A busy and big weekend ahead, highlighted by the Team Rose Shootout on Saturday and Sunday, is expected to include a whole lot of tight, down-to-the-wire games.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report’s Weekend Forecast previews it all, along with a round of picks in what is shaping up to be a season of true parity.
Friday, Dec. 8
■ Evanston at Maine South
Evanston, a young team led by junior guard Lance Jones, is looking to repeat in the Central Suburban League South. A road win here would go a long way in keeping the Wildkits in position to do so.
With Maine South having lost its league opener to New Trier, this becomes an early must-win situation for the Hawks to avoid falling to 0-2 in the CSL South. At home, the Hawks handle Evanston’s quickness, use their size, featuring 6-7 Grant Miller and 6-7 Tommy Gardiner, along with their frustrating-to-play-against style, and get it done in a close one.
Hoops Report pick: Maine South 44, Evanston 42
■ St. Viator at Marian Catholic
It’s way too early to call this the “Game of the Year” in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. However, when we look back at the season that was in late February, this very well could be the game that decided the league title. Plenty of young talent featured in this one as these two teams will have some staying power in the ESCC over the next couple of years.
Hoops Report pick: Marian Catholic 57, St. Viator 53
■ Marist at Carmel
A tough road game for Marist to kick off East Suburban Catholic Conference play. When the season began, Marist, led by senior Morgan Taylor, was talked about as one of the favorites in the ESCC. Now Carmel has entered the the discussion after its fast 5-1 start, which includes a win over Waukegan.
Carmel has been fueled by sophomore Johnny Roeser, freshman Kimahri Wilson and junior Damone Williams-Gray, so the future is bright. But the timetable could be pushed up.
Hoops Report pick: Marist 48, Carmel 45
■ Bloom at Rich East
On the grand scheme of things, no one is quite sure what to make of these two teams at this juncture of the season. Rich East’s scores have been eye-opening, while everyone is aware that a young, talented Bloom team will only be getting better.
But this much we do know: Both teams will be in the hunt for a Southland Conference title which makes this early-season tilt a big one.
You get the feeling Rich East, on its home floor, has something to prove. Keep an eye on the individual matchup between two young talented guards: Rich East junior Ramone Woods and Bloom sophomore Keshawn Williams.
Hoops Report pick: Rich East 82, Bloom 77
■ Homewood-Flossmoor at Lincoln-Way East
People may have written off H-F when coach Marc Condotti’s team graduated the bulk of its team last year, but the Vikings have a burgeoning 1-2 punch in 6-3 junior Maurion Scott and 6-4 junior Isaac Stanback. Lincoln-Way East, led by SIU recruit Sam Shafer and a veteran perimeter attack, is looking to bounce back from a loss to Bloom.
Hoops Report pick: Lincoln-Way East 67, Homewood-Flossmoor 61
Saturday, Dec, 9
■ York at West Aurora
A non-conference tilt that will tell us a lot more about this perimeter-oriented York team. Can the Dukes go on the road and knock off a West Aurora team led by super athlete Camron Donatlan?
Hoops Report pick: West Aurora 52, York 46
Team Rose Shootout at Mount Carmel
■ Farragut vs. Joliet West @ 12:15 p.m.
■ Uplift vs. Evanston @ 1:30 p.m.
The first big stage for Uplift star Markese Jacobs, the Kansas recruit who is among the top players in the state. Keep an eye on how Evanston bounces back after facing league rival Maine South Friday night. That’s a quick and tough turnaround for the Wildkits.
Hoops Report pick: Evanston 60, Uplift 57
■ Kenwood vs. Brother Rice @ 3:00 p.m.
Kenwood and Brother Rice are looking to gain some new-found respect after suffering heavy graduation losses from last year’s talented teams. Kenwood is led by the trio of junior point guard Artese Stapleton and the senior duo of athletic 6-6 Nas Turner and 6-5 wing R.J. McGee. Keep an eye on Rice’s Marquise Kennedy, who has emerged as a Hoops Report favorite in the junior class. We’re thinking a mild upset here.
Hoops Report pick: Brother Rice 60, Kenwood 58
■ Hillcrest vs. Romeoville @ 4:30 p.m.
How about the start coach Don Houston’s team has gotten off to? The Hawks, led by senior Bobby Harvey, were a forgotten team when the season began. Now Hillcrest is 7-1 with an opportunity to gain momentum against an upstart, unbeaten and ranked Romeoville.
Hoops Report pick: Romeoville 58, Hillcrest 53
■ Von Steuben vs. Mt. Carmel @ 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 10
Team Rose Shootout at Mount Carmel
■ Payton vs. Crete-Monee @ 11:00 a.m.
■ Hope Academy vs. Providence St. Mel @ 12:15 p.m.
■ Longwood vs. Westinghouse @ 1:30 p.m.
■ Orr vs. Danville @ 3:00 p.m.
The game of the weekend as two state powers from different geographical areas meet. Danville and Drake-bound guard Kendle Moore are legit Peoria hopefuls and would love to get a headline win over a Public League power and the defending Class 2A state champs. This should be a fun one.
Hoops Report pick: Orr 73, Danville 70
■ Curie vs. St. Rita @ 4:30 p.m.
Curie made a statement last week with a win over Orr. Now St. Rita is hoping for a statement game of its own in this Public League-Catholic League battle.
Hoops Report pick: Curie 61, St. Rita 54