High School: Benet
The Class 3A and 4A boys basketball playoffs begin on Monday. Here’s a glance at the top games and players to see this week.
Five regional semifinals to see
1. St. Charles East vs. St. Charles North at St. Charles North on Wednesday
2. Marist vs. Brother Rice at Marist on Tuesday
3. Stevenson vs. Prospect at Stevenson on Wednesday
4. Benet vs. Bolingbrook at Metea Valley on Wednesday
5. Neuqua Valley vs. Naperville Central at Neuqua Valley on Wednesday
Five potential regional championships to see on Friday
1. St. Rita vs. Whitney Young at Whitney Young
2. Bogan vs. De La Salle at Mount Carmel
3. Farragut vs. St. Joseph at Nazareth
4. Crane vs. Riverside-Brookfield at Riverside-Brookfield
5. Minooka vs. Bloom at Joliet Central
6. Crete-Monee vs. Joliet West at Thornton
7. West Aurora vs. Naperville North at Oswego
8. Harlan vs. Morgan Park at Rich Central
9. Evanston vs. Notre Dame at Notre Dame
10. Schaumburg vs. Glenbard West at Glenbard West
Ten to players to see in regional play (alphabetical order)
There will likely be plenty of time to see Simeon’s Jabari Parker and some of the other stars in the area, but these players and teams may or may not be around come next week.
1. David Cohn, junior, York: It hasn’t been a great year for high-scoring numbers, but Cohn has been one of the exceptions. He can drop 30-plus points on any night. He had 47 points just recently. York is a No. 4 seed in the Lake Park regional.
2. Willie Conner, senior, Crane: Conner improved his game this season and made himself a mid-major college prospect. Crane has been up and down this season, but Conner has been consistent. Crane is a No. 5 seed in the Riverside-Brookfield regional.
3. Tony Hicks, senior, St. Rita: Hicks, a Penn recruit, has been as good as any senior in the state. He’s been averaging 25 points a game. St. Rita is a No. 4 seed in the Whitney Young regional.
4. Mike LaTulip, senior, Prospect: LaTulip is headed to Illinois next year as a preferred walk-on. He’s been one of the area’s top shooters and scorers this year. Prospect is a No. 9 seed in the Stevenson regional.
5. Jahlil Okafor, sophomore, Young: Okafor is the state’s top sophomore and among the nation’s top players in the Class of 2014. The state hasn’t seen a big man as skilled as Okafor since possibly Eddy Curry. Whitney Young is a No. 5 seed in the Whitney Young regional.
6. Sean O’Mara, sophomore, Benet: O’Mara, a 6-9 center, has emerged as one of the state’s top young prospects. He’s a skilled big man and is following in the footsteps of former Benet center Frank Kaminsky. Benet is a No. 6 seed in the Metea Valley regional.
7. Michael Orris, senior, Crete-Monee: Orris, a 6-3 point guard, is headed to Illinois next season. He’s expected to help backup Tracy Abrams there. Crete-Monee is a No. 4 seed in the Thornton regional.
8. Juwan Starks, senior, West Aurora: Starks is on the verge of West Aurora’s career-scoring record of 1,613 points, which is owned by Billy Taylor (1987-1991). Starks is 60 points shy of matching Taylor. West Aurora is a No. 4 seed in the Oswego regional.
9. Tyler Ulis, sophomore, Marian Catholic: Ulis, a 5-8 point guard, is a scoring machine. He put up 38 points in a loss to St. Viator last month. Marian Catholic is a No. 7 seed and could face Andrew in the Andrew regional championship.
10. Milik Yarbrough, sophomore, Zion-Benton: Yarbrough could eventually be one of the nation’s top players in the Class of 2014. He’s a multi-skilled 6-6 guard/forward. Zion-Benton is a No. 16 seed in the Zion-Benton regional.
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Here’s a look back at this season’s holiday tournaments:
The honor goes to Pontiac this season. Having Simeon helped, but Pontiac was about much more than Simeon this season. On the final day alone, fans were treated to three overtimes games, two of which went to double overtime, and nearly witnessed Simeon upset by Peoria Manual. It would be hard to find two better holiday tournament semifinal games than Curie-Warren and Simeon-Manual anywhere in the country.
