Michael O’Brien’s high school basketball notebook

Scores, highlights and analysis of Tuesday’s games.

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A packed Torry Gymnasium in Washington for the first day of the Tournament of Champions.

A packed Torry Gymnasium in Washington for the first day of the Tournament of Champions.

Michael O’Brien/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON, IL—When a high school player commits to Duke, he knows what he is in for. It brings special attention and all the good and bad that comes along with that kind of intense observation.

Washington fans packed their hometown gym on Tuesday. It was the start of their major local event, the Kevin Brown Memorial Tournament of Champions, and the season debut of the Washington Panthers.

And there was a Duke recruit in the house: Yorkville Christian’s Jaden Schutt.

The 6-6 senior opened the game with a dunk. It was a set play to free him up along the baseline. Simeon used to run something similar to start games back in the Derrick Rose era.

The first quarter was close but then the Mustangs built a lead. Schutt dunked some more, hit a few threes and blocked shots. All with a playful smile. It was easy to picture him as the jock villain in some 1980s teen movie.

And it turns out that’s exactly what Schutt had in mind.

“That’s what basketball is about, these kinds of crowds,” Schutt said.” It’s something you always look forward to as a kid, playing in a packed gym against the home team and getting to be the villains and just kind of having fun with that.”

Schutt finished with 27 points and six rebounds in the 92-69 win. Everyone knows he’s going to be one of the state’s top players. But what about the rest of the Mustangs?

Senior KJ Vasser had an eye-opening game. He was 8 for 11 from three-point range and scored 27.

“KJ has been in the gym with me early mornings and late nights,” Schutt said. “We get a lot of shots up. The whole team does. It really showed tonight with the way we were able to space the floor.”

Senior Tyler Burrows and junior David Douglas each added 15.

“That crowd was crazy for the first game of the season,” Vasser said. “They were yelling at us as soon as we ran out there.”

Yorkville Christian likes to play fast and shoot quickly. The Mustangs were 15 for 28 from three-point range. That kind of shooting can cover up a lot of flaws. They only grabbed two rebounds in the first quarter and were out-rebounded 40-19 in the game.

Interior defense was also a problem. The Pathers went on a little run in the third quarter when they realized they could score in the post rather easily.

Schutt stepped up and stopped that in the fourth quarter. And he was the player that started grabbing boards in the second quarter.

“[Schutt] can do that,” Yorkville Christian coach Aaron Sovern said. “He’s got a little nasty streak in him.”

Schutt is talented enough to do just about whatever Yorkville Christian needs. Typical of a Duke recruit.

“It’s almost like I’m the tallest guy on the team,” Schutt joked. “But that’s one thing we really have to focus on, boxing out. We are small so we have to grind things out down there.”

It was a very successful debut in a tough environment. A solid start for a team with big goals this season. But Mustangs coach Aaron Sovern wasn’t satisfied.

“I told the guys we didn’t play well. But every time they punched we answered with a combo,” Sovern said.

Yorkville Christian will face Kankakee on Wednesday morning. Kays coach Chris Pickett says he’s missing nine players that are still with the football team. So it is unknown just how much of a challenge Kankakee will be able to muster.

Tuesday’s top games

St. Rita 76, Urbana 47: This was the other game tonight in Washington involving local teams. I watched the first three quarters before I had to start writing. Melvin Bell was excellent in his high school basketball debut and Morez Johnson is a special player. More on the Mustangs tomorrow. They play a team from Wisconsin at 1:30.

Glenbrook South 79, Jacobs 32: Cooper Noard had six three pointers and 30 points and Nick Martinelli scored 17. This duo needs a nickname.

Oswego East 55, Hinsdale Central 52: Kind of a big win for Oswego East? Hinsdale Central is so well-coached and tough. Patrick Robinson scored 15 and Mekhi Lowery added 14. Emerson Eck led the Red Devils with 17.

Beecher 65, Peotone 47: The Bobcats are 2-0. Adyn MicGinley had 22 points and five steals but the big news in this one is Duane Doss. The senior had 21 points, which gives him more than 1,000 for his career. That’s extra impressive considering covid limited Beecher to just nine games last season.

Evanston 53, Libertyville 51: Freshman Yaris Irby hit the game-winner and scored seven. David Gieser, Prince Adams and Rashawn Bost each scored 10.

Neuqua Valley 62, Oswego 28: That’s an impressive margin. Jayden Dean and Chris Srbinov each scored 12 for the Wildcats.

Lake Forest 78, Bulls Prep 25: Massive game for Asa Thomas. The junior scored 40. Alex Forowycz added 14 and Sam Gibson had seven points and seven assists. The Scouts face St. Ignatius tomorrow. Should be a really good one.

Mount Carmel 68, Buffalo Grove 58: Deandre Craig opens his junior year by scoring 32 points. Anthony Ciaravino added 11. Adidas Davis led Buffalo Grove with 17.

Carmel 68, North Lawndale 60: Eye-opening win for the Corsairs, who are 2-0.

Glenbard West 73, Glenbard North 32: Braden Huff and Paxton Warden each scored 22 and Billy Durkin added 15.

Simeon 89, King 15: Debated on putting this one in the notebook, but Simeon’s opener has to be noted. It’s a shame for the Jaguars. Miles Rubin had 18 points, nine rebounds and five blocks in his debut with the Wolverines. Jaylen Dran added 15 points and five steals.

Oak Park 73, U-High 69: A close one but the Huskies survive the opner. Sam Lewis scored 24 and Justin Mullins added 20 points.

Lincoln-Way East 77, Fenger 68: George Bellevue is a name to remember. He impressed me last season. Had 21 points tonight. Fenger must be pretty good, tough games two nights in a row to open the season.

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