When Thanksgiving tournaments wrap up next weekend, a single-day event on Dec. 1 will take center stage as the annual Team Rose Basketball Classic at Curie will feature a five-game lineup, highlighted by a Curie-St. Rita showdown.
Although the Curie-St. Rita rivalry still has that new car smell to it, it's an intriguing one.
Last year Curie went into St. Rita and won behind star Cliff Alexander's 21 points and 20 rebounds.
This year the two programs, which are located less than six miles from one another, are both ranked among the top half dozen teams in the Chicago area and will undoubtedly be placed in the same sectional once again this March. And both programs are -- and have been -- looking to put together multiple high-profile wins. Yes, it's only Dec. 1, but this game matters.
The talent level on display in the Curie-St. Rita tussle is about as good as it gets. Alexander, among the top five prospects in the country, leads a Curie team that, on paper, is the best coach Mike Oliver has ever had in his long, successful run at the Southwest Side Public League school. Joshua Stamps is one of the top 15 prospects in the Class of 2015, while guard Devin Gage is one of the top 10 prospects in the sophomore class.
St. Rita is loaded, led by the 1-2 punch of Northwestern recruit Vic Law, a versatile 6-7 forward, and 6-5 guard Charles Matthews, the top-rated prospect in Illinois in the Class of 2015. Law and senior guard Dominique Matthews, who averaged 16 points a game as a junior and is one of the top uncommitted prospects remaining in the Class of 2014, are both four-year varsity players.
There will be two separate sessions, with the first two games in Session I and the final three games in Session II. The cost is $7 per session or $10 for an all-day pass.
● Von Steuben vs. Gordon Tech @ 11:00 a.m.
North Side Catholic League vs. North Side Public League. Von Steuben welcomes back three starters, including promising sophomore Meriton Bunjaku. Big Rac Williams and point guard Chris Harrell return for an improving Gordon Tech program.
● Farragut vs. Providence St. Mel @ 12:30 p.m.
A pair of two strong, physical senior guards -- Farragut's Ashawn Jones and St. Mel's Tevin King -- go at it in this one.
● East St. Louis vs. Marshall @ 2:00 p.m.
A chance for Chicago area fans to catch a glimpse of the Hoops Report's top-rated prospect in the Class of 2017 -- 6-8 freshman Jeremiah Tillman of East St. Louis.
● Curie vs. St. Rita @ 3:30 p.m.
A couple of the state's top teams square off in the best opening-weekend game with two of the premier talents in the state: Curie's Cliff Alexander and St. Rita's Charles Matthews.
● Morton vs. Homewood-Flossmoor @ 5:00 p.m.
H-F and UIC recruit Tai Odiase face a real sleeper in Morton, a team just on the outside looking in of the Hoops Report's preseason Top 25.
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