In this week’s Three-Pointer the City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at how DePaul Prep is preparing for March a little differently than a year ago, Waubonsie Valley’s quick march to 20 wins and how Peoria might stack up two months from now.
Losing five of seven games in the middle of the season, including a three-game losing streak, wasn’t part of the 2018-2019 season plan for DePaul Prep coach Tom Kleinschmidt. But the schedule that has resulted in hitting a midseason bump certainly was.
After starting the season 11-1 the Rams have gone just 2-5 in their last seven games. All five of the losses have come to teams that are or have been ranked this season.
“With the schedule we are playing we will see everything by the time we get to March, so it won’t be the first time seeing something [in the postseason],” Kleinschmidt points out. “I’m not sure I could have said that last year with the schedule we faced.”
Kleinschmidt is correct in that his team will face a wide range of teams in preparation for what could be a memorable March for the Rams in Class 3A.
DePaul has faced a team with great size (New Trier), speed and quickness (Morgan Park) and length (Marian Catholic). The Rams have taken on teams with an individual star (Oswego East and Brother Rice), up-tempo teams (St. Laurence) and specific silts and systems (Loyola and Benet).
This weekend DePaul Prep will tackle difficult road environments and travel when it goes on the road to play at Quincy and Quincy Notre Dame.
“We should be 100 percent prepped and ready for March,” says Kleinschmidt.
There isn’t a team with more wins that’s been talked about less than Waubonsie Valley.
Coach Jason Mead’s Warriors sport a glitzy 18-2 record and are alone atop the DuPage Valley Conference.
The length and mismatches Waubonsie presents is the starting point, and the recipe for success continues with the tandem of senior guard Eric Cannon (12 ppg) and 6-5 junior Marcus Skeete (15 ppg).
Cannon and Skeete were two of four starters returning this season from a team that won 13 games a year ago.
Cannon, who just recently committed to Division III power Rochester, is averaging 12.2 points a game while knocking down 46 three-pointers. The versatile Skeete is a handful. He leads the team in scoring (15.4 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg) while posing a threat inside and on the perimeter (22 three-pointers).
Senior guard Derrien Porter, 6-3 junior Nikhil Khanna and 6-5 senior Caymen Woods are all averaging right around seven points a game.
“We have some really talented high school level pieces,” says Mead, who is in his third season at Waubonsie Valley. “When we play hard, when we’re focused and play together, we can be pretty good.”
When the Warriors aren’t locked in the results have shown, whether it be the 22-point loss to rival Neuqua Valley or squirming by a team they should have handled more easily. Those moments, however, have been far and few between –– as shown by the overall record –– but the schedule does get a little more challenging going forward. The Warriors have a key DuPage Valley Conference matchup with Naperville North this Friday and play highly-regarded Oswego East next month.
When Mead took over in 2016 the program was coming off a 5-22 season. That first year Mead’s team went just 8-19. Now the Warriors are on the threshold of its first 20-win season since the 2012-2013 season.
Mead said when he discussed his vision during the interview process he insisted that his goal was to give the players in the program “the best high school basketball experience as possible.”
“It’s been fun for these kids, and I’m happy to see them buy into something over these three years and see the rewards,” says Mead. “They’ve grown into what’s in the best interest of the team and program, and it’s fun to have them experience this success.”
The IHSA’s state basketball tournament brackets have been determined, thus it’s not too early to start envisioning what the matchups could look like in Peoria in two months.
If the top-ranked teams advance through state tournament play, the Class 4A field could include Evanston facing Geneva, Benet or Rockford East in one semifinal. Defending state champion Belleville West would face either Curie or Young in the other semifinal.
Although Bogan may very well have something to say about it in sectional play, Morgan Park could face Springfield Southeast in one Class 3A semifinal in a rematch of last year’s state championship game.
The other semifinal could include DePaul Prep facing the DeKalb Super-Sectional winner, a road to Peoria that’s as wide open as any. Peoria Notre Dame is the highest ranked team among a list that includes Peoria Richwoods, Rock Falls and Metamora.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport