Henricksen: The loaded ‘When Sides Collide’ Shootout and a gigantic Weekend Forecast

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DePaul Prep’s Perry Cowan (11) keeps his eyes on the defense verse Loyola Friday 01-12-18. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times

This is one gigantic Weekend Forecast.

The forecast for this weekend is pretty hot, highlighted by the When Sides Collide Shootout at Glenbard East on Saturday. We’ll start the Weekend Forecast there, where you’ll find a surplus of ranked teams, conference leaders, high-profile players and intriguing non-conference matchups.

When Sides Collide Shootout at Glenbard East • Saturday

DePaul Prep vs. Evanston at 1:00 p.m.

A whole bunch of young talent will be on display, including two Division I prospects in the junior class: Evanston’s Lance Jones and DePaul Prep’s Perry Cowan. Both have been productive and put together outstanding junior campaigns.

Can Evanston speed DePaul Prep up and force the tempo it wants to play? The Wildkits can score points, averaging 63 points a game this season and scoring 50-plus in every game this season but one. By contrast, grind-it-out DePaul Prep hasn’t score 50 points since mid-December –– 12 games ago.

A year ago Evanston came into this event with a 15-3 record. This year the Wildkits are 13-3. While the schedule hasn’t been quite as rugged as last year, it says a lot about a team that’s so young and returned just one starter.

Hoops Report pick: Evanston 52, DePaul Prep 46

Glenbard East vs. Downers Grove North at 2:30 p.m.

Both of these teams jumped out of the gate pretty quickly to start the season but have hit midseason road bumps. Now, both are looking for a pick-me-up and some second half steam.

Downers Grove North comes in with one of the better junior backcourts around in Semaj Henderson (19.1 ppg) and Eddie Boston (11 ppg). Glenbard East counters with sophomore Alijah Nelson (13 ppg) and a balanced attack. James Peterkin, Korvante Davis and Kenny Adams all average in double figures for the Rams.

Hoops Report pick: Downers Grove North 58, Glenbard East 52

Young vs. Bloomington at 4:00 p.m.

Both of these teams reached Peoria a year ago, where Young won a Class 4A championship and Bloomington finished third in Class 3A. Bloomington (13-5), led by the highly-athletic Chris Payton, makes the move to Class 4A this year.

A lack of size is always a concern for Young. Orr’s inside tandem of 6-5 Reakwon Drake and 6-5 Dannie Smith gave the Dolphins fit in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament final. Can Bloomington take advantage of the 6-6 Payton inside and on the glass?

Bloomington must find a way to handle Young’s speed and quickness on the perimeter. There is a surplus of weapons for the Dolphins, including Javon Freeman, Xavier Castaneda, Elliott Sieger, Justin Boyd and Myles Baker, who pumped in 22 points earlier this week in a win over Uplift.

These two have one common opponent: Vashon out of St. Louis. Young lost to Vashon 80-74 back in December while Bloomington fell to Vashon 91-88 last week.

This is a chance for Chicago area basketball fans and media to get a look at one of the top five junior prospects in Illinois. The 6-6 Payton, who has committed to Illinois State, is an exciting talent, an above-the-rim athlete with a college-ready body and production to go with it.

Hoops Report pick: Young 72, Bloomington 66

Morgan Park vs. Fenwick at 5:30 p.m.

The Fenwick-Morgan Park showdown involves two teams currently ranked in the top 10. But you can’t ignore the individual matchup in this one, where two of the top young talents in the state will be on the floor together.

Both Adam Miller of Morgan Park and D.J. Steward of Fenwick are nationally-ranked in the Class of 2020 and the consensus top two players in Illinois in the sophomore class. This is a battle within the war that adds to the entertainment value.

The news that star guard Ayo Dosunmu is being shelved for a couple of weeks as he nurses an ankle injury is a real bummer for everyone, but particularly for the Illinois recruit who has been hobbled with the injury since late December. Morgan Park still features enough firepower in super sophomore Adam Miller, Tennessee State recruit Kenyon Duling, bouncy unsigned senior Cam Burrell and sophomore Marcus Watson to put plenty of points on the board.

Fenwick has played anyone and everyone from the Chicago Public League. The Friars have beaten Bogan, Manley and Westinghouse but have lost to Young and Orr. Fenwick needs a momentum-building win. This is an opportunity to secure one.

Hoops Report pick: Fenwick 66, Morgan Park 62

Romeoville vs. West Aurora at 7:00 p.m.

Might this be a preview of a sectional matchup in March? Before we get to that point both teams could use a shot in the arm, which is what a win here would do –– beat a quality opponent on a big stage and ride out the second half of the season.

West Aurora’s most impressive wins on the season have come against St. Charles North and Jacobs, while falling short against heavyweights Naperville North, Curie and Bloomington. So this is a needed midseason measuring stick and would be the biggest win to date for the Blackhawks. Camron Donatlan, a 1,000-plus point scorer and stat-sheet stuffer, can at times be a difference-maker. Jared Crutcher is unsung and junior Traevon Brown’s offense is needed.

The catalyst for Romeoville has been the athletic combination of DeAndre Heckard and Eddie Creal. Dontia Johnson provides versatile size at 6-7. The Spartans are at their best in transition in the open floor and can flourish in transition.

Romeoville has a few more offensive weapons and picks up a nice non-conference win.

