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Michael O’Brien’s notebook: Nov. 30, 2015

Good long day at Moraine Valley watching the Team Rose Classic. Sunday events are rough, always a lot of bookkeeping work to do preparing for the rankings. That makes it tough to find time to write six separate game stories, so lets go through each game here.

***

Curie 70, Proviso West 37

Junior Elijah Joiner just does not disappoint. He scored 16 and grabbed six rebounds. He was all over the place. Terry Smith Jr. was also impressive. Allonte Pickens lit it up from three-point range in the third quarter. This was my first look at transfer Landers Nolley II. He scored eight points and flashed his potential. The Condors are pretty much last year’s team, just everyone is bigger and stronger and smarter. They definitely lived up to their preseason ranking.

Proviso West was actually a bit better than expected. Big man Liddell Davis was a warrior. He had 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Simply refused to quit.

***

Marian Catholic 50, Westinghouse 43

Probably the best game of the day. The Spartans started super cold. They managed just one field goal in the first 12 minutes. Westinghouse led 34-31 at the half. Junior Coreyoun Rushin, a 6-6 forward, has improved a ton since last season. He was the best player on the floor, finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and shot 10-for-12. Rushin definitely showed potential last year, but he didn’t look particularly comfortable handling the ball. That has changed. Don’t be surprised if he has a major breakout season.

Sophomore guard Chase Adams led Marian Catholic with 14 points. The Spartans have had a ton of trouble scoring this season, something is obviously off with them right now. They have too much talent to be playing this pedestrian.

“It’s the chemistry,” Adams said. “Not everybody played last year. (TJ Smith) came back into the rotation and we are trying to figure it out. Coach took him out of the starting lineup for a little while to try and get his mind right, to try and get him hungry to play. We have to get our chemistry back together and we will be fine. In the summer we were looking great.”

A very honest answer from Adams. It will be interesting to see how long it takes Marian Catholic to jell. They have beaten some good teams already, the style points just aren’t there yet. TeeAaron Powell, a 6-8 junior, stepped up big Sunday scoring eight points in the fourth quarter.

***

Farragut 53, Crete-Monee 34

Farragut is big: tall and wide and strong. The key players are the same from last year, but boy are they better. Dulan Scott scored 17 points. He’s a 6-4 senior that can shoot it and get to the basket. He ran the game. Admirals coach Wolf Nelson thinks he’s one of the top ten players in the senior class.

“We are playing more as a team this year,” Scott said. “That’s the big difference so far.”

The other big difference is 6-8 center Tawone Keith. He scored nine and grabbed 15 points. He might be the most physically imposing player in the state. Keith said he lost 60 pounds in the offseason. He’s down to 265 now.

The Admirals could be a force in the Public League this season. They will join the Super 25 this week.

I’m not sure what to say about Crete-Monee. They have the size and skill. Something was really missing Sunday though. They lost to Joliet West in overtime on Saturday night. It’s possible that just took too much out of them.

***

Joliet West 59, Foreman 54

We will use that same Saturday night overtime game excuse for Joliet West as well. The Tigers had a seven-minute drought without a field goal in the first half. They led 31-27 at the break and did not trail in the second half, but I was expecting more polish from the preseason-ranked squad.

That may not have been realistic. Despite winning their own Thanksgiving Tournament, Joliet West is very young.

Teyvion Kirk has matured. The junior guard had eight points and seven rebounds. Trevian Bell scored 11 and grabbed six boards. Sophomore Mike Smith is definitely one to watch, he led the way with 14 points.

Foreman point guard Antonio Matthews is just 5-5, but he’s a player. The senior scored 14 and grabbed six boards.

***

Seton 66, Von Steuben 39

Seton was my favorite team of the day. Justin Domingo is doing a nice job with the program. Remember the name Javon Freeman. The 6-4 sophomore looked like a high-major prospect. He scored 13 and had nine rebounds. Tyler Houston scored 16 and junior Rashaad Williams had 14. Albert Haskins, a 6-6 senior, is strong and explosive. He had nine points and eight boards.

Probably best not to go to in-depth on Von Steuben. Really rough game for the Panthers.

***

Providence-St. Mel 62, Richards 59

The freshman did not disappoint. Taeyon Neal, St. Mel’s 6-8 center, has a ton of potential. He’s not quite as big, but he’s already ahead of where Michael Dunigan was as a freshman. He only had three points, but he’s one to get out and see.

Junior Eddie Burnett (22 points, nine rebounds) and senior Christian Norfleet (15 points) were capable and occasionally explosive. The Knights should be able to pull of some upsets in the Catholic League this year.

“We are young but we have heart,” Burnett said. “We fought hard to win that game. That’s how we have to fight every game.”

Jaylan Catledge led Richards with 21 points and eight rebounds. He was able to get to the basket at will.