The Thanksgiving tournaments came and went. The inaugural Chicago Elite Classic and the Cyrus McGinnis Jump-Ball Showcase entertained prep hoops fans last weekend. And the holiday tournaments in late December are right around the corner.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report, though, brings you a bevy of individual games over the next three months that are worth clearing the schedule for if you're a high school basketball fan.
✦ Team Rose Classic at Kroc Center • Dec. 8-9
This 5th annual event includes a solid four-game lineup on both days. The Saturday lineup tips off at 1:00 p.m. with Von Steuben taking on Riverside-Brookfield, followed by Morton and University High at 2:30 p.m., Crane and Niles Notre Dame at 4:00 p.m. and Farragut taking on Peyton Allen and Chatham-Glenwood at 5:30 p.m.
Sunday's five-game schedule begins at noon, with DuSable and Westinghouse facing off. The rest of the day includes St. Rita-Hyde Park, North Chicago-Providence St. Mel, T.F. North-Marshall and the event's top game, Curie and H-F at 6:00 p.m.
✦ Zion-Benton at Lake Forest • Dec. 8
Look who's back? After an uncharacteristic season a year ago, Zion-Benton is sitting with a 5-1 record heading into this key North Suburban Lake battle. Lake Forest, a Hoops Report preseason Top 25 team, is legit. For added pleasure, a couple of the state's top young players -- Zee-Bees junior Milik Yarbrough and Lake Forest soph
omore Evan Boudreaux -- will be on display
✦ Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Challenge
At Loyola Academy • Dec. 15
Who needs the Big Ten/ACC Challenge? Two of the top basketball leagues in the Chicago area go at it in four games at Loyola Academy. Who would have ever thought the opening game of this challenge, St. Ignatius vs. Benet at 3 p.m., would carry this much weight? But Iggy has been the surprise of the young season. Notre Dame will face Leo at 4:30 p.m., followed by St. Joseph and St. Patrick (old ESCC foes) at 6:00 p.m. Loyola and St. Viator will square off in the finale.
✦ Orr at Whitney Young • Dec. 19
A Red-West war and a pair of top 10 teams with an abundance of heavy duty junior talent on display, including Young's Jahlil Okafor, Paul White and L.J. Peak, along with Orr's Marlon Jones and Tyquone Greer. You better believe Young will remember the shellacking it took at Orr last December.
✦ St. Charles East at Larkin • Jan. 10
Rematch of a game that took place last week that saw Larkin upset St. Charles East. As long as Kendall Stephens is in the lineup for the Saints -- he continues to put off surgery on his torn labrum -- this could be a pivotal midseason Upstate Eight River showdown.
✦ St. Rita at Marist • Jan. 15
Chicago Catholic League vs. East Suburban Catholic. Both teams were in the preseason Top 10, though St. Rita has stumbled out of the gate with losses to Washington and St. Ignatius. A couple of terrific backcourts go head-to-head as Marist's senior duo of Lexus Williams and L.J. McIntosh meet the Matthews brothers, sophomore Charles and junior Dominique.
✦ Seton Academy at Providence St. Mel • Jan. 15
This could be a preview of a monster March matchup between a pair of Class 2A teams with high hopes. Seton beat St. Mel in the sectional championship a year ago.
✦ Simeon at Morgan Park • Jan. 16
Now here is one you won't want to miss -- if you can get into the gym. The Red-South at its best with the top-team in the state traveling to No. 3 Morgan Park. There is a little saltiness in this battle between two neighborhood foes in a game that will showcase two of the best backcourts in Illinois -- Simeon's Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn and Morgan Park's Billy Garret, Jr. and Kyle Davis.
✦ Waubonsie Valley at Neuqua Valley • Jan. 18
This rivalry game always means something, but this one could determine the Upstate Eight Valley. Neuqua knocked off upstart Waubonsie and Jared Brownridge last week.
✦ H-F at Bloom • Jan. 22
Arguably the top two Class 4A teams in the south suburbs square off in a preview of a potential sectional showdown in March.
✦ Simeon at Bogan • Jan. 23
Yes, Bogan is off to a slow start. But the always tough and fearless Bengals will get the top-ranked Wolverines at home. Bogan's only Red-South loss last season came to Simeon.
