Free Throws: Marist’s start, Sayonara and the unbeatens

Marist has a high ceiling and could be a factor in the playoffs after the freshmen and sophomores gain more experience.

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St. Patrick’s E.J. Breland (13) and Marist’s Mason Ross (1) battle for the ball in the final seconds of the game.

St. Patrick’s E.J. Breland (13) and Marist’s Mason Ross (1) battle for the ball in the final seconds of the game.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Marist is a particularly interesting team this season. Three freshmen and two sophomores are key players. Those prospects will bring out the recruiting evaluators and highlight-video makers.

But coach Brian Hynes is depending on a core of seniors to carry the load. Mason Ross, Kaden White, Justin Lang and Dermot Smyth are solid, unselfish players that have provided a foundation for the RedHawks to succeed this season. They are off to a 10-1 start.

“They are high character kids that don’t care about stats,” Hynes said. “They care about their teammates. They are the kids you dream about coaching.”

Marist picked up its first loss of the season on Friday, falling at home to St. Patrick. After the game, Hynes wondered how his team would respond.

“Will we come together or stronger or start to show the chinks in the armor,” Hynes asked.

His group responded with a big road win against Naperville North on Saturday. The freshmen and sophomores were decent in the loss to the Shamrocks, but rose up and starred on Saturday.

Freshman guard Adoni Vassilakis scored 15 points and 6-6 freshman Stephen Brown scored 14. The RedHawks will be a load to handle when the young players are scoring.

Expect Marist to take some lumps throughout the season, that 10-1 record isn’t loaded with high-quality wins. But the RedHawks have a high ceiling and could be a factor in the playoffs after the freshmen and sophomores gain more experience.

Guard down

Simeon will be without guard Kaiden Space until sometime in January. The Stony Brook recruit broke his wrist in the Chicago Elite Classic against St. Rita.

The Wolverines haven’t missed a beat without Space, but losing a key guard will be a factor at the loaded Pontiac Holiday Tournament, where Simeon would have to win four tough games in three days to capture the championship.

Young faces Simeon on Friday at Credit Union One Arena. The event is named Sayonara, as there will be a ceremony to honor retiring Wolverines coach Robert Smith.

There is a strong lineup of games overall. Hyde Park will face Mount Carmel, Joliet West takes on defending Class 3A state champs Sacred Heart-Griffin and St Rita faces a good team from Indianapolis.

Unbeaten starts

A significant number of teams have a chance to head into holiday tournaments unbeaten. Simeon (8-0), Benet (10-0), Glenbrook North (10-0), Lyons (7-0), and Lemont (10-0) are all ranked and undefeated. Barrington (8-0), Manley (11-0), Seneca (9-0) and TF North (7-0) are also unbeaten.

There’s a chance Lyons and Lemont could still be undefeated and face off in the York title game on New Year’s eve. Simeon and Benet are on opposite sides of the bracket in Pontiac and could also meet in a title game featuring teams with perfect records.

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