St. Ignatius is the reason for York finishing second here. While the tournament favorites won at Proviso West, the McDipper, Pontiac and plenty of others tournaments, St. Ignatius added an element of surprise at York. The Wolfpack first fought back from a double-digit deficit to defeat Downers Grove South in the semifinals and then defeated De La Salle in the championship.
Curie 77, Warren 68, 2 OT at Pontiac: In the first Pontiac semifinal, Warren forced a first overtime when JoVaughn Gaines drained a 3-pointer from the corner in the final seconds of regulation and then sent the game into a second overtime when Jon Geske dropped in a late layup. Curie won in the end. Devin Foster had 27 points in the win.
Simeon 48, Peoria Manual 47 at Pontiac: Not to be outdone by the first semifinal, Simeon and Peoria Manual went down to the buzzer to determine their game. Manual had two shots at overtaking Simeon on its final possession, but missed a shot around the basket and had the ball stolen in the game’s final seconds. The game had 10 lead changes.
St. Ignatius 47, De La Salle 44, OT at York: In the championship game, St. Ignatius senior Brian Howard sent the game into overtime with an off-balance 3-pointer with four seconds left, and the Wolfpack prevailed in overtime again the tournament favorites.
St. Ignatius 52, Downers Grove South 50 at York: In the semifinals, St. Ignatius overcame a 12-point deficit to upset Downers Grove South. Abdoulie Contch scored the game-winner in the lane with 1.5 seconds left.
Elgin 57, Glenbard North 51 at Elgin: Before Elgin could win close semifinal and championship games, it had to win a tight quarterfinal matchup with Glenbard North. Former AAU teammates, Elgin’s Kory Brown and Glenbard North’s Josh Fleming, went head to head in the final minutes. Fleming had a game-high 21 points, but Brown, who had 19 points, came out with the victory.
Crete-Monee 67, Seton 66, OT at Rich South: In the semifinals, Crete-Monee’s Marvie Keith sank two free throws with 35 seconds left to lift his team to the upset victory. Mark Conner scored 19 points off the bench for Crete-Monee. Crete-Monee squandered a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter to allow overtime.
Metea Valley 69, Rolling Meadows, OT at Hinsdale South: Metea Valley nearly saw its unbeaten season ruined by Rolling Meadows, which led 39-30 heading into the fourth quarter. Spearheaded by Kenny Obendorf and his 20 points, Metea Valley rallied in regulation and won in overtime.
New Trier 61, Homewood-Flossmoor 58 at Proviso West: The second-round matchup was expected to be a good one, and it didn’t disappoint. The game went back and forth until New Trier got hot in the second half and connected on seven 3-pointers in the final quarters. Connor Boehm had 25 points in the win. Tyrone Sherman had 24 points for Homewood-Flossmoor.
All-tournament first team
New Trier senior forward Connor Boehm, Proviso West tournament: Boehm has been one of the most consistent players in the state this season. At Proviso West had 25 points and nine rebounds vs. Homewood-Flossmoor, 14 points and 14 rebounds vs. Morgan Park, 16 points and six rebounds vs. Proviso East and 17 points and seven rebounds vs. Von Steuben.
Elgin senior guard Kory Brown, Elgin: Brown stepped up game after game in the Maroons’ run to their own holiday tournament championship. He had a 18 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals in Elgin’s upset win over La Lumiere in the tournament championship.
Proviso East senior guard Keith Carter, Proviso West: Carter keyed the Pirates’ run to their first Proviso West title since 1991 and was awarded the tournament MVP. He had 18 points and five steals in a win over Benet in the quarterfinals.
Bloom senior guard Donald Moore, Rich South: Carter’s point guard play led the Blazing Trojans to their first McDipper title since 1995. He had 14 points and four assists in the title game. He was named the tournament MVP.
Simeon senior forward Steve Taylor, Pontiac: Jabari Parker may have won the MVP trophy at Pontiac, but many, including Parker, thought it should have gone to Taylor. Taylor had 11 points and seven rebounds to lead the top-ranked Wolverines over Curie in the championship game.
All-tournament second team
St. Ignatius senior guard Brian Howard, York: Howard and St. Ignatius surprised Downers Grove South and De La Salle on their way to the York title. Howard sent the championship game into overtime with a 3-pointer and finished with 20 points. He was named tournament MVP.
