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The opening tip of Conant vs. Prospect.

Michael O’Brien’s notebook: Nov. 21, 2016

SHARE Michael O’Brien’s notebook: Nov. 21, 2016
SHARE Michael O’Brien’s notebook: Nov. 21, 2016

The picture up there is the opening tip of the 2016-17 basketball season (for me and Conant and Prospect at least).

It was an interesting night at St. Viator. First off, props to Lions coach Quin Hayes for assembling a great field. Thanksgiving tournaments have been getting pretty stale the past few years, it is nice to have an enticing new option.

Conant came out and looked the part against Prospect. They had the swagger and ability of a team that could advance to Peoria. The Cougars had quite a few more capable guards than I expected, that is always a good sign. Backup CJ Deshazer, a senior, played some very nice minutes. He didn’t make the game story, but I asked Conant coach Tom McCormack about him.

“He played a lot last year, he gives us a spark,” McCormack said. “He defends, he assists, he does a lot of the little things.”

Obviously the talent of Jimmy Sotos, Ryan Davis and Mike Downing is likely to be the determining factor in just how good Conant is this season. But having guys like Deshazer on the bench is key, that’s what a lot of decent Mid-Suburban League teams have lacked the past few years.

Prospect is a solid team, they should have a nice season and beat some good teams. The Knights just shot too poorly to win on Monday.

***

I wasn’t able to watch the Highland Park-St. Viator game due to the football news that broke.

***

The final game of the night was Evanston-Libertyville. Nojel Eastern wound up with nice numbers, but a lot of that was after the game was well in hand for the Wildkits.I don’t want to be too critical of him, but living up to “best player in the area” status isn’t easy business.

Eastern definitely did a nice job on the boards. And I was very impressed with Evanston’s trio of sophomores.

I had only seen Libertyville’s Drew Peterson once before this, in a loss to Niles North in the playoffs. He was much better tonight, it was very clear why he’s a highly-sought after college prospect. The junior is 6-7 and can really shoot it. He was impressive from three, hit some mid-range jumpers and even got to the basket a few times.

The Wildcats aren’t stacked with talent, but they play hard and Peterson is a massive load to handle.

***

Thoughts on some of Monday’s other interesting games.

Joliet Central 73, Romeoville 66 2 OT: How about that. Larry Thompson’s debut with the Steelmen is a huge success. Romeoville is stacked with young talent, they were a fringe Super 25 squad. This game was at Joliet Junior College, which is weird.

North Lawndale 67,Grant 59: The Phoenix got a scare in this one, they were trailing late. Carlos Hines had 24 points, Martrell Barnes had 14 points, 10 rebounds.

Lincoln-Way West 53, Plainfield Central 41: Who didn’t put Marco Pettinato on the preseason All-State team? Was that me? Whoops. He is poised for a massive senior year, had 34 points and 15 rebounds.

Rich East 78, St. Laurence 77: I’d call this a minor upset. Former Bull and Rich East grad Craig Hodges took over the Rockets with very little fanfare, but he’s off to a great start.

U-High 45, Lake Forest 38: U-High might be pretty good, but nobody seems sure about it. Nice first step.

Hillcrest 76, Thornwood 58: Word is the Hawks looked pretty great. Marcus Garrett had 28, Jalen Hughes 26.

Lane 48, Mount Carmel 47: The Indians might be an interesting team this season.

DePaul Prep 76, Taft 39: Can’t wait to get a look at Perry Cowan this season. He was incredibly composed and productive as a freshman last year. He scored 18. Freshman point guard Elliot Seeger scored 14.

Lincoln-Way East 63, Crete-Monee 60: Expected this to be one of the night’s best games and looks like it was. Junior Sam Shafer scored 20 for the Griffins and Dwayne Rose scored 25 for Crete.

St. Charles East 58, East Aurora 40: Massive game from junior Justin Hardy with 22 points and 14 rebounds.

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