High school basketball weekend forecast: Previewing and predicting the top games

The headliner of the weekend is a rematch in the Central Suburban League South that will decide a league title.

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Glenbrook South’s Cooper Noard (11) shoots the ball against Evanston.

Glenbrook South’s Cooper Noard (11) shoots the ball against Evanston.

Kirsten Stickney/Fo the Sun-Times

The headliner of the weekend is a rematch in the Central Suburban League South that will decide a league title. That game and the other top matchups are previewed in this Weekend Forecast.

Glenbrook South (26-3) at Evanston (24-4), Friday, 7

The game of the weekend in the Chicago area with the Central Suburban League South title on the line.

There is suddenly a lot of recent history between these two programs. Last season Glenbrook South’s arrival was marked with a December win over Evanston. Then the two met in a sectional semifinal, which Evanston won last March.

And thanks to its 67-53 late January win over Evanston, Glenbrook South is unbeaten and alone in first place in the CSL South.

Now first place is on the line in late February with another potential meeting next month in what would be a sectional clash.

What’s going on with Evanston? Talented Evanston suffered an upset loss to Kenwood earlier this week. Was that cause for concern or simply a trap game in looking ahead to its showdown with the Titans?

But Evanston has not played with the same chip on its shoulder as it did the first half of the season. Going 6-4 after a 18-0 start to the season may not be what the doctor ordered heading into the postseason, so this could be a cure-all for the ’Kits.

Evanston will spread you out, space the floor and beat you off the dribble. But they need to make shots. Last time these two met the sharp-shooting Wildkits made just 6-of-23 from the three-point line. This is still a well-rounded perimeter group, led by juniors Blake Peters, Jaylin Gibson and Isaiah Holden.

More importantly, Evanston must find a way to do what every team that faces Glenbrook South must figure out: How do you contain Dom Martinelli? The 6-4 senior was a monster in the first meeting, scoring 34 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out four assists.

Sophomores Cooper Noard and Nick Martinelli have grown up in a hurry, while senior Danny Pauletto is a bit of the unsung player for the Titans.

But it’s going to be awfully difficult to beat Evanston twice –– and on the road to boot. The Wildkits regroup and find a way in a close one.

Hoops Report pick: Evanston 63, Glenbrook South 60

Loyola (25-4) at Fenwick (23-6), Friday, 7

While Loyola won a big, heavily-hyped game earlier in the week, beating DePaul Prep to take control of the Catholic League Blue, it must refocus quickly.

Fenwick and the extremely talented and potent tandem of 6-6 Bryce Hopkins and 6-2 guard Trey Pettigrew await. And the Friars are just one game back of Loyola in the standings.

Loyola’s defensive prowess has been well documented. It’s simply tough to score on the Ramblers. Loyola held DePaul Prep to just 37 points, and it’s simply a tall task to score 45-plus points on the Ramblers.

Offensively, there is balance and discipline with several options that can hurt you. That starts with 6-8 Bennett Kwiecinski (12 ppg) and extends to an unheralded but balanced group that includes versatile Matt Enghauser, 6-8 Jordan Kwiecinski and shooter Will Pujals, who all average 9-10 points a game, and the point guard tandem of Billy Palmer and Vaughn Pemberton who average six points apiece.

Defense has not exactly been Fenwick’s forte. However, the Friars showed defensive life in its win over DePaul Prep two weeks ago. Holding DePaul Prep to 48 points showed them what can be done and accomplished with some serious effort at that end of the floor.

There is plenty of scoring options and weapons that Loyola will have to contend with, including the 1-2 punch of Hopkins and Pettigrew.

Hopkins, one of the top 75 talents nationally in the Class of 2021, is committed to Louisville and is putting up 24 points and 10 rebounds a game. Pettigrew is a budding star and has flourished this season with the ball in his hands, averaging 16 points and four assists a game.

Hoops Report pick: Loyola 45, Fenwick 42

St. Ignatius (21-7) at DePaul Prep (21-5), Friday, 7

While Fenwick and Loyola battle it out Friday night for Catholic League Blue supremacy, these two 21-win teams will go at it in what is an important game for both teams.

DePaul Prep, a team that had been humming along, needs a bounce-back win after losing to Brother Rice, Fenwick and Loyola over the past three weeks. Coach Tom Kleinschmidt’s team is a bonafide top 25 team that needs to regain a little of its mojo.

This will be a great barometer for St. Ignatius. The Wolfpack have quietly put together a very strong season, one that includes a stretch where they’ve gone 12-3 in the last 15 games. Their win over Fenwick last week opened some eyes.

But St. Ignatius will need to handle the perimeter defense DePaul Prep applies. The Rams have speed and are pesky on the defensive end which can lead to transition baskets when things are rolling. The trio of TY Johnson, Rasheed Bello and Lance Mosley are all impactful at both ends of the floor. Plus, junior big man Brian Matthews just gets better and better.

Senior Daniel Florey has been a consistent threat all season in the backcourt for St. Ignatius. He’s averaging 14.7 points a game while knocking down 85 three-pointers on the year. Senior Luke Collins (10.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg), junior Parker Higginbottom (9.3 ppg) and promising sophomores A.J. Redd (8.1 ppg) and Kolby Gilles (6.5 ppg) have all helped fuel this Ignatius run in the second half of the season.

Hoops Report pick: DePaul Prep 59, St. Ignatius 50

Palatine (18-11) at Schaumburg (22-6), Friday, 7:30

Just what you want: A late-season game to decide a conference champion. These two are tied atop the Mid-Suburban League West.

Then you throw in a couple of productive junior big men in Schaumburg’s 6-8 Chris Hodges, a Wisconsin commit, and Palatine’s 6-7 Julian Campbell, who has scored 1,000-plus points? A fun matchup in the northwest suburbs. Those two big men went at it the last time they met in January, with Hodges scoring 20 and Campbell finishing with 17.

Schaumburg won the early January meeting between these two, beating the Pirates 49-40. However, Palatine has played much better since that last meeting. Coach Eric Millstone’s team is 9-2 in its last 11 games.

Hoops Report pick: Schaumburg 46, Palatine 39

Benet (20-8) at Stevenson (22-4), Saturday, 5:30

These two perennial powers will be scratching, clawing and grinding out points any way they can get them.

Benet is fresh off beating Notre Dame, the No. 1 ranked team in Class 3A, last weekend. Big man Colin Crothers and shooter Jack Prock lead the way for a Benet team that’s played a rigorously strong schedule. Now the Redwings go on the road to face a veteran Stevenson team with high hopes this March.

The Patriots, led by senior guard Matthew Ambrose, are as balanced of a team as you will find with five players averaging between eight and 11 points.

Hoops Report pick: Stevenson 44, Benet 40

Curie (24-2) at Oak Forest (25-1), Saturday, 3

An intriguing late-season non-conference showdown.

Curie is coming off just its second loss of the season, falling to Simeon in the city semifinals. And for Oak Forest it’s a true measuring stick game.

While Curie has been near or at the top of the rankings all season long, Oak Forest has quietly climbed the rankings all season.

Coach Matt Manzke’s Bengals have been one of the best stories of the high school basketball season. It’s a program enjoying a breakout season, one not seen since atOak Forest since the 1986-87 team won 28 games and reached the Elite Eight in Champaign.

But this is a step up for the Bengals. This is the type of test this talented group from Oak Forest,featuring senior scoring wing Jayson Kent and standout 6-8 sophomore Robbie Avila, needs at this point in the season.

Ramean Hinton and Company, however, prove to be too much.

Hoops Report pick: Curie 70, Oak Forest 61

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