St. Viator charging; Plainfield E. strong

Here are a few prep hoops observations as the season reaches its most crucial weeks.

1. I was torn on whether or not to rank St. Viator this week: It has been the most dominant team in the East Suburban Catholic Conference, but the conference hasn’t been stellar this season. It’s also had a few questionable losses, including Naperville Central and Prospect. With St. Viator having three games this week, including back-to-back contests on Monday and Tuesday, I decided to rank the Lions and see if they were worthy of staying there. So far, they’re two for two. They needed to fight for both wins, but they did pull out victories against Nazareth and Prospect. Tuesday’s win also did come with some added adversity as its leading scorer Ore Arogundade was on the bench for most of the game with an ankle injury.

2. Plainfield East, which is ranked No. 6 in ESPNChicago.com’s poll , continued to prove itself as an elite team on Tuesday: The Bengals defeated St. Charles East 79-69 in overtime despite shooting 21-of-36 from the free-throw line. Brian Bennett (24 points) and Jawan Slaughter (20 points) led the way for Plainfield East. The Bengals (23-1) have shown throughout the season they have the inside and outside players to make a legitimate run come the playoffs.

3. While St. Viator and Plainfield East continued to validate themselves on Tuesday, York took a step back: After winning 13 consecutive games, the Dukes had a tough time against a quality Oak Park team on Tuesday night. Oak Park limited York’s offense and its star David Cohn in a 57-35 win. Cohn was 5-of-13 shooting and scored 14 points. With the win, the Huskies took the West Suburban Silver title. They’re also a team who could make a run in the playoffs.

4. Any remaining available tickets for Saturday’s City-Suburban Showdown will be on sale Saturday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Proviso West High School: Tickets are only currently available at the participating schools. The game was moved from the UIC Pavilion to Proviso West because of a NCAA rule, and the seating capacity dropped from 8,184 seats to around 2,000.