There may not be any true high-profile prize fights this weekend, but here’s a short list of intriguing games, including several which will have an impact on conference races.
■ Morgan Park at Vocational • Thursday, Jan. 7
Maybe all of Morgan Park’s big wins of late –– a Proviso West Holiday Tournament sweep and a second win over Bogan –– will be cause for a letdown at CVS, which is an overlooked 11-3 on the year. … Nah. Morgan Park keeps it rolling.
■ Glenbard West at Oak Park-River Forest • Friday, Jan. 8
The Hilltoppers are one of two unbeaten teams remaining in the Chicago area and boast one of the most productive players in the state in William & Mary recruit Justin Pierce (24.7 ppg, 11 rpg). But this is one stop on the schedule that won’t be easy. A must-win game for OPRF if it has any hopes of a West Suburban Silver title, while it’s also a chance for a once promising season to get turned back around.
■ Deerfield at Niles North • Friday, Jan. 8
These two programs have won the last three Central Suburban League North titles, with Niles North winning in 2013 and Deerfield the past two seasons. They’re at it again, boasting a combined 21 wins. Deerfield, led by guard Jordan Baum, is off to a 3-0 start. Niles North sits one game back with the overlooked duo of guard Crishawn Cook and sophomore Damaria Franklin. These two unfortunately were forced to meet a week ago in the Hardwood Classic at Wheeling, where Deerfield won 62-55.
■ Rich Central at Crete-Monee • Friday, Jan. 8
A little south suburban clash with first place on the line between two 2-0 teams in the Southland Conference. Rich Central, led by the high-scoring but unknown combo of Jeremiah James and Glen Abram, has been plenty competitive. But Crete-Monee has four capable double-figure scorers in Jeremiah Matthews, Dwayne Rose, Victor Curry and Jalen McCoy.
■ Larkin at Batavia • Friday, Jan. 8
Although Batavia scuffled over the holidays at York, the Bulldogs are unbeaten at 4-0 in the Upstate Eight River, so Larkin needs this one badly. Look for Christian Negron and Company to get it done and tie things up in the UEC River.
■ Joliet West at Homewood-Flossmoor • Friday, Jan. 8
There weren’t many who believed H-F was ready to defend its Southwest Suburban Blue title so sternly. But here the Vikings are at 7-3 overall as coach Marc Condotti has done a nice job with this non-descript group, which is led by football star Kendric Pryor. Joliet West, meanwhile, is the most talented team in the league on paper. But is it ready to seize the moment after an early-season league loss to Stagg?
■ Libertyville at Zion-Benton • Friday, Jan. 8
A pair of 9-4 teams trying to show they are worthy challengers to Lake Zurich in the North Suburban Lake. Both need this one to stay one game back of the league leading Bears. Can Libertyville continue to show its surprise run at Wheeling over the holidays wasn’t a fluke?
■ Lincoln-Way Central at Thornton • Friday, Jan. 8
This is the biggest regular season game for Lincoln-Way Central since … It’s been awhile. But the 9-2 Knights, who were 4-22 a year ago, are in position for the program’s first winning season in 12 years. This might be Thornton’s 748th big game in its program’s history. Coach Tai Streets’ team is red-hot after winning the Big Dipper over the holidays.
■ Benet Academy at Fenwick • Saturday, Jan. 9
A pair of terrific coaches in Benet’s Gene Heidkamp and Fenwick’s Rick Malnati and a pair of teams that play brutally tough schedules duke it out in a non-conference game.
■ Bob Hambric Shootout at T.F. North
Saturday, Jan. 9
Gary (Westside) vs. Brooks at 12:30 p.m.
Rantoul vs. Hyde Park at 2:00 p.m.
Rock Island vs. East Chicago (Central) at 3:30 p.m.
H-F vs. Orr at 5:00 p.m.
Wasatch Academy (UT) vs. St. Joseph at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 10
Perspectives Calumet vs. North Lawndale at 12:30 p.m.
Wasatch Academy (UT) vs. Marshall at 2:00 p.m.
Danville vs. Hales Franciscan at 3:30 p.m.
North Chicago vs. Bogan at 5:00 p.m.
T.F. North vs. T.F. South at 6:30 p.m.
The best game will likely be the battle between Orr and H-F, with an interesting game featuring Hyde Park and a solid Rantoul team earlier in the day on Saturday. Then there is the rivalry game to wrap things up between the host school, T.F. North, and T.F. South.
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