Time to thaw out from the winter freeze and get back at it.
Although it’s a bit of a slow weekend overall, there remain some enticing matchups this weekend as several teams have an opportunity to prove their worth.
• Leo (16-6) at Mount Carmel (16-6)
After dropping three of five, Leo has beaten up on three straight overmatched opponents to get back on track. Leo continues to rely on the combination of guard Fred Cleveland and big man DaChaun Anderson.
Mount Carmel, meanwhile, has won four straight, including a win over St. Mel. The Caravan’s streak comes as Josh Redic is red-hot. The 6-3 senior is averaging 26.7 points a game over those four wins.
Both teams want to keep moving in the right direction and a win here would help.
Hoops Report pick: Mount Carmel 61, Leo 58
• Glenbrook South (17-6) at New Trier (20-3)
Tied for the top spot in the Central Suburban League South, New Trier needs a win to keep pace with rival Evanston atop the league standings. The Trevians have lost to just two teams since November –– No. 1 Curie and No. 6 Evanston –– but haven’t been talked about a whole lot.
Despite Glenbrook South’s 3-4 league record, this is a dangerous team with senior point guard Will King and high-scoring junior Dom Martinelli.
New Trier knocked off Glenbrook South 47-42 in December and gets the regular-season sweep.
Hoops Report pick: New Trier 48, Glenbrook South 44
• Simeon (13-12) vs. Belleville West (21-1) at O’Fallon
The O’Fallon Shootout is one of the top events in Illinois each year and brings the state’s most elite program together with the defending state champs.
A huge test for a Simeon team no one can quite figure out –– at least not yet. The Wolverines are finally getting healthy and have all their pieces together. They are also fresh off an impressive win this past weekend over Bolingbrook.
Senior Antonio Reeves, who has been averaging over 20 points a game, will need continued help from the talented young stars in the program –– sophomore Ahamad Bynum and freshmen Jaylen Drane and A.J. Casey.
But this is Belleville West and E.J. Liddell, the defending state champs and state’s best player Simeon is facing. Plus, the Wolverines will be facing them in their back yard. Liddell, an Ohio State recruit ranked among the top 50 players in the country, is a matchup nightmare for everyone, and senior guard Lawrence Brazil is an underrated factor in this team’s success.
Hoops Report pick: Belleville West 68, Simeon 57
• Evanston (21-4) at Oak Park (13-7)
A fun non-conference showdown as Oak Park gets a top 10 team on its home floor. The Huskies, who have battled inconsistency and key personnel in and out of the lineup, have won five of their last six.
Evanston and its potent perimeter attack featuring Lance Jones and Blake Peters continues its grueling schedule but gets the road win.
Hoops Report pick: Evanston 66, Oak Park 59
• Geneva (21-1) vs. Aurora Christian (20-4) at East Aurora
Aside from a hiccup in losing to Lake Park, Geneva has been on cruise control for two-plus months behind the 1-2 punch of point guard Jack McDonald and shooter Mitch Mascari. Unheralded Kross Garth has provided plenty in helping the Vikings to this terrific start.
Aurora Christian is a dangerous Class 2A team that will get the late-season measuring stick it needs in this matchup. Will Wolfe, a multi-faceted 6-6 junior, is the headliner. But together with junior guard Taaj Davis and sophomore guard Jaehshon Thomas, the Eagles have a nice trio to put a scare into No. 13 Geneva.
Hoops Report pick: Geneva 62, Aurora Christian 56
• York (21-3) vs. Oswego East (17-5) at East Aurora
These two have had rock solid seasons but have reversed rolls since Oswego East was a preseason top 25 team and York was on the outside looking in of the top 25 back in November. Now York is a 21-win team and ranked No. 15 in the Super 25.
York has kept seven of its last eight opponents under 40 points. Meanwhile, Oswego East has averaged 74 points a game in its last eight games. Something will have to give.
The focus will be on the guard play and what the York defense can do to slow down Oswego East star guard Ray J Dennis, who is one of the top offensive weapons in the state.
York has quality guard play and balance. Seniors Nick Kosich, Erik Cohn and Sam Walsh, along with junior Nate Shockey, are all double-figure scorers.
Hoops Report pick: York 58, Oswego East 55