The first week of the high school basketball season is in the books. Here are some leftovers from Thanksgiving tournament action.
▪︎ The bad news out of Bolingbrook is star guard and NIU recruit Tyler Cochran is out with a finger injury he suffered the day before the first game of the season.
The good news is the Raiders came out of Thanksgiving week unbeaten, winning the Team Soy Capital Decatur Turkey Tournament championship while scoring 90-plus points in all three wins.
Coach Rob Brost’s team stunned Class 3A power Springfield Southeast 90-88 in the championship game. Kameron Leonard’s buzzer-beating layup capped off a run in which the Raiders overcame a 15-point fourth quarter deficit.
Drake recruit Joseph Yesufu scored 32 in the title game. Anthony Thompson, a transfer from Montini, stepped up with 21 points in the championship, while junior Darius Burford averaged 17 points a game in the three wins.
Cochran, a versatile, do-it-all 6-3 guard is expected to be out three to four weeks.
▪︎ Southern Illinois recruit Lance Jones and sophomore shooter Blake Peters have received more fanfare, but Jaylin Gibson is arguably Evanston’s most important player.
The 6-4 sophomore shined in Evanston’s first big test of the season –– a 72-63 win over ranked St. Viator. But it’s more than the team-leading 17 points he scored that revealed his importance to the Wildkits. Rather, it’s his ability to to contribute across the board. Gibson rebounds and defends while his vision, passing and ability to facilitate have improved.
▪︎ While senior point guard Artese Stapleton makes Kenwood go, this year’s team looks positioned to reach a higher level if Seryee Lewis can make a significant jump.
The 6-8 big man is one of the top dozen prospects in the junior class, and he showed he may be ready to take a big step forward. Lewis had 18 points and six rebounds in a win over St. Rita and averaged 13.5 points a game in Kenwood’s 3-1 start.
▪︎ Myles Baker of Young will be one of the more attractive uncommitted seniors for college coaches this winter. The 6-2 senior jumped out of the gate with a bang, leading the Dolphins with 32 points in a season-opening win over Elkins (Texas). Baker also added five rebounds and five assists. The junior stars, DJ Steward and Tyler Beard, will get their share of headlines, but keep an eye on the impact Baker provides for the state’s top team.
▪︎ If the first week of the season is any indication, the excitement over coach Porter Moser’s recruiting class at Loyola is only going to rev up more as the season plays out. The tandem of Marquise Kennedy of Brother Rice and Tom Welch of Naperville North, who both signed with the Ramblers earlier this month, were brilliant in the first four games of the season.
Kennedy, a 6-1 point guard with speed and athleticism, averaged 27.5 points a game in helping the Crusaders to a 4-0 start. The versatile 6-8 Welch averaged a double-double for the Huskies, putting up 25.5 points and 10.3 rebounds a game.
▪︎ The scoring exploits of Johnsburg guard Zach Toussaint are worth watching. The 6-0 senior guard, who scored 52 points in a game last season, pumped in 51 in a season-opening loss to Wauconda. He also scored 39 last week in a win over Grayslake North.
Toussaint, who is committed to Division II West Texas A&M, broke the school scoring record and will likely surpass 1,600 career points in his next game. He’s averaging a whopping 33.7 points a game through four games this season.
▪︎ Providence St. Mel has established itself as the team to beat in Class 1A after what it did in Quincy last week, which included a win over the host school and beating ranked Waukegan. A huge test awaits St. Mel this week when it travels to face unbeaten and highly-ranked DePaul Prep Friday night.
▪︎ With Naperville Central’s surprising 0-4 start and a Welch-dependent Naperville North, Waubonsie Valley is the team to beat in the shrunken, five-team DuPage Valley Conference.
The Warriors, led by senior guard Eric Cannon, went 4-0 in the Batavia Thanksgiving Tournament. Cannon scored 21 points in the final and was named tournament MVP.
While Waubonsie didn’t exactly beat a murderers row, it did wallop all four opponents by an average victory margin of 32 points a game.
▪︎ From the something-you-don’t-see-every-day department: West Aurora shot an eye-opening 0-for-25 from the three-point line in its 63-51 loss to Oswego East.
▪︎ The likes of Kankakee, Richards, Downers Grove North, St. Laurence, Glenbrook South and Cary-Grove all unbeaten after Thanksgiving comes as no big surprise, even if those six teams were outside of the preseason top 25 when the season began. All six were ranked among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 80 teams and boasted a certain level of expectations heading into the season.
But the list of surprising unbeaten teams is lengthy.
Barrington, Wheaton South, Dundee-Crown, Addison Trail, Stagg, Mount Carmel, Lyons and Glenbard West all won Thanksgiving tournaments and head into this week with unblemished records.
Barrington graduated the bulk of its team from last year –– five of its top seven from a team that won 24 games and a regional title –– but have rolled early behind senior guards Jason Boock and Will Raider. And Wheaton South lost all five starters with only sixth-man Jeff Kratz and his four points a game returning. But coach Mike Healy’s team allowed just 32 points a game in four wins at the Fenton Thanksgiving Tournament.
Addison Trail won 11 games last year, including nine straight to close out the season. But a senior-dominated group has fueled the quick 4-0 start. Lyons won 11 games a year ago, Mount Carmel finished 6-18 and Stagg 10-17. Those three are a combined 10-0.
Glenbard West went 3-0 with star player and Southern Illinois recruit Evan Taylor missing a game and a half with an ankle injury.
▪︎ A big start for unheralded Burlington Central senior Patrick Mayfield, the lone returning starter from a team that won 28 games last season. The highly-versatile 6-3 wing and prime small college prospect is averaging 28.2 points a game through four games.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on twitter @joehoopsreport