Metea Valley senior guard Kenny Obendorf, Hinsdale South: Obendorf continued to put up big numbers while helping Metea Valley to the Hinsdale South tournament championship. He had 24 points in the championship game and was named the tournament MVP.
Benet sophomore center Sean O’Mara, Proviso West: O’Mara isn’t as hyped as some of the state’s sophomores, but he’s been more productive than most of them. He was impressive throughout Proviso West. He had 20 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks against Proviso East in the semifinals.
Simeon junior forward Jabari Parker, Pontiac: Parker didn’t disappoint the sellout crowds at Pontiac. He hit difficult jumpers, swatted shots and threw down a few jaw-dropping dunks. In Simeon’s one-point win over Peoria Manual, he scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Warren senior forward Darius Paul, Pontiac: Paul averaged 15.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in four games at Pontiac. With fellow post player Nathan Boothe in foul trouble against Curie, Paul scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
Andrew junior forward Jubril Adekoya, Kankakee
Plainfield East senior forward Brian Bennett, Pekin; Crane senior guard Willie Conner, Romeoville; De La Salle junior forward Alvin Ellis, York; Stevenson senior guard Michael Fleming; Curie senior guard Devin Foster, Pontiac; Morgan Park junior guard Billy Garret Jr., Proviso West; North Chicago senior guard Aaron Simpson, Bloomington; Crete-Monee junior forward LaQuon Treadwell, Rich South; Downers Grove South senior guard Jerron Wilbut, York
Andrew (9-0): Won the Kankakee’s holiday tournament, biggest upcoming test could be at Thornwood on Jan. 20.
Bloom (13-0): Won the McDipper, have plenty of tough games in the future, including at Homewood-Flossmoor on Jan. 24.
Immaculate Conception (12-0): Won its own holiday tournament, could still be undefeated heading into matchup at Elgin on Feb. 15.
Glenbard West (10-0): Won its own holiday tournament, could be challenged this week when playing at Bolingbrook and York.
Metea Valley (13-0): Won Hinsdale South’s holiday tournament, will host Lake Park, which is also undefeated in the Upstate Eight Valley, on Saturday.
Plainfield East (11-0): Won the Pekin holiday tournament, hosts Wheeling tournament winner Naperville Central on Jan. 17.
Simeon (12-0): Won the Pontiac holiday tournament, face nationally-ranked No. 36 Miller Grove in West Virginia on Saturday.
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1. The headliner:On Tuesday, East Aurora vs. Benet was the marquee game. On Wednesday, it’s No. 8 Homewood-Flossmoor vs. No. 9 Crete-Monee in the Thornwood sectional semifinals. They met in January, and Crete-Monee pulled out a 67-62 win behind 25 points by DePaul recruit Jamee Crockett. Homewood-Flossmoor has returned junior forward Tim Williams since then and is picking up steam. Both teams have multiple Division I players and are state title contenders. The winner plays Thornton in the sectional championship on Friday.
3. Next up for the Boat Show:East Aurora’s Ryan Boatright and Co. shocked the state by knocking off previously-unbeaten No. 1 Benet on Tuesday. Which team will face the hot-handed Tomcats in the East Aurora sectional championship will be decided between Downers Grove South and Glenbard East on Wednesday. Both teams have stellar backcourts and have been ranked the entire season. Downers Grove South will be favored, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Glenbard East emerged victorious.
4. City vs. suburban: Curie and Lyons has each lost only two games all season. Curie lost to Niles West at the Pontiac holiday tournament and fell to Brooks by three points in the Public League tournament. Lyons lost by one point to Dowers Grove South in December and lost to Riverside-Brookfield in early December. This has the all makings of a tight battle at the Argo sectional. The winner plays No. 2 Simeon.
5. We meet again:Niles West coach Bob Williams will face his former team Schaumburg in the New Trier sectional semifinals. Williams coached 18 seasons at Schaumburg, had a 347-155 record and won one state championship. He resigned from Schaumburg due to differences with the administration in 2009 and was hired at Niles West before last season. Niles West is 18-11 this season, and Schaumburg has gone 17-11.
