Michael O’Brien’s holiday tournament notebook

Scores and highlights from the state’s top holiday tournaments.

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Raeshom Harris, right, defends as Plainfield North’s Demir Ashuru takes the ball to the net.

Raeshom Harris, right, defends as Plainfield North’s Demir Ashuru takes the ball to the net.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

PONTIAC–Holiday tournaments are a big deal to Illinois high school basketball fans, but Pontiac residents take things to an entirely different level. 

The east side of the gym, where Pontiac Holiday Tournament season ticket holders sit, was jam-packed for the first game of the event, a 9 a.m. matchup between Plainfield North and Bloom. 

“That’s amazing to see,” Blazing Trojans senior Raeshom Harris said. “And it makes a big difference to have a crowd like that when you are trying to get energized for such an early game.”

Harris and his teammates flashed some tantalizing potential in the second half of their 68-47 win against the Tigers. 

Harris led No. 15 Bloom (7-2) with 20 points and sophomore Elijah Lovemore, a transfer from St. Laurence, provided a huge spark off the bench with 14 points. 

“Lovemore has been doing everything we asked and he’s getting more comfortable playing with this group,” Blazing Trojans coach Dante Maddox said. “We’ve been inconsistent this season and the biggest reason is not playing with chemistry. When we play together we can play with anybody.”

Pontiac first round

Benet 78, Oak Park-River Forest 56: The Redwings started a little slow but Patrick Walsh (15 points) and Sam Driscoll (18 points) provided a huge lift off the bench in the second quarter.

Read all about this one.

Lockport 58, Peoria Manual 56 OT: The Rams missd a turnaround three at the buzzer so the Porters are heading into the quarterfinals. Caden Schoolcraft scored 14 and Bryce Turner added 13. Adam Labuda’s three sent the game to overtime and Jalen Falcon made two free throws with 10 seconds left for the win. Geron Trapps scored 20 for Peoria Manual.

Joliet West 76, Bloomington 58: The Tigers did what was expected and Michigan State recruit Jeremy Fears Jr. put on a show with 32 points, five rebounds and five assists. He was 11 for 19 shooting. Plenty has been made of the technical fouls Fears has picked up over his high school career, but the flipside of that is that he doesn’t take a single second off. There isn’t a player in the area that has as big an influence on the court on every single possession, offensively and defensively. Joliet West needed all of that intensity.

Bloomington kept the game close until the Tigers closed the first half with an 8-0 run to lead 41-26.

Sophomore Jeremiah Fears added 18 points and eight assists for Joliet West and Matthew Moore grabbed nine rebounds.

Two players really impressed me from the Purple Raiders. Junior Niko Newsome scored 21 and senior Adam Beasley was everywhere, he finished with 17 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals.

New Trier 63, Warren 50: This one was never in doubt. I only saw the first half, Jake Feigen scored 14 in those two quarters and finished with 28 points. Big man Tyler Van Gorp added nine points and six rebounds. Alex Daniels led the Blue Devils with 16.

Curie 71, Danville 32: It’s probably safe to say that the Condors have shrugged off their early-season malaise. Carlos Harris returned and scored 12 and Sherod Dent had 12 as well. Jeremy Harrington Jr. added 10 points. Jonathan Ireland scored 22 for the Vikings.

Simeon 82, St. Charles North 39: Sam Lewis led the Wolverines with 18 points and treated the crowd to a slam dunk show. 

Pontiac 60, West Aurora 55: The Indians win in the first round for the first time since 2006. Read all about it.

Hinsdale Central semifinals

Oswego East 62, DePaul Prep 47: The favorites advance to the champioinship game. Mekhi Lowery is one of the best players I’ve covered so far this season and he delivered tonight with 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Ryan Johnson added 13 and Bryce Shoto scored 12 for the Wolves.

Hinsdale Central 44, Marian Catholic 27: Well the gym should be rocking tomorrow with the home team in the title game. Ben Oosterbaan led the Red Devils with 21 points. He’s a Michigan recruit in baseball and is having a heck of a basketball season.

Proviso West semifinals

Young 68, St. Rita 66: I followed this one on Proviso West’s live score page. The Dolphins led throughout but Morez Johnson led a late St. Rita charge to cut it to a two-point deficit in the final minute. Really impressive win for Young, which was outrebounded 36-20 but won anyway. Daniel Johnson had 25 points and six rebounds for the Dolphins. Marcus Pigram scored 14 and Dalen Davis added 13 points and four assists.

Morez Johnson led St. Rita with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Nojus Indrusaitis scored 18 and James Brown added 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Kenwood 78, Proviso East 50: By all accounts Kenwood was incredible. Someone texted me that the Broncos “looked like an NBA team.” Sophomore Aleks Alston had his second consecutive big game with 17 poitns and Tyler Smith added 15. Bryce Coleman led the Pirates with 16 points. It is a Young vs. Kenwood rematch in the title game tomorrow.

Rich (Big Dipper) quarterfinals

Perspectives-Leadership 78, Francis Parker 52: The Colonels couldn’t pull off another upset. Perspectives junior Gianni Cobb had a huge game with 29 points and 10 assists. His brother, senior KJ Cobb, added 15 points and seven rebounds.

Hyde Park 53, Thornwood 49: Jurrell Baldwin continues his breakout with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Cam Williford added 17 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Rich 54, De La Salle 52: A good one here and I’d call this a mild upset, even considering the home advantage for the Raptors. Angelo Coleman had 17 points and Victor Brown added 17 points and nine rebounds.

Hillcrest 74, Ag. Science 48: The Hawks roll behind 19 points and nine rebounds from Quentin Heady.

York quarterfinals

St. Ignatius 70, Riverside-Brookfield 45: Dominant win for Iggy. We will see what transpires over the next few days but this is still a fairly young team overall with a lot of room to improve over the next two months. Sky is the limit for the Wolfpack. Richard Barron scored 24, Reggie Ray 14 and Jackson Kotecki added 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Wolfpack was 7 for 15 from three-point range. Big man Stefan Cicic led Ri-B with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Lyons 59, Palatine 34: The unbeaten Lions pulled away in the fourth quarter. Graham Smith scored 16. Connor May led the Pirates with 12 points.

Rolling Meadows 74, Glenbrook South 64: The Mustangs are into the semifinals after beating Glenbrook South for the second time this season. Cam Christie scored 28 and Tsvet Sotirov added 22 points. All the favorites winning at the Tosh feels a little strange?

Bolingbrook 53, Lemont 50: I watched the end of this one on YouTube. The Jack Tosh does a great job streaming its games, all for free, so check that out if you get a chance. Lemont had a couple chances to tie or win it at the end but ran into some bad luck. Aries Hull led the Raiders with 11 and Keon Alexander scored 10. This is the first loss of the season for Lemont. Rokas Castillo scored 17 and Matas Castillo had 16.

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