Joe Henricksen’s weekly three-pointer

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No. 1

Over the past decade there hasn’t been a better basketball league in the suburbs than the North Suburban Lake. Regardless of region, it’s been one of the premier, yet underrated, basketball conferences in the state.

From the not-too-long-ago days of Warren’s Brandon Paul (Illinois), Zion-Benton’s Lenzelle Smith (Ohio State), Mundelein’s Ben Brust (Wisconsin) and Lake Forest’s Matt Vogrich (Michigan) starring in the league to the current crop of talent that includes Stevenson’s Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw, Zion-Benton’s Milik Yarbrough and Lake Forest’s Evan Boudreaux, this conference has produced high-level players and highly-ranked teams on a regular basis.

This was proven and showcased again over the holidays. Stevenson went 5-0 at the prestigious Proviso West Holiday Tournament, Lake Forest won the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament at York and Zion-Benton beat Carmel to capture the Jacobs Holiday Tournament title. Warren, which played unbeaten Stevenson to a one-point game in conference play just prior to the holidays, finished 3-1 in a tough Pontiac Holiday Tournament field.

Currently, Stevenson, Lake Forest and Zion-Benton are a combined 37-3, and six of the seven teams in the league head into January with a winning record.

The league race, along with a likely North Suburban Conference crossover title tilt with loaded North Chicago to end the regular season, will be the perfect recipe in preparing for what figures to be an absolutely loaded Lake Zurich Sectional in March. Joining the North Suburban Lake’s “Big Three” of Stevenson (13-0), Lake Forest (12-2) and Zion-Benton (12-1) in the sectional will be unbeaten Fremd (13-0), St. Viator (11-2), Highland Park (10-3) and Deerfield (10-4).

No. 2

With Curie’s loss (without Cliff Alexander) Saturday night, only two unbeaten teams remain in the Chicago area. And of those two, surprising Fremd may be the one with the best odds of running the table in the regular season.

Unbeaten Stevenson faces Marian Catholic, Simeon and Benet in non-conference play, along with a rugged slate in the North Suburban Lake.

Fremd, the overwhelming favorite in the Mid-Suburban League, has a less daunting schedule, though Carmel (10-3) and Evanston (10-4) are a pair of formidable non-conference opponents remaining on the schedule.

Led by 6-5 guard Riley Glassman, the Vikings have tremendous size, play physical and have a wealth of experience. Plus, after playing just one home game thus far in its 13-0 start, Fremd will play 10 of its final 14 games on its home floor.

No. 3

The IHSA recently released the sectional assignments for the boys’ state basketball tournament.

There is still plenty of basketball to be played before seeds are awarded in early February and regional play begins in two months, but based on what we’ve seen through December, here are some projected super-sectional possibilities that look awfully appetizing in Class 4A:

• West Aurora, Hinsdale Central or Benet vs. Proviso East, York, Oak Park-River Forest or Morton in the Hinsdale Central Super.

• Curie, Young, Simeon or St. Rita vs. Loyola Academy or Maine South at a TBA super-sectional site.

• Marian Catholic vs. Edwardsville in the Normal Super.

• Larkin or Rockford Auburn vs. Stevenson in the DeKalb Super.

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