2. Oh, the talent: The entire court will consist of nearly all Division I-caliber players at times during the De La Salle-Whitney Young sectional semifinal at York. De La Salle is led by seniors Mike Shaw, an Illinois recruit, and Dre Henley, who is one of the area’s top unsigned players, and sophomore stars Alex Foster and Jaylon Tate. Whitney Young has even more Division I talent. Sam Thompson is headed to Ohio State. Tommy Hamilton Jr. is one of the nation’s top sophomores. Jahlil Okafor and Paul White are two of the country’s premier freshmen. Gabriel Snider recently committed to UIC, and he comes off the bench.
3. South Side showdown: Tuesday’s schedule is packed with potentially great games, and Mount Carmel vs. Simeon in the Argo sectional semifinals is one of them. Illinois recruit Tracy Abrams leads the Caravan, and Jabari Parker, one of the nation’s top sophomores, heads up Simeon.
4. Unsigned stars: Niles North’s Abdel Nader and Notre Dame’s Quinton Chievous are two of the state’s top unsigned players, and they will face each other in the New Trier sectional semifinals. Notre Dame defeated Niles North 61-50 in the Wheeling holiday tournament earlier this season. Chievous had 17 points and 17 rebounds, and Nader finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.
5. Downstate affair: If there’s a game to watch outside of the Chicago area on Tuesday, it’s Peoria Central vs. Peoria Notre Dame in a sectional semifinal. Peoria Notre Dame is undefeated and is among the favorites to win the Class 3A title. Peoria Central is playing some of its best basketball and has the talent to compete with Notre Dame. The winner will likely advance to the state tournament.
The Redwings’ jump came after defeating Simeon 58-54 before a packed house at UIC on Saturday. Benet improved to 26-0 with the win.
"It is a real credit to our players, and it’s very exciting for the school,” Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said of the ranking. “Our team remains very level-headed in its approach to the season. We understand that we have to play well each and every game. The maturity of our players has been the most important reason for our success. It's a nice honor to be ranked so highly, but the most important part of the season is just beginning."
Falling to Benet coupled with another loss to Whitney Young last week knocked Simeon down in the FAB 50. The Wolverines (23-2) dropped to No. 21 after being No. 4 last week.
Benet and Simeon could meet again in the state semifinals of the Class 4A playoffs in Peoria.
Peoria Notre continued to be the only other Illinois team in the rankings. The Irish (24-2) jumped five spots to No. 25.
In a game that lived up to every ounce of hype, No. 2 Benet defeated No. 1 Simeon 58-54 in the City-Suburban Showdown before 8,184 fans at UIC Pavilion on Saturday.
Simeon (23-2) had been the area’s top-ranked team since the opening day of the season, and it didn’t go down without a fight. It wasn’t until Benet’s Matt Parisi sank two free throws with 3.5 seconds left that Simeon was overtaken.
A season ago, Simeon defeated Benet in double overtime of the Hinsdale Central supersectional.
Benet’s fans, which made up of the bulk of the arena, erupted in cheers when the Redwings’ win was finalized. The players ran into their locker room, shouting in celebration, but came out more reserved.
“It’s a great honor to be No. 1, but you still have to play the games,” Benet senior Frank Kaminsky said.
Benet is the No. 1 team right now, and there might not be a better combo than Kaminsky and his running mate David Sobolewski. Sobolewski, a Northwestern recruit, and Kaminsky, a Wisconsin recruit, took turns pushing the Redwings (26-0) forward.
Sobolewski struck early, scoring eight first-quarter points to put Benet ahead 16-6. He would finish with 15 points and five assists.
Later, it was Kaminsky who came through. Although he has struggled from deep this season, he sank two clutch two 3-pointers in the third quarter. He finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and five blocks.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. “They all stepped up and did what they had to for us.”
Simeon’s own star, sophomore Jabari Parker, did everything he could to keep the Wolverines in the game. He scored a game-high 21 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out two steals and had two steals.
“He was the one person we thought they didn’t have an answer for,” Smith said of Parker.
Heidkamp was impressed.
“He’s one of the best I’ve seen in some time,” Heidkamp said.
Pat Boyle (10 points) and Pat McInerney (nine points) also helped Benet in the win.
Rashawn McElrath (nine points, eight rebounds) and Darien Walker (seven points) contributed for Simeon.
