A busy few days ahead of us in high school basketball. Lets get right to this weekend’s forecast.
Thursday, Dec. 12
■ Bogan at Morgan Park
Bogan leaves the comfort zone of its cozy home gym where it hung with Morgan Park the first time these two met before losing 69-61. The problem for Bogan is it has a couple of high-profile losses –– 86-56 to Simeon and 77-46 to Fenwick –– that stick out like a sore thumb. And here comes another high-profile game at Morgan Park.
While there are some question marks surrounding Morgan Park, the Ayo Dosunmu-led Mustangs have just two losses all season to a not-too-shabby pair in Simeon and Young. While the bigs –– Lenell Henry, Romelo Burrell and Tamell Pearson are coming along –– coach Nick Irvin is still in search of a second consistent scorer on the perimeter who can go get a basket.
Hoops Report pick: Morgan Park 71, Bogan 59
■ Stagg at Lincoln-Way East
There is life beyond Bolingbrook and Homewood-Flossmoor in the Southwest Suburban Blue, so these two teams will go at it in a meaningful game between two teams with double-digit win totals.
Stagg stumbled a bit over the holidays at the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament but held its own against Bolingbrook in defeat last week as senior John Contant was terrific. Lincoln-Way East, one of the most improved teams in the area from a year ago, is fresh off a loss to Sandburg.
Look for a tough, down-to-the-wire finish between these two teams who value possessions.
Hoops Report pick: Lincoln-Way East 48, Stagg 46
Friday, Jan. 13
■ Marian Catholic at Marist
Unbeaten Marist, led by big man Justin Brown and the backcourt of Maurice Commander and Morgan Taylor, can’t afford to look ahead to next week’s showdown with rival Brother Rice.
Even with all the departures, Marian Catholic still has talent. And the Spartans have won seven of their last eight games. Plus, everyone gets fired up to play an unbeaten team. Can Chase Adams and the Spartans hand Marist its first defeat of the season?
Hoops Report pick: Marist 51, Marian Catholic 43
■ Benet at St. Patrick
Another chance for St. Patrick to show it’s as good as the sparkling 14-2 record. Coach Mike Bailey’s boys have put points on the board –– the Shamrocks have scored 70-plus points in eight games this season –– and have done so in a balanced way. With Xavier Pinson, Alton Thompson and Laurence Merritt, St. Pat’s has overwhelmed several teams with its pace and athleticism.
Benet, led by star guard Jack Nolan, has gone toe-to-toe with some athletic heavyweights, including Simeon, so it should be able to handle the athleticism and scoring potential St. Pat’s brings to the table.
Somehow Benet finds a way to get this done in what should be a pretty tough atmosphere and against a fired up opponent.
Hoops Report pick: Benet 55, St. Patrick 51
■ Orr at North Lawndale
There is just a whole mess of overlooked in this one between two West Side foes in the Red.
Does anyone realize Orr has just one loss on the season and that it came to highly-ranked Young at the buzzer? Can anyone name a player on talented Orr other than Raekwon Drake?
Does anyone know how good North Lawndale’s Carlos Hines is or realize the numbers Martrell Barnes puts up?
Both teams are looking to stay within reach of Red-West leader Young as the loser will drop two games behind in the league race.
Hoops Report pick: North Lawndale 62, Orr 58
■ Crete-Monee at Bloom
Top spot in the Southland Conference is up for grabs with the winner in the driver’s seat going forward.
Crete is dangerous with Dwayne Rose, a Toledo recruit and an often overlooked player in the senior class, along with 6-3 junior Malik Hardmon and up-and-coming sophomore Marquis Kennedy.
Bloom is deep and can get production from any number of players from Jalen Lee to Tramail McCray to Javonte Slater. But 6-5 senior Austin Ritchie has raised his level of play. He had games of 22, 23 and 23 points at Pontiac over the holidays and poured in 23 in a recent win over Rich South.
Bloom is experienced and has really been tested and held its own, with its three losses coming to two teams (Simeon and twice to H-F) with a combined record of 24-2.
Hoops Report pick: Bloom 61, Crete-Monee 50
■ Homewood-Flossmoor at Bolingbook
A huge conference showdown between two teams that oddly played already in a big non-conference game. Bolingbrook handled H-F in the championship game of the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic late last month. In that game Bolingbrook was leading 56-34 after three quarters before H-F outscored the Raiders 28-11 in the final quarter.
H-F must find a way to neutralize 6-5 Nana Akenten and 6-5 Malik Binns as the Bolinbrook senior duo combined for 37 points and 21 rebounds in the first meeting. The good news is H-F has the size, length and athleticism to do so. But Bolingbrook lives another day as an unbeaten.
Hoops Report pick: Bolingbrook 62, H-F 56
Saturday, Dec. 14
■ Waukegan at St. Charles East
A bit of an underrated non-conference games between two teams with plenty of offensive punch. Waukegan is athletic and talented, led by the tandem of senior Carson Newsome and sophomore Bryant Brown. If St. Charles East, led by ultra-productive junior Justin Hardy, can handle Waukegan’s defensive quickness and pressure it could lead to some open looks along the three-point line, where the Saints can really hurt you.
Hoops Report pick: Waukegan 67, St. Charles East 64
■ Thornton vs. Curie at T.F. North
The Curie Condors are back to flying high after dismantling Kenwood on the road Tuesday night behind red-hot Elijah Joiner, who poured in 40 points in the lopsided win. But winning this game in a semi-road environment in the south suburbs won’t be easy.
Thornton, led by the scintillating Alonzo Verge and rising junior Orlando Allen, are in search of a signature win on the season. This would certainly be that win.
But Curie has a few more horses than Thornton, including a player in Joiner who matches the star power of Verge.
Hoops Report pick: Curie 70, Thornton 62
■ Wheaton-Warrenville South MLK Tournament
There are some enticing potential matchups throughout the day –– and into Monday when the semifinals and championship games take place –– in this midseason 16-team tournament.
If expected winners prevail in the opening round –– and teams aren’t too gassed –– the quarterfinals could be tasty. Benet vs. H-F, Wheaton South vs. Rockford Auburn, Oak Park vs. Notre Dame and Downers South vs. Bloomington is a nice smorgasbord of both ranked teams and some glitzy records.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport