Bryce Hopkins, Fenwick best Rolling Meadows in showdown of state’s top juniors

Fenwick’s Bryce Hopkins blew through Rolling Meadows’ Max Christie and scored. Then minutes later Christie swatted away Hopkins’ shot at the rim.

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Fenwick’s Bryce Hopkins (23) moves the ball past Rolling Meadows’ Max Christie (12).

Fenwick’s Bryce Hopkins (23) moves the ball past Rolling Meadows’ Max Christie (12).

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Fenwick’s Bryce Hopkins blew through Rolling Meadows’ Max Christie and scored. Then minutes later Christie swatted away Hopkins’ shot at the rim.

The No. 1 and No. 2 rated juniors in the state attacked each other time and time again in the When Sides Collide Shootout at Glenbard East on Saturday. It’s what the fans came to see and they were not disappointed.

Hopkins had 37 points and 14 rebounds and the Friars knocked off Rolling Meadows 69-56. Christie countered with 31 points, six rebounds and four blocks.

It’s an old story, the top players in a class matched up against each other in a high-profile shootout. This one was a little different. Both players were as gentlemanly as an aggressive basketball player could be.

Hopkins, a burly 6-6, used his size to brutal advantage, but never beyond the scope of what was necessary to make a play.

Christie seemed almost embarrassed when he blocked Hopkins multiple times. And he helped Fenwick players up to their feet on a couple of occasions.

“[Christie] is a good friend of mine,” Hopkins said. “We used to play together on the Illinois Wolves [club basketball team]. We just gave people the matchup they wanted to see. He showed what he can do and I showed what I can do.”

Christie is the top-rated player in the class. He’s uncommitted but has an offer from Duke. Hopkins is number two and has committed to Louisville.

“I just wanted to come into the game not thinking it was me vs. Bryce,” Christie said. “We are both great players. The media wants to talk about the ranking difference but I took the approach it was Rolling Meadows vs. Fenwick.”

Fenwick (18-4) led 36-30 at halftime. The Mustangs (13-6) made eight three-pointers in the first two quarters.

Things dried up for Rolling Meadows in the third quarter. Christie scored all eight points.

“We put pressure on them with traps to let them make mistakes,” Fenwick coach Staunton Peck said. “Our athleticism and pressure bothered them.”

A three-pointer from Christie with 5:11 to play cut the Friars’ lead to 50-47 but that was as close as the Mustangs would get.

The Friars have been in and out of the Super 25 all season. Rolling Meadows hasn’t been ranked in recent memory.

“It was a big game for us as a team,” Christie said. “It was good to hang in with them. People don’t really know us as a top team that can stick with these guys. So it was

a good showing tonight. We surprised some people in the crowd that didn’t think Rolling Meadows was really anything.”

Sophomore Trey Pettigrew scored 20 for Fenwick.

“Trey did great,” Peck said. “His defense and his pressure changed the tempo. Everyone is talking about Bryce and Max but we have another guy that is a sophomore that is a stud.”

Christie has earned raves from recruiting analysts for three years, but this was the first time he’s played in a major showcase game in the area. He lived up to the hype, as did Hopkins, who is more well-established locally.

“I would take Bryce before anybody,” Peck said. “Max Christie is a great player. As a high school player guarding Bryce in the post is almost impossible. I don’t know if I know how lucky I am.”

It would have been understandable if Hopkins, the second-ranked player, came out with a chip on his shoulder or a major attitude. That wasn’t the case. He played hard and clean, as did Christie.

“We’re not those type of players,” Hopkins said.

“My approach was just to go and win the game,” Christie said. “I wasn’t trying to outplay him or look better than him. I was just trying to win.”

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