No. 12 Morgan Park 57, Rock Island 54: In a matchup of Morgan Park’s Wayne Blackshear, a Louisville recruit, and Rock Island’s Chasson Randle, a Stanford recruit, Blackshear and the Mustangs came out on top in the event’s second game.
Blackshear scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for Morgan Park (18-5). Randle finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists for Rock Island (23-3).
No. 13 Lyons 55, No. 7 Proviso East 53: In the event’s first game, Lyons forward Spencer Mahoney scored the game-winner on a layup with 3.2 seconds remaining.
Dylan Fiedler (14 points), Eric Powers (13 points), Nick Zeisloft (11 points) and Mahoney (11 points) all scored in double figures for Lyons (22-2).
The loss was the second of the weekend for Proviso East (19-5). The Pirates also lost to Downers Grove South on Friday. Against Lyons, they were led by Sterling Brown (14 points) and Trashaun Carroll (12 points, eight rebounds).
He isn’t likely to be a first-team All-State selection.
He doesn’t score 30 points per game.
If those were distinctions Kaminsky sought, those around him believe he could obtain them. But it’s not what Kaminsky wants. What he seeks are challenges.
In Kaminsky’s eyes, there isn’t a reward in dropping 30 points a game, dominating smaller opponents or building an undefeated record by beating inferior teams. Instead, he prefers to be as multi-dimensional as possible, face players of his 6-foot-11 size and have Benet go unbeaten by taking on the best of teams.
“People want big numbers, stats or whatever,” Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. “He’s won a lot of games. He gives up scoring to do a lot. He could score 30 or 40. When people talk about [Ryan] Boatright, [Wayne] Blackshear, they deserve everything they get, but they’re in different systems, different situations. Frank sacrifices individual scoring to win games and play within a team concept.”
If scoring was what the Redwings needed, Kaminsky would give it to them. There have been games where the situation has called for Kaminsky to be the offensive aggressor, and he’s proven with a 25-point performance against Oswego and a 30-point one against Notre Dame that he can do that.
More often, Benet asks Kaminsky to utilize his full tool set. Atypical to most players of his 6-11, 235-pound frame, Kaminsky has a plentiful array of tools to choose from.
He blocks shots, averaging 4.2 per game, and alters even more. He knows to use his size and rarely gets into foul trouble.
He makes shots. He’s good for 68% of what he puts up from the field, and he’s even better in the paint. He’s able to step out to 15 feet and consistently drain jumpers. He can also knock down 3-pointers and rarely misses in practice, but he has struggled to put it together in games.
He rebounds, averaging 10 a game. Again, he understands how to use his height and width. He puts himself in a perfect position around the basket, boxes out and snatches the rebound.
He can dish the ball, averaging 3.4 assists. He’ll attack one-on-one coverages without hesitating, but put two or three defenders on him and he’ll find his open teammate.
He can also handle it. Because Kaminsky never went through one major growth spurt, his coordination never left him. He was a 6-3 freshman, a 6-6 sophomore, a 6-10 junior and now a 6-11 ½ senior. He was a guard growing up and has kept the bulk of those skills. When starting point guard David Sobolewski, a Northwestern Wildcats recruit, injured his back in January, Heidkamp turned to Kaminsky to bring the ball up court.
“I’ve worked on every skill since I was a little kid,” Kaminsky said. “I just love basketball, all of it in general. I like to be able to do everything. I take pride in it.”
Opponents aren’t as fond of it. Opposing coaches struggle with putting a smaller or larger defender on him. He’s exactly what coaches are referring to when they talk about matchup nightmares.
Notre Dame coach Tom Les has had the unpleasant task of facing Kaminsky twice this season. The first time around, Kaminsky scored 32 points on 14-of-16 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. Last week, Kaminsky had game-highs of 16 points and 13 rebounds.
“We’ve played other guys of his size,” Les said. “Peoria Notre Dame’s Max Bielfeldt and St. Ignatius’ Nnanna Egwu, who is going to Illinois Fighting Illini, are kids around the same size. The difference with Frank is he steps outside a little bit, and he’s a little more mobile than the other bigs.”
To help showcase that all-around game against other elite centers and to high-major college programs, Kaminsky joined the Illinois Wolves, one of the state’s elite club teams.
