This week’s Three-Pointer includes Marian Catholic rolling with the punches as it relates to player departures, St. Laurence’s stellar start and the sad passing of a former Illinois prep star.
Marian Catholic lost its leading scorer just weeks before the start of the season. The departure stung but the timing made it a bigger cause for concern.
However, the Spartans haven’t missed a beat offensively and are a different and better team defensively since the 5-9 Malik Tidwell decided to transfer to a prep school in October.
“The growth of our younger kids has been very promising, and I’m not sure it would have been as fast,” says Marian Catholic coach Mike Taylor of the added minutes and opportunities for players as a result of Tidwell leaving.
Junior guard Aaron Ulis (19 ppg) is still the catalyst for the Spartans while 6-6 senior Chris White is averaging 11 points a game.
But a trio of juniors –– 6-0 guard Joe Green (15 ppg), 6-5 Elijah Jones (8 ppg) and 6-2 Yemi Elitulo (9 ppg) –– have stepped up in a big way and have played better than anticipated in the early going.
Taylor had a blueprint of what he planned to do defensively heading into the season. But Tidwell’s last-minute departure allowed him to change things up and utilize the length his team has to his advantage.
The No. 12 Spartans (5-1), whose only loss came to H-F without Ulis playing, will get a big test this weekend when it faces No. 14 Waukegan.
St. Laurence started last season 8-1. The Vikings are 8-1 once again.
But this year’s start feels different after a week in which the Vikings knocked off St. Rita, St. Mel and Notre Dame.
Coach Jim Sexton’s team returned budding junior star Jeremiah Williams and steady senior Lance Jackson from last season’s 20-win, regional championship team. Plus, the Vikings went a combined 43-4 at the freshman and sophomore levels last year, so the expectations have risen.
A couple of junior guards, Trey Davis and Finn Walsh, have provided added offensive punch in St. Laurence’s quick-tempo offense.
While it won’t be known how soon he will be eligible to play, sophomore guard Boopie Miller has officially enrolled at St. Laurence after leaving Morgan Park last week.
With three winnable games ahead, St. Laurence could head into the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament at York with a sparkling 11-1 record.
Can this be a team that can put a legitimate scare into Morgan Park and Bogan in a Class 3A sectional this March? The Vikings lost to eventual state champ Morgan Park in the sectional semifinals last year.
Eric Anderson, one of the all-time great high school basketball players in state history, passed away suddenly over the weekend. Anderson was just 48 years old.
Anderson led St. Francis De Sales to a 29-2 record and second-place finish in Class AA in 1988. It was the lone trip to state in DeSales basketball history.
De Sales beat St. Joseph, Simeon and Rock Island to reach the state title game, which set up an iconic state championship game matchup of McDonald’s All-American big men in the 6-9 Anderson and 6-9 LaPhonso Ellis of East St. Louis Lincoln. Anderson went for 23 points and 17 rebounds while Ellis finished with 26 points and 15 rebounds as De Sales fell 60-52.
In the four state tournament games Anderson led the tournament in scoring and averaged 26.7 points and 14 rebounds a game.
Already a legend in grammar school as a 6-5 eighth-grader, Anderson was coveted by high school coaches, ultimately choosing De Sales over Mount Carmel, Marist and Bishop Noll in Hammond, Ind.
Anderson was also a standout at Indiana, where he led the Hoosiers to the 1992 Final Four and finished his career at IU with 1,715 points and 825 rebounds.