Illinois recruit Ty Rodgers, a Player of the Year contender and the major star attraction at Rich’s Big Dipper Holiday Tournament, missed Thornton’s last two games with an injury.
Wildcats coach Tai Streets says it isn’t anything serious. Rodgers pulled his hamstring a couple of weeks ago and then re-aggravated it in Thornton’s second game of the tournament, a win against TF South.
“It’s just going to take a little time,” Streets said. “We are hoping he will be back next week. It’s smarter to be safe with it and make sure everything is ok.”
Thornton lost its next two games without Rodgers. Streets said he was missing another key player that was out with COVID.
And it turns out fans at the Big Dipper couldn’t have watched Rodgers and Thornton play in those last two games anyway.
The administration at Rich was closely following the area’s COVID metrics and announced before the tournament that it would shut things down for spectators if the area had more than a 10 percent positivity test rate in the rolling seven-day average for three consecutive days. That happened after the second round games on Dec. 28.
More missing stars
Rodgers wasn’t the only big name sidelined during the holiday tournaments. Young and Kenwood met in the Proviso West title game and neither team had its lead guard.
Darrin Ames, one of the top juniors in the state, missed the entire Proviso West tournament. The Broncos survived and won the title without him but there was much less of the team’s promised “showtime” highlights without Ames on the court. Kenwood coach Mike Irvin expects Ames back very soon.
Dalen Davis, Young’s point guard, missed the Dolphins’ final two games of the tournament. Young survived without him in a 73-70 win against Proviso East and then lost the final to Kenwood 69-64.
Davis was mourning a death in the family and also dealing with some health issues. Young coach Tyrone Slaughter is hoping he will return at some point this week. The Dolphins have also been without Daniel Johnson, a 6-5 junior, all season. He’s expected to be out awhile longer with an injury. He was Young’s second-leading scorer last season.
Mount Carmel and Larkin are in similar spots so far this season. Both won their holiday tournaments. The Caravan is unbeaten and Larkin hasn’t lost to an area team this season. The Royals only defeat was to Rockford East on Nov. 27.
The gaudy records and holiday tournament championships have vaulted both teams into the top ten. But not everyone is convinced.
Mount Carmel hasn’t played one of the area’s elite teams and had tight games against Morgan Park and De La Salle. Larkin has a win against a good Barrington team but had a close game with Bartlett.
Both teams have outstanding lead guards and very solid starting lineups. Mount Carmel junior guard DeAndre Craig is a bonafide star and Larkin senior Damari Wheeler-Thomas, a North Dakota State recruit, has been an excellent player for four years.