Kaminsky wasn’t a star overnight on the travel circuit, and it didn’t panic him. Kaminsky continued to develop his skills, learned how to guard and be guarded by players of his size and, in time, discovered how to control a game at the club level as he did the high school one.
“Frank and his family are an anomaly in travel basketball showing restraint and common sense as he developed,” Wolves coach Mike Mullins said. “Frank accepted the fact that his time would come and like other Wolves’ players that his growth as a player would get him to where he wanted to go. The trust Frank and his family placed in our staff was refreshing in this day of instant gratification.
“The skill set and work ethic Frank already has, coupled with the ability to learn and be a great teammate, are invaluable assets that Frank will carry with him.”
Kaminsky’s multi-faceted game would be useful in most college systems, but it’s easy to see why he and Wisconsin Badgers found each other to be perfect matches. The Badgers and versatile big men have achieved continual success in Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan’s swing offense.
“When you talk about fit, Kaminsky fits the Badgers like a hand in a glove,” ESPN recruiting coordinator Reggie Rankin said. “He has great size in terms of length and skill. He’s perfect for pick-and-pop situations to 18-19 feet. He has good mobility and passes well for a big man. As he adds strength and works daily with Bo Ryan and his staff, the sky is the limit because of Kaminsky’s great upside. The Badgers did a great job of evaluating to fit not only their needs, but their system as well.”
Badgers assistant coach Lamont Paris believes so as well.
“All of the things, especially from bigger guys who have had success at Wisconsin, he has those skills,” Paris said. “Because of what we do offensively, having a skill set is critical to have success. He’s got good length and good size and a good frame. He’s capable of doing a lot of things.”
Paris also thinks Kaminsky should be ranked higher than where is among other Class of 2011 players. ESPN Recruiting doesn’t have him in its top 100 and he’s the No. 15 overall center. But like current Wisconsin stars Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer, Paris expects Kaminsky will have the last laugh.
“I think when guys, especially on the AAU scene and high school scene, are out there scoring 47 points, they’re going to garner a little more attention at the national level,” Paris said. “Because a guy scores 47 points, people are going to take notice of it. Guys like Frank go about their business and are consistent every night.
“Whether or not he’s capable of that, that’s not the makeup of him. The biggest thing is his team wins. There are other guys who have all this reputation, and they’re surrounded by good players, and their teams aren’t winning.”
It’s why Kaminsky doesn’t care what his numbers will be come Saturday when Benet meets Simeon. All he wants is a victory.
“It means a lot,” Kaminsky said. “We want to be undefeated the whole season.”
For that to happen, though, Kaminsky likely has to do as he normally does.
“We need him to play well,” Heidkamp said. “It would be naïve for me to say, ‘If he has a poor game we would win.’ ”
The Wolverines improved to 20-0 with a win over Batavia on Saturday. Simeon opens the Public League playoffs against Wells on Tuesday. They could face rival Morgan Park and Louisville recruit Wayne Blackshear again in the second round on Thursday.
Benet also jumped three spots to No. 26 in the FAB 50. The Redwings are 24-0 after two more wins last week.
Simeon and Benet, which are No. 1 and No. 2 in ESPNChicago.com’s rankings, face each other in the City/Suburban Showdown at UIC on Feb. 19.
Peoria Notre Dame (21-0) was the only other Illinois team in the national rankings. The Irish moved up one spot to No. 35 in this week’s FAB 50.
Simeon took a step closer in its quest for the nation’s No. 1 boys high school basketball ranking on Tuesday.
The Wolverines moved up one spot to No. 7 in ESPN RISE’s latest POWERADE FAB 50 following their win over Morgan Park on Saturday. Simeon, the defending Class 4A state champions, is 16-0 this season and has won 23 consecutive games dating back to last season.
Benet also jumped five spots to No. 34 in this week’s poll. The Redwings improved to 21-0 with a win over Glenbard East on Saturday.
Simeon and Benet, which are No. 1 and No. 2 in ESPNChicago.com’s rankings, meet in the City/Suburban Showdown at UIC on Feb. 19.
Peoria Notre Dame, the only other Illinois team in FAB 50, moved up three spots to No. 43. The Irish are 18-0 on the season.
