weeks, are one game up on Maine South in the Central Suburban League South. Maine South, led by senior do-it-all Matt Palucki, lost to New Trier at home a month ago.

Niles North at Deerfield, Friday, Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m.
Out of nowhere, Deerfield has climbed into the Central Suburban League North race, even after graduating all five starters from last year's highly-successful team that shared the league title. Deerfield has won 10 of its last 12, including six straight. Niles North, led by the now uncommitted Abdel Nader, is one game up on Deerfield in the CSL North standings.

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I am looking forward to this weeks games. I have my tickets for the City-Suburban Showdown. It is wonderful that,as you spelled out above, all three games will be terrific.

I saw Chasson Randle play at the State Farm tourney in Bloomington and look forward to seeing him again. He plays a very smooth game. His is the high caliber play of elite players. To put it another way it looks like he is extremely efficient and does exactly what needs to be done. No more or no less. Does MP have the guards to handle Randle and Muskeyvalley? Guess I will see on Saturday!

Simeon and Benet will be a hard fought game, but I think Simeon's depth prevails. They can run two platoons at you which has to wear down Benet. Simeon also has the height in the post to handle Kaminsky without double teaming him. It will be a great test for Sobolewski. I will be interested to see how he stacks up against an elite team that has multiple guards to run at him. Certainly will give him an indication of what the Big Ten will be like next year. Being rested will be the Benet advantage.

Joe...are you sure Simeon-Benet is 8:45? I thought I read it was 7:30. But I trust you so I was just double-checking haha.

If Simeon wins both of these games, they might as well start putting their name on the IHSA Championship trophy!
Masterful scheduling to do something like this, play for the CPS Championship on Friday, and then play another undefeated team,at a bigger venue on Saturday night, kudos to the Wolverines and Coach Robert Smith!
Some of you are starting to understand why you send your youngster to a high-profile program like Simeon!

How much are tickets for the C/S Showdown?

"If Simeon wins both of these games, they might as well start putting their name on the IHSA Championship trophy!"

They can't win both games if they don't play both. Counting chickens before they hatch.

Some of you are starting to understand why you send your youngster to a high-profile program like Simeon!"
- For basketball and not academics.

Anyone who cares about academics or safety wouldn't send their kid to Simeon


Great previews. Although, Maine South beat New Trier by double digits the first time they met this season :)

Also, from your time out on the club circuit last spring and summer did you get a chance to see Nic Moore? From what I'm told Illinois State got two major steals in Moore and Ziesloft.

Well, give Joe props for saying that Whitney Young would be a different team with Randolph back at guard. They go out and beat Simeon last night. Seems like that throws the 4A bracket up for grabs. Benet, Downers Grove South and a number of other teams will draw strength from WY'w win last night.

As for Saturday's games my tickets say games are at 5:15, 7:00 and 8:45.

Once again someone has turn a High School basketball site into some unfounded and senseless garbage...if your comments are not related to the article do us all a favor and keep them to yourself!

I just bought my tickets for the City-Suburban Showdown. I called UIC and they just had some floor seats and some lower level seats become available because Proviso East didn't sell all of their tickets. The floor seats were 36.00 but that's what I bought because I want to be right down low for the event of the season!

comment sections on blog are for both comments about the article and points and counterpoints on other people's comments.

If you do not like my comments, toughen up Sally.

If you think I am wrong, provide a counter example to prove me wrong.

Derrick Rose? Cheated on ACT.
The rest of the starters on that team? Either dropped out of college, dropped out and went to community college, transferred several times or were arrested.

Over the past decade, there have been shootings and other gang violence in the building or the parking lots.

These are facts. If you disagree, provide proof for your side.

Guess you got it wrong - WY won against Simeon and will enjoy the final Citywide Championship game on Friday night. It will be a 2 for given the WY Sophmore team also made it into the Citywide Finals. What say the WY haters now? Derrick Randolph is the ultimate point guard - go Dolphins!

Wisconsin is getting a great player in one, George Marshall, he is going to love, Madison, Wisconsin!

Brooks wins the city championship for the first time in the school's history, great game, and guess what, they are in the Rich South Sectional, could they be the second city school to make it downstate? Stay Tuned!

Hey Phil K, ARE you part of the solution or part of the problem, either help or stop recanting old facts, we know the facts, but we also know that D.ROSE is in LA, and is the starting guard for the East in the ALL STAR game!
Stop bashing Simeon High School!

Watching the Chicago Public League Championship game on television, I was very unimpressed by Whitney Young and Brooks. Whitney Young played like it was not the least bit interested in being there. Their shooting was bad throughout the game and their free throw shooting was terrible. Worst of all they shot free throws like there was a one second time limit. Just throw the ball up. Don't worry about form; don't concentrate; just get it over with.
Brooks was better, but not by much. They fouled way too much. Two players fouled out and at least one had four fouls. In the first half they were two of ten on threes. In the second half they were much better, but Whitney Young had stopped challenging the threes.
There was not much cohesion in either offense. Too much one on one. Not enough passing. Too much out of control. Not enough working as a team.

I did not see the Benet-Simeon game, but I will bet that Benet won by playing BASKETBALL.

Hey Simeon had an unsuccessful week, they lost to Young and Benet, Young is a 4A school so they won't see them again, and Benet is undefeated so they no doubt will see them again, a tough schedule is a great thing, and I salute Simeon for playing one, they don't dodge and duck anyone, big shout out to Brooks on winning the city championship, and to Benet High School, for defeating the defending state champs, the state playoffs begin next week, stay tuned!

Kudos to Bobby Locke and Brooks, and let's give Chris Head some props as well, he started this program, the site where Mendel High School once stood, big win for Brooks, that is Gwendolyn Brooks, she would be proud as well!

Benet ACADEMY. Simeon, Benet, and Whitney Young are all 4A, so assuming they get far enough, Simeon will play both Young and Benet in the playoffs.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on February 16, 2011 8:41 AM.

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