✦ Simeon vs. Whitney Young at Loyola • Jan. 26
You think this game might be hyped up a little? Stars. Powers. College venue. And a potential Game of the Year flavor. The top two programs in the state and a surplus of star power in the likes of Simeon's Jabari Parker, Young's Jahlil Okafor and plenty of other Division I talent.
✦ High School Hoops Showdown
Hoffman Estates Sears Centre • Jan. 26
Forget the players for a moment. This tripleheader is highlighted by two traditional powers and a pair of coaching legends meeting when St. Joseph and coach Gene Pingatore squares off with West Aurora and coach Gordie Kerkman. This follows up two rivalry games with plenty of intrigue, including St. Viator and Niles Notre Dame in a big ESCC game and a second Benet Academy-Naperville Central matchup. Central beat Benet at the buzzer in the championship game of the Hoops for Healing Thanksgiving Tournament.
✦ Proviso East at Normal U-High • Jan. 26
Terrific non-conference showdown as a pair of state runner-ups from last year -- Proviso East in 4A and U-High in 2A -- meet. Proviso East's Sterling Brown and U-High junior Keita Bates-Diop will entertain.
✦ Curie at St. Rita • Jan. 29
One of the real underrated marquee matchups of the season, with both teams featuring high-level individual talent and teams with high expectations this season. A chance for fans to see two of the top players in the country in their respective classes in St. Rita sophomore Charles Matthews and Curie junior Cliff Alexander.
✦ War on the Shore
At Loyola Academy • Feb. 2
An attractive tripleheader starts with Evanston taking on a ranked Lake Forest team, followed by New Trier-St. Viator and Loyola Academy-Notre Dame.
✦ Marian Catholic at Marist • Feb. 8
Yet another fun one in the East Suburban Catholic as scintillating junior guard Tyler Ulis leads a charged up Marian Catholic program into a battle against the league's top backcourt -- Marist's Lexus Williams and L.J. McIntosh. We'll know by this February date whether or not MC hoops is here to stay in this 2012-2013 season.
✦ Marist at Benet • Feb. 15
Could this one decide the most balanced and competitive league in the Chicago area? Benet, led by 6-9 junior Sean O'Mara, is off to a fast start and will only get better with its football players back in the swing of things. Marist, meanwhile, will be in the midst of a one-week stretch where it faces Marian Catholic, Seton Academy and Benet Academy.
✦ Bolingbrook at H-F • Feb. 15
The best Bolingbrook team in years, led by Ben Moore, hopes to take the top spot away from Homewood-Flossmoor in what could be a Southwest Suburban Blue title tilt.
✦ Oak Park at York • Feb. 15
Although it appears both Glenbard West and Hinsdale Central could have a thing or two to say about the West Suburban Silver race, this regular-season finale could decide it all.
✦ Seton Academy at St. Rita • Feb. 15
Seton Academy will be tuning up for a 2A tournament run, but the Sting and Mustangs collide in what could decide the Catholic League South.
✦ Glenbard East at West Aurora • Feb. 20
The top two basketball programs in the DuPage Valley are expected to battle it out all winter. Both are off to solid starts, with West Aurora playing well in the Rock Island Thanksgiving Tournament and Glenbard East fresh off a thumping of Naperville Central. This DVC finale could decide who rules in 2012-2013.
✦ St. Rita at St. Joseph • Feb. 22
So much young talent on display in what could be a critical Catholic League crossover. St. Joe's sophomores Jordan Ash and Glynn Watson will have had a little varsity seasoning by late February.
✦ Lemont at Hillcrest • Feb. 22
Hillcrest won't be taking Lemont lightly this year after being stunned by the Indians last season. The two tied for the top spot in the South Suburban Blue a year ago and will duke it out one more time.
✦ City-Suburban Showdown • Feb. 23
Always one of the premier events of every basketball season, the 18th annual City-Suburban Showdown will be played at the House of Hope Arena on Chicago's South Side. De La Salle and Proviso East will meet in the opener, followed by a battle of junior big men -- Benet's Sean O'Mara and Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor -- in the second game. Top-ranked Simeon and Marist, a rematch of last year's sectional title game, will close out what should be an outstanding night of prep hoops. All six teams are currently ranked in the Top 25, with Simeon, Young, Benet and Marist all among the top 10.