Here’s a look back at the boys high school basketball holiday tournament season.
Best tournament: Pontiac. It didn’t have the star power of Proviso West, but this time around, Pontiac had the better games. The semifinal between Plainfield North and Warren was a crowd-pleaser, and Lockport made it interesting against Simeon in the other semifinal. In the championship, Warren hung right with Simeon until sophomore star Jabari Parker took over.
Best tournament championship: Proviso West. Benet defeated Homewood-Flossmoor, 54-50, in overtime. Nothing like overtime to decide a championship.
Greatest individual performance: Plainfield North’s Jack Krieger vs. Warren at Pontiac. Krieger was throwing up shots in every way and they were falling. He put up 30 points before running out of gas at the end.
Tournament MVP: Simeon sophomore Jabari Parker. In Simeon’s four wins at Pontiac, Parker didn’t do anything he hasn’t done before. It was just that the Wolverines needed him at Pontiac more than they ever have. Parker was a complementary piece to last year’s state championship, and while he has been the team’s leader this season, Simeon had coasted to their previous wins. At Pontiac, Lockport and Warren gave Simeon games, and Parker responded by carrying the Wolverines. He had 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals in a 58-50 win over Warren in the championship. He had 19 points in 23 minutes in the semifinal.
All-tournaments first team:
Morgan Park senior guard Wayne Blackshear at Proviso West: Blackshear made a run at Jon Scheyer’s record of 140 points during a tournament. Blackshear finished with 130. He also had 46 total rebounds. His biggest game was 40 points and 11 rebounds against Fenwick in the opening round.
Notre Dame senior forward Quinton Chievous at Wheeling: Chievous put together some of the most consistent performances during the holidays while helping Notre Dame to the Wheeling tournament title. He had 17 points and 17 rebounds in the Dons’ championship win over Niles North. He had 28 points and eight rebounds in the semifinals. He had 22 points and eight rebounds in the quarterfinals. He scored 23 points in the opening round.
Crete-Monee senior forward Jamee Crockett at Rich South: Crockett’s game has taken a step up this season, and he displayed that throughout the Big Dipper tournament. He had 24 points and four 3-pointers in the opening round. In a win over Leo, he scored 18 of his game-high 20 points in the second half. He had 27 points and eight rebounds in the Warriors’ upset of Hales. In Crete-Monee’s championship loss to Thornton, he had 20 points.
Simeon sophomore Jabari Parker at Pontiac: See MVP.
Benet senior guard David Sobolewski at Proviso West: Sobolewski grew up attending the Proviso West tournament and marveling at the star players. He added himself to that elite group by leading Benet to the tournament crown and earning tournament MVP honors. He had 19 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists against Homewood-Flossmoor in the championship game.
All-tournaments second team:
East Aurora senior guard Ryan Boatright at East Aurora: Boatright was his usual self at East Aurora’s tournament. He had 14 points and 10 steals against Belvidere North. He had 25 points against Oswego East. He had 24 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists against Fairly (Tenn.). In the championship game, he had 43 points and seven rebounds.
Thornton senior guard Brian Greene Jr. at Rich South: Greene Jr. was consistent throughout the Big Dipper and stepped up his game in the championship to lift the Wildcats to the tournament crown. He had 22 points against Crete-Monee in the title game and was named tournament MVP.
Plainfield North senior Jack Krieger at Pontiac: Outside of Simeon’s Parker, Krieger was the show at Pontiac. He had the crowd wanting more after his 30 points against Warren. He had 25 points and 12 rebounds against Peoria Manual. He had 24 points and nine rebounds in the opening round.
Homewood-Flossmoor senior guard Julian Lewis at Proviso West: The Vikings weren’t expected to be in the Proviso West championship, but Lewis got them there. He was 9 of 11 from the field, scored 28 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out four assists and came up with four steals in the semifinals against Proviso West. He had 31 points and 10 rebounds against Proviso West in the quarterfinals.
Downers Grove South junior guard Jerron Wilbut at York: Wilbut scored 22 points in Downers Grove South’s win over Lyons in the Jack Tosh tournament championship game and was named the tourney MVP.
Honorable mention all-tournaments team
Benet’s Matt Parisi at Proviso West
Evanston’s Garrett Jones at DeKalb
Niles North’s Abdel Nader at Wheeling
Warren’s Darius Paul at Pontiac
Brooks’ Michael Powell at Waubonsie Valley
Mundelein’s Ryan Sawvell at Jacobs
Neuqua Valley’s Jim Stocki at Elgin
York’s Will Sullivan at York
Simeon’s Steve Taylor at Pontiac
Farragut’s DJ Tolliver at Public League
Lyons’ Nick Zeisloft at York
What did the holiday tournaments teach us:
No. 1 Simeon shouldn’t be handed the state title just yet. The Wolverines did remain undefeated after winning the Pontiac championship, but they were tested by Lockport and Warren. Simeon has a tough schedule ahead, and it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if the Wolverines lost somewhere down the line.
No. 2 Benet is Simeon’s top competition right now. With Morgan Park being upset by Proviso East, Benet took advantage of its opportunity and ran the table at Proviso West. Matt Parisi showed throughout the tournament he can provide the Redwings with a consistent third scorer to assist Sobolewski and Frank Kaminsky.
No. 4 Thornton has to be respected as one of the elite teams. The Wildcats don’t have the stars that Simeon, Benet, De La Salle and others have, but they have a lot of really good players and they play well together.
No. 7 Morgan Park still needs work. The Mustangs were expected to battle Benet in the Proviso West championship, but were upset by Proviso East in the second round. Morgan Park’s secondary players struggled in the loss.
No. 12 Crete-Monee and No. 20 Evanston are beginning to put it together under first-year coaches. Crete-Monee coach Matt Ryndak and Evanston coach Mike Ellis suffered a few early losses, but now have their teams clicking. Crete-Monee finished second at the Big Dipper, and Evanston won the DeKalb tournament.
No. 19 Downers Grove South has the pieces to be a state contender. The Mustangs possess two high-level guards in Wilbut and Jamall Millison, a capable big man in 6-foot-8 Ziggy Riauka and a number of solid role players. When Downers Grove South plays well, like it did at the Jack Tosh tournament, it can be dangerous.