Michael O’Brien’s notebook: Dec. 30, 2017

SHARE Michael O’Brien’s notebook: Dec. 30, 2017
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West Aurora’s Cam Donatlan (2) dribbles against Curie at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament, Friday 12-29-17. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

PONTIAC, IL — Some Morgan Park parents have reached out to me on Twitter, upset that I focused on the hijinks at last night’s Big Dipper semifinal instead of Kenyon Duling’s big performance.

Sorry, but that is what happens when there is so much extracurricular activity going on that the police get involved and the semifinal of a major holiday tournament is stopped before it is over.

I think sometimes there is a real misunderstanding about my actual job. I’m not a public relations machine for high school basketball players. I’m not here to pump up players and get them scholarships or provide publicity for teams and players.

I’m a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. My job is to keep readers informed about what happens on the area’s high school basketball scene. I report the news. The news of the day was that Morgan Park and Thornton couldn’t finish a high school basketball game because there was too much drama.

PONTIAC

Quarterfinals

Curie 63, West Aurora 54

Oak Park 61, Bloomington 60

Danville 52, Benet 38: The Vikings are really, really good. We already knew this, but it was interesting to see them dominate a team that over the years has tended to give some powerhouse teams a lot of trouble. Yeah, this Benet version might not be quite as good, but you never know when they could pull of an upset. Kendle Moore scored 16 and Caleb Griffin added 14. David Buh led Benet with 15 points, he’s had a nice tournament.

Simeon 61, St. Charles North 36: I thought this one might stay close for a half or even three quarters. I was very wrong. Joe Henricksen tweeted something early in the game about Simeon’s professionalism. That’s a good way to put it. The Wolverines came out and just never allowed the North Stars to get any footing. I’m still high on St. Charles North’s potential in the long run though. Talen Horton-Tucker had 24 points, six rebounds and four assists. Zion Young scored nine. Kyle King led St. Charles North with 10 points.

BLOOMINGTON

Normal 36, Wheaton-Warrenville South 35: I don’t know anything about Normal (well, I know they knocked off Simeon a couple years ago in a very awesome supersectional game), but the score is interesting. This game was clearly played at WW South’s tempo, but Normal won. CJ Christian scored 15.

North Lawndale 59, Joliet Central 54: My body was in Pontiac, but my heart was in Bloomington with the Steelmen. Rough loss. Larry Thompson and the guys kinda stopped Phoenix junior Demetrius Douglas. He only had 12 points, which might be his season low. But it didn’t matter, North Lawndale found a way to win and will play for the title tomorrow.

CENTRALIA

Quarterfinals

Alton 64, Carmel 61

Belleville West 65, Confluence 63: Probably time to mention EJ Liddell in the notebook. He’s the best player in the state’s junior class, scored 26 points.

Champaign Central 61, Evanston 47: Regular commenters will know that there was a thread a week ago in which I was trying to convince a reader that Champaign Central was a good, not average team. Here you go.

Marist 44, Centralia 38: The RedHawks are just getting it done this season. Still unbeaten, they knock of the tournament hosts. Morgan Taylor had 19 points, is it time to put him in the POY race?

HINSDALE CENTRAL

Semifinals

St. Rita 56, DePaul Prep 37: Just two weeks ago St. Rita was reeling, losing every game it played. Well look at the Mustangs now. They will play for a title tomorrow. This is the kinda result that just tears the rankings apart. Javon Cooley scored 15 and Jordan Matthews had 12. Give St. Rita a lot of credit for itsrun this week, a lot of teams would have folded after that rough stretch.

Bolingbrook 59, Lincoln Park 56: The Cinderella run of Lincoln Park (which actually started with that win against Young even before the tournament) is over. The Raiders get the job done. Kaleb Thornton scored 16 points, this is possibly the first time he’s led them in scoring this season. Joseph Yesufu added 13. Chris Roberts had 22 for the Lions, he is really in form right now.

PROVISO WEST

Semifinals

Young 54,Hillcrest52: The Dolphins have done the expected and advanced to the title game. Keenan Jones scored 14 points. He was a player I didn’t know much about before the season, but has definitely opened some eyes this season. He’s one of those guys that does a lot of the dirty work that winning teams need. Javon Freeman and Xavier Castaneda each scored 13. Hillcrest deserves a mention here too. What a great tournament for the Hawks. Jeremiah Staten led them with 17 points, they are clearly a major threat to Morgan Park for the Class 3A state title.

Orr 92, Uplift 38: Utter domination, yikes. Raekwon Drake had 24 point and 10 rebounds. Chase Adams scored 17 and dished out eight assists. Young-Orr is a great rivalry, the title game will be fun.

RICH SOUTH

Championship

Morgan Park 82, Leo 71: The Mustangs win the title. Ayo Dosunmu did not play. Marcus Watson scored 24, that could be a career high for the promising sophomore. Huge game for Cam Burrell with 23 points and 17 rebounds. You could make a case that Burrell is the most improved player in the area other than Ryan Davis. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Burrell’s recruitment, I have to imagine he’s going to draw major interest. Adam Miller added 23 points and eight boards.

Major props to Leo. They were basically an afterthought for everyone heading into the tournament. We’ve all noticed you guys now. Fred Cleveland scored 2o points.

WHEELING

Semifinals

Niles North 66,Prospect 61: This score says a lot about Prospect. The Knights played one of the state’s top teams really closely. Niles North had four players in double figures, Jamal Stephenson had 21 in his first game of the season. Damaria Franklin scored 15, Dravon Clayborn 14 and Aquan Smart 12. Prospect was led by David Swedura with 28 points including six three-pointers.

Libertyville 61, Waukegan 55:Drew Petersonscores 25 to get the Wildcats into the title game.

YORK

Semifinals

Conant 62, Wheaton North 53: Ryan Davis with 23, seven rebounds and seven assists. He’s a force of nature. Great week from Wheaton North though, they really got themselves on the radar.

Brother Rice 61, Batavia 40: Surprised by the score here, but I have a feeling Batavia is just getting started this season. Winning a state football title is pretty exhausting. Marquise Kennedy scored 20 and and Josh Boulanger added 16 points and seven rebounds. This winds up being a pretty intriguing title matchup, I feel like there aren’t a ton of Catholic League-MSL showdowns generally.

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