This ongoing series will provide a recap of the season for each of the top conferences in the Chicago area, continuing with the Mid-Suburban League and North Suburban Conference.
◼︎ Mid-Suburban League East
Preseason favorite: It was expected to be a take-your-pick type of a year when the season tipped off in November.
Conference champ: Prospect
Signature moment: Aside from a couple of slight regional upset wins –– Hersey knocking off Libertyville and Wheeling upsetting Zion-Benton –– there was little to cheer about in March for the MSL East. Thus, any time Max Christie stepped on the floor in a conference or non-conference game, there was always a chance for a signature moment. He often provided just that.
Biggest surprise: While it was an up-for-grabs year in the MSL East, Prospect rolling to a league title with just one loss was a surprise, especially considering it had just one key player returning in Jon Kreidler. It’s a program that’s become accustomed to winning league championships –– the Knights have now won three straight –– yet winning the league by two games was not expected.
Featured attraction: You don’t get a much bigger star in a league than Max Christie of Rolling Meadows. The super sophomore continues to live up to the hype. The smooth 6-6 point guard averaged 26 points and 10 rebounds a game. Throw in a 51-point game and a triple-double and the MSL East is going to have a lot of fun watching Christie over the next two seasons.
Breakout star: Buffalo Grove’s Kam Craft was one of the state’s most productive freshmen. The long, lanky and skilled Craft took the league by storm, including a 30-point outing in his very first varsity game. The 6-3 guard buried 65 three-pointers en route to averaging 20 points and seven rebounds a game in one of the most productive freshman seasons in the state.
◼︎ Mid-Suburban League West
Preseason favorite: Fremd
Conference champ: Fremd
Signature moment: In the regional finals, both Fremd and Schaumburg proved the MSL West’s worth with regional championship wins over Barrington and New Trier, respectively.
Biggest surprise: There were definitely some expectations surrounding Schaumburg when the season began. But the Saxons went to another level with their defense, overall play and results. Coach Wade Heisler’s team fell just short of a league title while winning 23 games overall and a regional title as a No. 7 seed in a rugged sectional.
Featured attraction: Schaumburg’s three-headed monster of seniors Michael Hodges and Heze Trotter and sophomore Chris Hodges really became a thing as the season progressed.
Both Michael Hodges and Trotter scored over 1,000 career points and averaged 16.2 points and 12.3 points a game, respectively, while Chris Hodges blossomed as a sophomore and averaged 16 points and 6.2 rebounds a game.
Breakout star: Palatine big man Julian Campbell impressed with his numbers as the 6-6 sophomore averaged 18.4 points and eight rebounds a game.
◼︎ North Suburban Conference
Preseason favorite: Waukegan
Conference champ: Waukegan and Stevenson
Signature moment: You won’t top the league’s two best teams meeting in a sectional championship game in the Dog Pound at Waukegan. Stevenson prevailed, surprisingly rather easily, in a 56-41win to advance to the super-sectional.
Biggest surprise: You expect Stevenson, a perennial league power, to be near the top of the standings every year. But the junior-dominated group not only grabbed a piece of the league but jumped into the rankings and won 27 games. That was not expected. The Patriots, led by a solid group of juniors, were one of the bigger surprises in the state this past season.
Featured attraction: The four-year career Bryant Brown put together at Waukegan was ultra-productive.
The workmanlike approach of the 6-5 senior included becoming Waukegan’s all-time leading scorer with a whopping 2,000-plus points. He pumped in 40 points this season against Libertyville and averaged 20.7 points and 7.2 rebounds on the year. Plus, he helped Waukegan to 28 wins and a sectional final appearance.
Breakout star: There is some quality young talent at Mundelein, and the improvement and impact of Scottie Ebube stood out. The 6-8 sophomore averaged 17.1 points and 10.4 rebounds a game in helping Mundelein to 20 wins on the season.