But when it comes to one single day, there may not be a bigger one for Chicago-area high school basketball fans
than Saturday, when three games feature top-10 teams battling each other.
No. 1 Simeon vs. No. 5 Morgan Park at Chicago State at 7:30 p.m. is the headliner. The teams are rivals. Both are city- and state-title contenders. Both possess nationally-ranked players in Morgan Park’s Wayne Blackshear and Simeon’s Jabari Parker and have plenty of other Division-I talent. The game can be seen on ESPN3.com.
In the second best game of the day, No. 2 Benet meets No. 6 Glenbard East in the High School Hoops Showdown at 8:30 p.m. at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. Undefeated Benet is led by Northwestern recruit David Sobolewski and Wisconsin recruit Frank Kaminsky. Glenbard East is 14-2, and its only losses are to undefeated Peoria Notre Dame and No. 4 Proviso East. Its stars are Illinois State recruit Jon Hill and Northern Illinois recruit Zach Miller.
There’s also a full slate of action at the Whitney Young Shootout, which features six games and begins at noon. Every matchup features at least one ranked team, but the biggest game is No. 9 Hales Franciscan vs. No. 10 Whitney Young at 6 p.m. Hales Franciscan is powered by brothers Aaron and Aaric Armstead. Whitney Young has a mass supply of Division I players, including Ohio State -bound Sam Thompson.
1. The season likely won’t end with an undefeated team. Neuqua Valley and Thornton recently left the ranks of the unbeatens, leaving just Benet and Simeon. Benet’s schedule still includes three highly-ranked teams in Glenbard East, Notre Dame and Simeon. Simeon still has to face Benet, Morgan Park and Whitney Young. It’s unlikely either of those teams will come out unscathed when it’s all said and done.
2. It’s hard to figure out how good the Public League is this season. Sure, Simeon, Morgan Park, Whitney Young and Brooks are all implanted into the rankings. But what about Crane, Curie, Farragut, Hyde Park, Marshall, North Lawndale and Orr? Where do they all fit in with the rest of the top 20 teams? In just the past few weeks, here are some of the confusing results -- Farragut and North Lawndale beat Hyde Park; Hyde Park defeated Orr; Farragut defeated Crane twice, but lost to Orr; Crane and Marshall beat Orr and Marshall defeated North Lawndale. And then on Sunday, North Lawndale knocked off No. 3 Thornton, a non-Public League team that had been unbeaten. The Public League could end up with a lot more ranked teams, but too many of them are beating up each other to figure it all out for now.
3. Mundelein is a team to keep an eye on. The Mustangs haven’t entered the rankings yet, but they’re getting close. With their 75-68 overtime win over Zion-Benton on Saturday, their winning streak reached 12 games and they improved to 18-2. Ryan Sawvell and Robert Knar make for a tough 1-2 combo. Against Zion-Benton, Sawvell had 26 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks, and Knarr finished with 25 points, four 3-pointers and nine rebounds. Mundelein’s biggest challenge ahead will be Warren on Jan. 29.
4. De La Salle’s loss to Fenwick on Friday makes it difficult to believe De La Salle is a state contender at the moment. Not that Fenwick is awful, but the Meteors shouldn’t have any trouble with a team like the Friars if they’re going to compete for a state championship. It didn’t help that Fenwick lost the following day to Ridgewood. De La Salle has talent, but it needs to be more consistent.
5. Everyone knows about Vernon Hills senior DaVaris Daniels’ football ability, but he’s got a basketball game, too. Despite still juggling football duties -- he recently played in the Under Armour All-American Game -- Daniels has been scoring 20-plus points on a consistent basis for the Cougars. He had 27 points in his latest game on Saturday. When Daniels’ father, Washington Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels, was asked Monday if his son could play basketball at Notre Dame as well, Phillip said he thought with Daniels’ shooting ability and hops it was a possibility.
6. St. Charles East sophomore guard Kendall Stephens is a hot recruiting commodity. Northwestern was the first to offer him a scholarship. Wisconsin followed in late December. Lately, even more schools are checking him out. Purdue coach Matt Painter was at his game last week. It isn’t surprising the Boilermakers are interested in the 6-4 Stephens. His father, Everette Stephens, starred for Purdue before playing in the NBA.