The Chicago Public League playoffs are heating up, with the city quarterfinals to be played Saturday afternoon. Here is a look at those matchups, along with picks for each game, and a preview of the upcoming weekend of high school hoops in the Chicago area.
Chicago Public League Quarterfinals • Saturday
▪ Farragut at Curie
While Farragut was able to get by Red-North champ Uplift in the second round, coach Wolf Nelson’s Admirals will have their hands full with Curie. The Condors simply have too many weapons and too much depth for a team that’s short on both of those fronts. Look for Curie to overpower Farragut and cruise into the city semifinals.
Hoops Report pick: Curie 71, Farragut 55
▪ Westinghouse at Kenwood
With only two in-state losses on the season –– to state powers Belleville Althoff and Curie –– Kenwood has taken care of all the teams it should have beaten this year. And Kenwood should beat Westinghouse, despite the presence of the highly intriguing Coreyon Rushin, an athletic 6-6 junior, and productive senior Joshua Roberts, who hit the game-winner Wednesday night.
Kenwood’s bench has been a constant all season, while 6-5 senior Nick Robinson is starting to play like he has something to prove. That’s plenty enough to get by Westinghouse and set the stage for another Kenwood-Curie battle.
Hoops Report pick: Kenwood 60, Westinghouse 50
▪ Morgan Park vs. North Lawndale (at Collins)
You’ve got the No. 1 ranked team facing the most underrated team in the Chicago Public League. Now that sounds fun. Everyone knows what Morgan Park can do and is familiar with its style and personnel, led by the dynamic Charlie Moore. But few people are aware of the danger North Lawndale could cause the city giants with its balanced perimeter of point guard Tyrone Rhivers, Dexter Smith, Martrell Barnes and junior Carlos Hines.
It’s tempting to talk upset here as Morgan Park did just survive a scare in a 81-76 win over Hyde Park earlier this week. But there is bound to be a scare en route to five city wins in the playoffs. The Mustangs march on in its quest for city supremacy.
Hoops Report pick: Morgan Park 72, North Lawndale 64
▪ Young at Simeon
This respectful rivalry takes on added significance in this mid-February tussle. Young should come in as the loose underdog with nothing to lose, while Simeon must avoid looking ahead to a rubber match showdown with Morgan Park in the semifinals. The difference here is experience. With the varsity experience of Zach Norvell, Evan Gilyard and Josh Thomas, Simeon should take care of business against the youthful Dolphins.
Hoops Report pick: Simeon 64, Young 50
Friday, Feb. 12
▪ Niles North at Deerfield
A pivotal game in the Central Suburban League North. Deerfield, led by point guard Jordan Baum, is alone at the top, while Niles North and underrated guard Crishawn Cook is one game out. Niles North is hot, winning 10 of its last 11 games.
In an odd scheduling quirk, these two played twice in a two-week span. Deerfield beat Niles North 62-55 in the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, with Niles North shocking Deerfield 67-40 in the first CSL North meeting in early January when Cook scored 23 points.
▪ Thornton at Lincoln-Way Central
Yes, Thornton (19-1) has run away with and wrapped up the Southwest Suburban Red. Tai Streets has pumped life into the Wildcats in his first year as head coach. But this is more about how far Lincoln-Way Central has come and where it may be headed going forward.
Thornton remains a huge favorite, but surprising Lincoln-Way Central is a solid 15-6 and is gearing up for what will be a winnable sectional next month. Can Central, which has lost to Thornton twice already this season, show it can compete with one of the Chicago area’s best?
▪ Prairie Ridge at Grayslake North
How about a little love for a pair of teams with 20 wins apiece? A huge conference battle with a lot on the line in mid-February makes the regular season worthwhile. Prairie Ridge is 10-0 in the Fox Division of the Fox Valley Conference; Grayslake North sits just one game back at 9-1.
Prairie Ridge hopes to apply its three-quarter court pressure, play its zone, knock down some threes and use its balanced scoring to remain unbeaten in league play. Prairie Ridge handled Grayslake North easily the first time with a 71-53 win.
▪ Conant at Fremd
While Conant controls its own destiny in the Mid-Suburban League West with a two-game lead over Fremd, this is still a battle between 17 and 16 win teams, respectively. There is also a little bit of sectional seed implications as well, though Conant already owns one win over Fremd with a 45-38 victory back in December.
While Fremd has a win over Downers South and played both Deerfield and Evanston tough in defeat, Conant has the experience and guard play, led by junior point guard Jimmy Sotos, to run the table in the MSL West.
▪ Oak Park-River Forest at Glenbard West
While many people wrote OPRF off by mid-January as the promising Huskies fell to 7-9, coach Matt Maloney’s team has quietly put together a seven-game win streak. Maybe the naysayers were a bit premature.
What better time to completely right the ship than with a road win over Glenbard West, a ranked team who leads the West Suburban Silver. The environment will likely be hostile on the road, and it must find a way to contain Justin Pierce, who is closing in on the school’s all-time scoring record.
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