Weekend Forecast: Public League semis, crucial conference rematches

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Wednesday 02-13-19. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times

It is rematch time. There are several big conference matchups going down for a second time on Friday.

Public League semifinals

■ Curie (27-1) vs. Orr (19-10)

The Condors beat Orr 62-53 in November, but the Spartans have made several significant additions since then. Transfers have been cleared to play and injured players have recovered.

Curie has been on cruise control nearly all season, dominating city and state foes. The Condors haven’t lost to an in-state team this season. The stakes are raised, however, in the city semifinals.

Orr pulled off a minor surprise by beating Bogan in the quarterfinals. But the defending Class 2A champs may just be rounding into form as all the pieces come together, including transfer guard Sherif Kenney. The big-bodied guard was instrumental in leading Orr to the win over Bogan.

These are two tough, gritty teams ready to go at it in what should be a good one.

Hoops Report pick: Curie 67, Orr 61

■ Morgan Park (25-3) vs. Simeon (16-13)

There is just so much to be concerned with when it comes to Morgan Park. The Mustangs boast star junior Adam Miller and a supporting cast that includes junior guard Marcus Watson, senior wing Deshawndre Washington and senior guard Chris Roberts, who scored 22 points in the win over Lincoln Park.

Simeon has picked up the pieces after an up and down regular season. Sophomore Ahamad Bynum, who missed 15 games with an ankle injury, is back and providing the Wolverines with another dependable scoring option to add to seniors Antonio Reeves and Kejuan Clements.

The Mustangs won at Simeon 70-52 on Jan. 24 and should be able to pull it out again.

Pick: Morgan Park 70, Simeon 66

■ Evanston (24-4) at New Trier (22-4)

This one will be interesting. We will learn a lot about a ranked but new-look New Trier team, one without Sam Silverstein, who was lost for the season with an injury. The Trevians were already lacking a bit in the guard department, so how they manage this game with Evanston could be a telltale sign of what’s to come when state tournament play kicks up in two weeks.

Pick: Evanston 63, New Trier 50

■ Marian Catholic (24-3) at St. Viator (20-5)

This could decide the East Suburban Catholic Conference championship.

Star guard Trey Calvin has returned from injury for St. Viator. He’s still getting his basketball legs back underneath him, but this is a better team today than it was without him.

St. Viator’s Jeremiah Hernandez and Marian Catholic’s Ahron Ulis have been the conference’s two best players.

Pick: Marian Catholic 62, St. Viator 60

■ Fremd (18-4) at Schaumburg (20-5)

These two are tied for the top spot in the MSL East.

Schaumburg held Fremd to just 36 points in the first meeting. The Vikings shot a paltry 33 percent from the field, including 1 of 13 from beyond the arc, in the 14-point win.

Schaumburg, led by the trio of 6-8 sophomore Chris Hodges and seniors Michael Hodges and Heze Trotter, has turned up its defense in the second half of the season.

Pick: Schaumburg 50, Fremd 47

■ Homewood-Flossmoor (18-5) at Bolingbrook (17-6)

The first matchup between these two did not live up to the hype. Bolingbrook went on the road and blew out H-F team by 23 points.

Junior guard Darius Burford set the tone early with a first half offensive explosion. Can H-F slow down the tempo, decrease transition opportunities and use its size and length to make it more difficult for Bolingbrook in the halfcourt?

Bolingbrook is at home and has too much perimeter firepower in Burford, Joseph Yesufu and Tyler Cochran.

Pick: Bolingbrook 68, Homewood-Flossmoor 61

■ Aurora Christian (22-6) at Riverside-Brookfield (22-4)

Regional play begins next week for Aurora Christian as it begins its Class 2A quest. But in what is a perfect tune-up for state tournament play, Aurora Christian goes on the road in an attempt to grab a share of a Metro Suburban Blue title.

Riverside-Brookfield has a one-game advantage on Aurora Christian, the only team to hand R-B a conference defeat. That game went to overtime a month ago. Aurora Christian 6-6 junior Will Wolfe was terrific in the first meeting, and he will have to be again if the Eagles want a season sweep.

This is a senior-dominated R-B team with balance, led by 6-6 Andrew Veon and point guard Zach Vaia. That will be enough in this rematch at home.

Hoops Report pick: Riverside-Brookfield 68, Aurora Christian 58

■ Oak Forest (20-4) at Hillcrest (16-8)

While it’s true Oak Forest has put together an outstanding regular season, this is the game that’s been circled on the schedule. Hillcrest is in control of the South Suburban Blue with a two-game lead over Oak Forest.

But more than anything this is a true measuring stick for this Oak Forest team that’s still trying to gain some respect outside of league play. And this is the time to get Hillcrest, a team that is relatively young and relying heavily on sophomores.

Ethan Balinao hasn’t received a whole lot of attention, but the 6-2 senior guard does so much for Oak Forest. Junior Jayson Kent has evolved into a diversified scoring option as a 6-4 wing with versatility, while junior Juan Avila and 6-5 freshman Robbie Avila continue to make their own impact.

Sophomore guards Mar’Keise Irving, Julius Rollins and Kenton Wright are getting better and better. But 6-6 senior big man Dylan West has been a constant for the Hawks all season and poses a matchup problem for the Bengals.

Hoops Report pick: Hillcrest 64, Oak Forest 56

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