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Weekend Forecast: Previewing and predicting this weekend’s top games

The first weekend forecast for 2022 is here with a slate of games that hopefully will tip off with full, healthy rosters. 

Wheaton-Warrenville South’s Braylen Meredith (25) grabs a rebound and the basket against Batavia.
Wheaton-Warrenville South’s Braylen Meredith (25) grabs a rebound and the basket against Batavia.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

The first weekend forecast in 2022 is here with a slate of games that –– fingers crossed! –– will hopefully tip off and are matchups with full, healthy rosters.

The late December forecast on what was the busiest day of the season thus far netted a 12-2 record, so let’s keep it rolling with some more picks.

St. Ignatius (8-6) at Brother Rice (12-2), Friday

A good one in the Catholic League featuring a team that leads the Catholic White and one that is unbeaten in the Catholic Blue.

Catholic League White favorite St. Igatius has had an up-and-down start to the season, going 16 days without a game and then losing coach Matt Monroe for a week due to Covid protocols. But this talented group, led by 6-5 junior Richard Barron and seniors Kolby Gilles and AJ Redd, has the personnel to get untracked and put a run together.

There is no question point guard Ahmad Henderson is the catalyst for Brother Rice. He’s dynamic offensively reading and reacting to ball screens and is a big threat from beyond the arc. Khalil Ross has used his 6-6 length and activity level to be a major factor as a rebounder and scorer.

Brother Rice has been humming along and been more crisp than Ignatius up to this point, losing to only Curie and Wheaton Warrenville South, two teams that are a combined 30-2.

Hoops Report pick: Brother Rice 67, St. Ignatius 60

Palatine (11-5) at Barrington (12-3), Friday

The Mid-Suburban League West is wide open, and the sorting out phase begins with this January meeting.

The surprise of the league is Palatine, which returned just one starter from a year ago but sits atop the league with a 3-0 record. There is quality youth, led by 6-4 junior Tyler Swierczek, offensive balance and some length to contend with Barrington’s size.

Barrington features do-it-all Will Grudzinksi, a versatile 6-5 senior, and steady point guard Daniel Jong who can score and facilitate. Barrington was the favorite when the season began and needs this one to avoid falling two games behind Palatine in the conference race. The Broncos do just that and muddle up the MSL West even more.

Hoops Report pick: Barrington 53, Palatine 45

Wheaton Warrenville South (15-1) at Lake Park (11-2), Saturday

This midseason DuKane Conference matchup wasn’t expected to play such a big role in the conference race when the season began. But both teams are better than most people expected.

While Wheaton Warrenville South’s defense grabs a lot of attention, senior Tyler Fawcett and the Tigers also provide some offensive potency. That combination has fueled coach Mike Healy’s team and vaulted the Tigers up the rankings.

Lake Park ripped off nine straight wins before being shut down for Covid protocols prior to going to the Pekin Holiday Tournament in late December. So this is the biggest test of the season as the Lancers face their first ranked team. The backcourt of Vito LaGioia (14.5 ppg) and Sebastian Blachut (15 ppg) is one of the best in the DuKane.

Hoops Report pick: Wheaton South 55, Lake Park 47

Rolling Meadows (14-2) at Deerfield (10-3), Saturday

Rolling Meadows is putting together a heck of a season. Cameron Christie and Orlando Thomas are quite the 1-2 punch in the backcourt as the Mustangs have wins over Burlington Central, Libertyville, Lemont, Lake Forest and Bolingbrook. The only losses have come to two teams, Glenbard West and Wheaton South, with a combined record of 28-1.

Deerfield, which has experience and a rock in point guard Luke Woodson, has been a surprise and evolved into one of the Central Suburban League North’s favorites.

Hoops Report pick: Rolling Meadows 63, Deerfield 54

St. Rita (11-4) vs. Peoria Notre Dame (9-2) at the Highland Shootout, Saturday

The downstate shootout in Highland brings together four of the top five prospects in the Class of 2024 together in this game: Notre Dame’s 6-8 Cooper Koch and St. Rita’s trio of point guard Jaedin Reyna, 6-8 Morez Johnson and 6-9 James Brown.

The four sophomores are the story for the fans in attendance, but Notre Dame is a threat in Class 3A. The Irish are ranked No. 6 in the state in Class 3A. and St. Rita is looking to stack together some bigger wins. They get one here in a double-digit win behind the talented sophomores, freshman Melvin Bell and junior guard Kaiden Space.

Hoops Report pick: St. Rita 67, Notre Dame 54

DePaul (10-1) vs. Homewood-Flossmoor (9-2), Saturday at DePaul Prep Shootout

Fresh off its Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic title, H-F looks to stay hot. Christian Meeks and Nashawn Holmes have been the backbone for coach Marc Condotti’s team. The defense has continued to improve with only one team all season scoring more than 60 points against the Vikings.

DePaul, led by big man Dylan Arnett’s 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks a game, was put on a pause in December and has not played since before Christmas. That’s concerning for such an inexperienced team, so the Rams could be a little rusty.

Hoops Report pick: H-F 55, DePaul 52

Benet (10-3) vs. Glenbard West (14-0), Saturday at DePaul Prep Shootout

Glenbard West, the unbeaten, top-ranked team in the state, gets a look at what will be one of its toughest sectional challenges two months from now. Benet is only going to get better as the season progresses and has a big man with size and athleticism in 6-9 Kyle Thomas to throw at 6-11 Braden Huff. Benet, though, has not fared well against the top teams it’s played this season, losing to Proviso East, Curie and New Trier. And the Hilltoppers are better than all of them.

Hoops Report pick: Glenbard West 60, Benet 50