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Curie beats Notre Dame in showdown between state’s top teams in Class 4A, 3A

Saiveon Williams, a 6-6 senior, finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds to led the Condors to a 76-69 win against the Dons. 

Curie’s Saiveon Williams (4) shoots the ball over Notre Dame.
Curie’s Saiveon Williams (4) shoots the ball over Notre Dame.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Saiveon Williams arrived from South Carolina this season with zero fanfare. He was well-known to the Curie community, his brother is Condors senior Armond Williams. But this was not a hyped transfer. Outsiders had no clue what a massive impact he would have on the season.

Williams became eligible in December and has consistently improved. Heading into the state playoffs he’s clearly the best post player in the Public League.

Wednesday in Niles there were high-level college prospects on both teams. Curie is the state’s top-ranked team in Class 4A and Notre Dame is the top-ranked team in Class 3A. Assistant coaches from Illinois and several other local schools were in the gym. But none of them were there for Williams, the most effective player on the floor.

“Eastern Illinois has reached out to me but that is it,” Williams said.

“He’s so athletic,” Curie interim coach Larry Wallace said. “In practice those are all dunks but for some reason on game day I think he tries to dunk it too hard or something. But he finished those layups and that was the difference. He’s automatic with either hand. He finishes.”

The 6-6 senior finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Condors to a 76-69 win against the Dons.

“In the first half both teams were shooting threes,” Williams said. “I knew we had to get some easy baskets around the rim so I just went hard. The screen and roll was working so that’s what I did.”

Curie point guard Elijah Pickens had 14 points and 12 assists. He’s clearly become significantly more comfortable with Williams over the last few months.

“We kind of connected now with just talking and playing together for a while,” Pickens said.

The rest of the Public League’s high-profile teams were off this week. Curie played a tough game at Oak Forest on Saturday and then walked into a raucous gym on Wednesday. The Condors won both games and have established themselves as the clear favorites in the Class 4A state tournament that starts next week.

Curie coach Mike Oliver has been suspended since late January. Chicago Public Schools removed him from his security position after an allegation of a physical altercation with a student.

“They know what [Oliver] is going through and they want to make him proud,” Wallace said. “It has given them a little more edge. When we have those moments where we don’t know where it comes from I think it is coming from that.”

Ramean Hinton had 21 points and seven rebounds for the Condors (26-2) and Nick Owens added 14 points.

“Owens has been working on that jump shot because we know teams are not going to guard him with the other weapons we have,” Wallace said. “He’s capable of knocking down shots.”

Troy D’Amico led Notre Dame (26-5) with 29 points and five rebounds. Anthony Sayles added 16 and junior Louis Lesmond finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

“Both teams competed their butts off,” Dons coach Kevin Clancy said. “It was a high-level game with a great atmosphere. I give them credit for coming up here. They don’t back down from anyone and we wanted the challenge. I’m guessing they are going to take something away from this. We certainly will. A play here or there is the difference.”