Michael O’Brien’s high school basketball notebook

Scores, highlights and analysis from the top games of Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.

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Evanston coach Mike Ellis and his team jumps up after a call an official made against Rockford East.

Evanston coach Mike Ellis and his team jumps up after a call an official made against Rockford East.

Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

It’s starting to feel like everyone is getting in the flow of things a bit now. The teams are a little more crisp, my basic math skills are returning and Joe Henricksen even sounded kind of excited about the season on the No Shot Clock episode we recorded this afternoon.

Now if only the weather would cooperate.

The big news from earlier this week was the Chipotle Classic. That’s the official name of the season-ending tournament that Rick Malnati organized. Read about it here if you missed it on Monday.

I have mixed feelings about the event. In a way I’m thrilled it exists. The games are going to be a ton of fun. It’s going to bring some much-needed attention to high school basketball. It’s giving eight teams something to play for and focus on this season.

But that is also my problem. Last week all 400 teams in the area were in the same spot. There was no postseason. That was lousy, but everyone was in the same boat. Now some pre-selected teams get to have a big special event and everyone else is left out, with no way to play themselves in. That stinks.

One team did something about that though. Evanston had a ticket to the Chipotle Classic. It was well-deserved, based on what the team has accomplished over the past few seasons.

Instead of just cashing that in and not looking back, the Wildkits decided to change things up. The winner of the Central Suburban League, Evanston’s conference, will go to the Chipotle Classic. And this isn’t some hollow gesture. There are teams in the CSL that are going to give the Wildkits a challenge.

Kudos to coach Mike Ellis and athletic director Chris Livatino. With one selfless, admirable move, the entire CSL season is now exciting and even more meaningful than it would have been. And the the team from the CSL that advances to the Chipotle Classic will be the one team that truly earned the spot.

I was over at St. Ignatius tonight. The young Wolfpack ran into one of the most balanced high school teams I’ve seen in a long time. Bobby Frasor is getting it done at Brother Rice.

Wednesday’s top games

Neuqua Valley 66, West Aurora 39: No trouble for Neuqua against a struggling West Aurora. Connor Davis scored 19 and John Poulakidas added 13 points.

No. 23 Lyons 79, Proviso East 53: Definitely an eye-opening margin. The Lions are living up to the ranking. Cade Nelson scored 15 and Tavari Johnson added 13 points.

Leo 88, Providence-St. Mel 44: Small school showdown. The Lions take it behind Cam Cleveland’s 20 points. Tyler Smith had 18 and JAkeem Cole added 17.

Geneva 40, St. Charles North 39: Huge win for the Vikings on the road. And they did it in spectacular fashion. Nathan Valentine hit the game-winning three-pointer with three seconds left. Valentine scored 33 in the game and drained nine threes.

No. 4 Mundelein 62, Libertyville 49: Scottie Ebube with another big game. The SIU recruit finished with 20 points and 13 assists. Conor Enright added 15 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Yorkville Christian 107, Westminster Christian 43: Jaden Schutt scored 22. The Mustangs are 3-0 to start the season.

No. 9 Fenwick 50, Providence 36: It’s been smooth sailing so far this season for the Friars. They will face Notre Dame this weekend. Bryce Hopkins led tonight with 19 and Max Reese added 13 points.

Richards 74, Shepard 47: A big night for Anthony Taylor with 27 points and 10 boards. Santiago Rios added 18. Cole Hermanson scored 20 and grabbed 13 rebounds for Shepard.

Oak Forest 55, Bremen 37: Robbie Avila scored 24 points and dished out a bunch of assists according to Twitter. He has the Bengals off to a 3-0 start.

Tinley Park 75, Reavis 48: Some big totals in this one for the Titans. Keon Richards scored 27 and Maurice Evans lit it up with 22 points, 10 rebounds, eight steals and five assists.

Evergreen Park 67, TF North 51: Freshman Nolan Sexton has been a scoring machine so far. He finished with 21 points in this one.

No. 7 Hillcrest 77, Lemont 67: The Hawks are 4-0 and Julius Rollins hasn’t even played yet. Jakobi Heady and Mar’Keise Irving each scored 20.

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