Wheeling Hardwood Classic
Where: Wheeling High School
The favorite: Glenbrook South will have a bulls-eye on its back. The tandem of Nick Martinelli and Cooper Noard have been as good as advertised and then some while complementing one another so well. The lone loss on the season was a three-point defeat to top-ranked Glenbard West.
The contenders: After anointing Glenbrook South as the easy favorite, a whole lot of balance follows.
Fremd is Fremd –– always pesky and anchored by a steady, experienced backcourt with Eli Schoffstall and Chris Smyros. The Vikings pose perhaps the biggest threat to Glenbrook South in the bottom bracket. The Vikings would likely meet an overlooked Libertyville team with size –– the Bonder brothers, 6-7 senior Chase and 6-5 junior Cole, lead the way –– in the second round.
The top bracket is wide open with a handful of teams all capable of making a run. Glenbrook North has a go-to player in junior Ryan Cohen. Notre Dame may not have a lot of experience, but the Sonny Williams-led Dons are dangerous. Niles North has a catalyst in Yogi Oliff at point guard but has a very tough opening game, facing Prospect and point guard Owen Schneider.
Sleeper: Keep an eye on Deerfield. The Warriors have the ultimate leader and winner in Luke Woodson who has been so instrumental in their nice start.
Tournament storyline: With a highly-ranked team as the clear-cut favorite, the storyline is, “Who can beat Glenbrook South?” But what will be very entertaining are the endless tight, up-for-grabs matchups this tournament will feature with so much parity behind GBS.
Top five players to watch: Nick Martinelli and Cooper Noard, Glenbrook South; Ryan Cohen, Glenbrook North; Yogi Oliff, Niles North; Sonny Williams, Notre Dame.
Dec. 27, first round
Deerfield advances, St. Viator pulled out of the tournament
Glenbrook North vs. Hampshire, 10:30 a.m.
Notre Dame vs. Mather, 12:15
Niles North vs. Prospect, 2
Buffalo Grove vs. Glenbard North, 3:45
Glenbrook South vs. Waukegan, 5:30
Wheeling vs. Libertyville, 7:15
Fremd vs. Maine West, 8:45
Dec. 28, Quarterfinals
Dec. 29, Semifinals
Dec. 30, Championship