By Joe Henricksen
The Pontiac Holiday Tournament, always one of the top events of the high school basketball season in Illinois, will be highlighted by the return of state champion Simeon and junior sensation Jabari Parker. But Pontiac will offer up some tantalizing and intriguing matchups aside from the Simeon Show.
Here is a look at the matchups in bracket order at the 81st annual Pontiac Holiday Tournament, which tips off Wednesday, Dec. 28.
First-Round Matchups on Wednesday, Dec. 28
West Aurora vs. Danville @ 9:00 a.m.
Curie vs. Niles West @ 10:30 a.m.
Joliet West vs. Waukegan @ 1:00 p.m.
Warren vs. Plainfield North @ 2:30 p.m.
United Twp. vs. Lockport @ 4:00 p.m.
Simeon vs. Bloomington @ 6:00 p.m.
Peoria Manual vs. Pontiac @ 7:30 p.m.
Oak Park-River Forest vs. St. Charles North @ 9:00 p.m.
The brackets will offer up these potential storylines:
• The state's No. 1 senior (Simeon's Steve Taylor), No. 1 and No. 2 juniors (Simeon's Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn) and the No. 2 sophomore (Curie's Cliff Alexander) will all be on display.
• A couple of terrific first-round matchups with Joliet West facing Waukegan, Lockport taking on United Twp. and Oak Park facing a better-than-its-record St. Charles North team.
• Joliet West big man Marlon Johnson, if it can get by Waukegan, squaring off with the inside tandem of Darius Paul and Nathan Boothe of Warren in the second round.
• How about a potential Curie-Warren semifinal battle?
• Simeon, the state's top-ranked team in Class 4A, could meet Peoria Manual, arguably the top team in Class 3A, in the other semifinal.