Hoops Report pick: Romeoville 65, West Aurora 60

Friday

Benet at Marist

Fresh off winning the Martin Luther King Tournament at Wheaton South, Benet now hopes to go in and pull off an East Suburban Catholic Conference upset on the road. It won’t be easy. Benet, led by senior David Buh and sophomore big man Colin Crothers, will have its hands full in trying to contain the red-hot Morgan Taylor.

Taylor, the ESCC’s best player, has put together a dominant season. The RedHawks have been on cruise control and are coming off an emotional win over rival Brother Rice on Tuesday. Taylor pumped in 25 in the win, but the long, athletic tandem of David Daniels and Jack Ellison continues to give opponents troubles.

Hoops Report pick: Marist 53, Benet 46

North Lawndale at Young

This may now be a “super conference” in the city but this is an old fashioned Red-West game here.

North Lawndale has been better than people expected, thanks to the emergence of junior guard Demetrius Douglas and the offensive punch senior David Forrest provides. However, coach Lewis Thorpe’s team is in the midst of its roughest stretch on the schedule, playing Orr tough in defeat earlier this week and now facing Young.

But Young, led by Valpo recruit Javon Freeman, simply has more weapons. Freeman has been such a valuable and consistent threat all season for the Dolphins.

Hoops Report pick: Young 71, North Lawndale 63

Highland Park at Maine West

After a rough start to the season in November, Highland Park has regrouped and gone 9-2 since. Coach Paul Harris has a savvy, productive veteran guard in Ziv Tal, one of the top players in the league. It’s a little too early for talk about wrapping up a conference title, but as a result of its 72-59 win over Maine West in early December, Highland Park is in position to take a two-game lead in the Central Suburban League North.

Maine West has a chance to muck things up in the CSL North with a win here. The Warriors have been playing well, winning nine of 11 games and beating talented St. Viator along the way. The diminutive backcourt of Julian Dones (13 ppg) and Darrington Bates is effective, while the tandem of 6-5 Jack Collins (14 ppg, 9 rpg) and Milos Dugalic (11 ppg) has been very productive. Maine West needs to take advantage of the size Collins and Dugalic bring to the mix as Highland Park is size-deprived.

This one will be tighter than the last meeting between these two. But Highland Park takes control of the CSL North with the win.

Hoops Report pick: Highland Park 63, Maine West 58

Homewood-Flossmoor at Bolingbrook

The top spot in the Southwest Suburban Blue is on the line as both teams are 3-0 in league play. Bolingbrook impressed earlier this week by beating up Morgan Park. The junior backcourt of Joseph Yesufu and Tyler Cochran headline this team. But 6-7 Joey Saracco has made a big difference for the Raiders.

The up and down first half of the season for H-F was to be expected with all the youth and inexperience. But the Vikings are a dangerous team. There is length, athleticism and emerging talent in 6-4 junior Maurion Scott, 6-4 junior Isaac Stanback and 6-4 sophomore R.J. Ogom. The play and decision-making of 6-2 senior guard Sean Jones will be a key to any upset hopes.

Hoops Report pick: Bolingbrook 62, Homewood-Flossmoor 54

Hinsdale South at Proviso East

Here’s the good news for coach Donnie Boyce and his Pirates: Quinlan Bennett is rounding into form. The talented 6-2 senior returned from injury in December and is getting better and more comfortable by the week. That’s bad news for the rest of the West Suburban Gold since the Pirates are already on top with a 4-0 record.

The supporting cast of 6-4 bruising athlete Jordan Morris and guards Trevor Moore, Jaelon Hood and Michael Osborne have taken turns providing offensive balance for the Pirates.

Hinsdale South and star Zion Griffin sit one game back of Proviso East. Griffin will have to play like the high-major talent that he is, but the supporting cast will have to, well, provide some support to go into Maywood and come out with a win.

Hoops Report pick: Proviso East 65, Hinsdale South 56

Batavia at St. Charles North

Can Larkin really go unbeaten in the tough and balanced Upstate Eight River? That’s going to be awfully tough, but the Royals are off to a quick 6-0 start. That’s why this Batavia-STC North game is pivotal.

Batavia has just one league loss. And it has yet to play Larkin as the two will tangle twice in February. But it must first survive this tough road date against a team that came into Batavia in December and beat the Bulldogs.

However, Batavia is progressively improved since the return of all their football-playing basketball players after capturing a state football championship Thanksgiving weekend. When this team is shooting it well and sharp in its halfcourt, the Bulldogs, with 6-4 Eric Peterson, 6-4 Kyle LeFevre, Riley Cooper and 6-4 sophomore Jayden Johnson, can look like a real offensive force.

St. Charles North’s Kyle King, a veteran 6-5 senior, is one of the more undervalued players in the area.

Hoops Report pick: Batavia 66, St. Charles North 63

Saturday

Naperville North at Wheaton South

There is some recent history here and it’s real. There are plenty of players on these two rosters who were part of the dramatic three-game mini-series a year ago.

Wheaton South won both regular-season matchups –– by a combined four points –– to win the DuPage Valley Conference last year. But Naperville North’s “Hack-A-Healy” philosophy in the sectional, where the Huskies repeatedly fouled any Tiger it could find from tip to finish to send Naperville North to the line, stunned coach Mike Healy’s Cinderella season, ending a magical ride and leaving a bad taste in Wheaton South’s mouth.

With a win, Naperville North can open up a two-game lead in the DVC. With the guard play of Jack Hill and the big man tandem of 6-7 Chris Johnson and 6-7 Tom Welch, the Huskies are able to grind out a big road win.

Hoops Report pick: Naperville North 44, Wheaton South 39

Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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