PONTIAC—It was fantastic to see huge crowds at the holiday tournaments all over the state. This week felt like a truly proper return to the pre-COVID levels of attendance.
And the basketball was spectacular. Teams like Lyons and Rolling Meadows quieted doubters and some new schools emerged, Libertyville and Grayslake Central in particular.
Friday’s top games (all tournament championships)
Sacred Heart-Griffin 57, Romeoville 41: Zack Hawkinson scored 20 and Jake Hamilton added 19 points for SHG. What a solid holiday season for Romeoville though, this experience should be a real shot in the arm for a talented team that is still finding its way. Meyoh Swansey scored 15 and Aaron Brown added 10 points.
St. Louis Cardinal Ritter 58, Evanston 52: Another local team loses, but definitely opens some eyes. The Wildkits have lost to a lot of good area teams but are clearly improving. Prince Adams and Jonah Ross made the all-tournament team.
Geneva 43, United 40: The Vikings win the 95th Chuck Dayton Holiday Classic, my new under the radar favorite holiday tournament. It’s the third time Geneva has captured the championship.
Lincoln-Way East 56, Teutopolis 38: Ty Toliver scored 23 and the Griffins are 14-1, took care of business over the holidays. Toliver, George Bellevue and Kyle Olagbegi made the all-tournament team.
Shepard 45, Elgin 41: Jermell Lymon scored 18 and Payton Crims added 12 points.
IC Catholic 62, Taft 61: That’s nine wins in a row and a title for the Knights. Looks like this was a fun one. Lyle Scibor led Taft with 20 points.
Grayslake Central 56, Crystal Lake South 51: I didn’t see stats for this one but I’m excited to get out and cover the Rams as soon as possible.
And finally... the Grayslake Central Rams receives their medals, trophies and officially stamp the tournament bracket as the 2022 Hinkle Holiday Classic Champions, 12/30. @GoGCHSRams @Grayslake_Rams @GCentralHoops @HDJ_Athletics @JHSHoops pic.twitter.com/yj9pd6N24e— Hinkle Holiday Classic @Jacobs High School (@HinkleHoliday) December 31, 2022
Niles West 74, Maine East 73 2 OT: A thriller in Park Ridge. Joseph Pantazis scored 24 for the Wolves and Timothy Matthew added 13.
RICH (BIG DIPPER)
Hillcrest 69, Perspectives-Leadership 64: Another massive crowd at the Big Dipper tonight. It’s been great to see all the holiday tournaments rebound stronly this season. Darrion Baker led the Hawks to the title with 24 points and 12 rebounds and Quentin Heady added 24. Jakeem Cole led the Warriors with 28 points. It was a great tournament for Perspectives.
Libertyville 64, Glenbrook North 59: How about the Wildcats? Aidyn Boone had a monster title game with 21 points and 12 rebounds and tournament MVP Will Buchert added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Rolling Meadows 56, Lyons 42: Last week Joe Henricksen and I said that Rolling Meadows was the team with the most to prove heading into the holidays. The Mustangs completely delivered, rolling to the championship. Cam Christie bolstered his Player of the Year candidacy with 26 points in the title game. Mark Nikolich-Wilson and Ian Miletic each added 11 points. Nik Polonowski led the Lions with 16. This was Lyons’ first loss of the season. And you could argue no team in the area bolstered its reputation more than the Lions did this week.