It’s been a few months since Curie won the Class 4A state championship, but the scope of the accomplishment didn’t really hit Elijah Joiner until recently.
“We just got our state championship rings,” Joiner, a rising senior, said. “It was incredible. Once you get that ring it really makes it feel official, makes it feel real.”
The Condors return four starters from that team: Joiner, Terry Smith Jr., Allante Pickens and Traevon Martin. Their state championship swagger was on full display in wins over DeKalb and West Aurora on Saturday at the Riverside-Brookfield Summer Shootout.
“Things are different now, we have a target on our backs,” Joiner said. “We have to maintain a high level of intensity in every game. If we can do that I think we have a good chance to repeat.”
Martin’s brother, 6-7 Tyreese Martin, has replaced graduated guard Devin Gage in the starting lineup. It gives the Condors a much different look from last season with three bigs instead of three guards.
THE NEXT ULIS
Tyler Ulis’ younger brother Ahron, a rising freshman at Marian Catholic, made his local debut. There is no guarantee he will make the varsity squad this season, but he has the support of point guard Chase Adams.
“[Ahron Ulis] should definitely play varsity with us,” Adams said. “He’s super smart, just like his brother.”
It’s been an interesting spring for Marian Catholic. Two key players, Steven Ross and T.J. Smith, transferred. Smith is headed out of state and Ross is at North Lawndale.
“We are definitely going to miss them,” Adams said. “We’d really bonded as a team. I think with us having so much experience we can still get to where we want, which is state.”
The Spartans were extremely impressive in March, nearly beating Simeon in the sectionals. It gave Mike Taylor’s young team a taste of what was possible.
“That put a chip on our shoulder,” Adams said. “Everyone thought the suburban team was the weaker link. We came out and gave them our best punch. We should have won that game. I think it made people respect us.”
The Spartans beat Hinsdale Central and Downers Grove North and lost to Jacobs on Saturday.
There were two monster individual performances on Saturday. Morgan Park rising junior Ayo Dosunmu scored 35 points in a win over Morton. That’s the sixth highest point total in the 19-year history of the event.
Dosunmu, a 6-3 point guard, was the area’s breakout player over the spring. He picked up offers from several high-major colleges and is poised to become the city’s next star.
Hillcrest’s Marcus Garrett scored 31 in a win over Downers Grove South. Garrett was one of the area’s top players last season, but went a bit under appreciated since the Hawks never pulled off a major win.
Jamal Nixon, Fenwick: 6-4 rising senior was a force in the second half against Joliet West. He played with intensity and poise.
Lance Mosley, DePaul Prep: Start the freshman hype machine up. Mosley has skills and swagger. He was able to get to the rim, showcased a nice three-point shot and a fine overall floor game.
Semaj Henderson, Downers Grove North: The 5-11 rising sophomore is strong, athletic and confident. He helped the Trojans give Marian Catholic all it could handle.
Nimari Burnett, Morgan Park: The area’s most hyped freshman scored seven consecutive points against Oak Park-River Forest.
Jason Towers, St. Joseph: He’s shown flashes his entire career, but looks to be a more consistent force and could be a breakout star as a senior next season.