Dazzling sophomore Robbie Avila leads Oak Forest to Maine East Holiday tournament title

Oak Forest’s Robbie Avila plays beautiful basketball. The 6-8 sophomore’s game has evolved tremendously this season. He’s no longer just a post presence, he’s a dominant all around player—one of the best in the state.

SHARE Dazzling sophomore Robbie Avila leads Oak Forest to Maine East Holiday tournament title
Oak Forest celebrates after winning the Maine East Holiday Tournament championship game against Crane.

Oak Forest celebrates after winning the Maine East Holiday Tournament championship game against Crane.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Oak Forest’s Robbie Avila plays beautiful basketball.

The 6-8 sophomore’s game has evolved tremendously this season. He’s no longer just a post presence, he’s a dominant all around player—one of the best in the state.

Avila has a soft touch on his shot, terrific passing instincts and a feel for the game that is impossible to teach.

It was all on display in the Bengals’ 81-58 win against Crane in the championship game of the Maine East Holiday Tournament on Monday in Park Ridge.

“I’m not trying to oversell him but he’s as good as any sophomore I’ve seen as a high school player,” Oak Forest coach Matt Manzke said. “I get where other kids might have a higher ceiling. But as a high school player I would take him right now over anybody. Especially the way we play.”

Avila finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and three steals. He shot 9-for-10 from the field.

“He’s so underrated,” Manzke said. “He does everything. We put him at as the point, he passes, he rebounds, he defends. He is the real thing, the total package.”

Avila’s smooth, unselfish game fits in perfectly with his team. That’s likely because his older brother Juan, a senior, sets the tone. He had 18 points and six assists.

“It starts with Juan,” Manzke said. “He could score way more but he gives it up for [Jayson Kent] and Robbie. No one can be selfish or it would stick out.”

Kent, who has offers from Northern Illinois and IUPUI, added 26 points and seven rebounds for Oak Forest (12-1).He won the tournament MVP award.

“[Winning the title] meant a lot to us,” Kent said. “Last year we came in second and it left a bad taste in our mouth. This year we came in with a chip on our shoulder to win the championship.”

The Bengals jumped out to a 23-12 advantage. Crane (12-2) cut the lead to two on a three-pointer from Robert Hobbs with 5:29 left in the second quarter. The Bengals responded with a 10-0 run and never looked back.

Hobbs led the Cougars, who beat Orr last week, with 18 points and nine rebounds. Jimarius Sneed added 10 points and 12 rebounds.

“We just didn’t play our style of basketball,” Crane coach Alonzo Crowder said. “We are a much better team than that. We didn’t pay attention to the details. We were prepared and we knew what they were going to run, we just didn’t follow the game plan. It was out of character.”

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