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Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic preview

Breaking down the favorite, top contenders and top storyline at the Hinsdale Central tournament.

Oak Forest’s Taurean Mickens (44) takes the ball to the basket past Lane Tech’s Luca Basile (24).
Oak Forest’s Taurean Mickens (44) takes the ball to the basket past Lane Tech’s Luca Basile (24).
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic

The favorite: DePaul Prep lost all five starters from a year ago. But the Rams are still unbeaten behind 6-9 Dylan Arnett, senior guard Trevon Thomas and sophomore Payton Kamin. For all of DePaul’s success in recent years, this tournament has not been kind to the Rams. They’ve made four consecutive trips to the semifinals but have only one runner-up finish and three fourth-place finishes to show for it. Can they get over the hump and win this thing?

Top contenders: Oswego East is off to an impressive 11-0 start. Led by big-bodied Patrick Robinson, who’s a load to handle as a punishing finisher and improving three-point threat, the Wolves are looking to prove that they’re one of the elite teams in the Chicago area.

Can young but extremely talented St. Rita put together four days of high level basketball? A title here could be used as a springboard for this promising team that’s looking for résumé-building wins.

Sleepers: Oak Forest has a highly productive star in Robbie Avila. Senior forward Christian Meeks leads sneaky-dangerous Homewood-Flossmoor. Stevenson is well-coached, so it’s always a threat. And keep an eye on the host team, competitive Hinsdale Central, which lost to Oswego East 55-52 over Thanksgiving.

Storyline: Teams with perfect records across the area have dwindled, but there are two unbeaten teams to pay close attention to in this tournament. DePaul and Oswego East, however, have difficult roads ahead in trying to get to January unscathed.

Top five players to watch: Robbie Avila, Oak Forest; Morez Johnson, St. Rita; Dylan Arnett, DePaul; Jeremiah Jones, Marian Catholic; Patrick Robinson, Oswego East.

Schedule

First round, Dec. 22

Stevenson vs. Morton, 9:30 a.m.

Oak Forest vs. Maine South, 11 a.m.

Homewood-Flossmoor vs. Willowbrook, 12:30

St. Rita vs. Lincoln-Way Central, 2

Marian Catholic vs. Richards, 3:45

Oswego East vs. Rockford Auburn, 5:15

Hinsdale Central vs. St. Charles East, 7

DePaul Prep vs. Glenbard East, 8:30

Quarterfinals, Dec. 23

Semifinals, Dec. 28

Championship, Dec. 29