Previewing and predicting this weekend’s best high school basketball games

It’s that time to start planting some bulletin board material for teams with predictions and scores of the top games of the weekend.

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Evanston’s Prince Adams (4) shoots the ball over Glenbrook North.

Evanston’s Prince Adams (4) shoots the ball over Glenbrook North.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

It is that time of the year. It’s that time to start planting some bulletin board material for teams with predictions and scores of the top games of the weekend.

The weekend forecast is back.

Friday

DePaul at Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel is a program trying to inch its way up the Catholic League hierarchy. Taking care of business at home Friday night would do the trick in this early part of the season, especially against a program like DePaul that has become a fixture at or near the top of the league.

The 1-2 punch of senior guard DeAndre Craig and junior Angelo Ciaravino is a potent one for the Caravan. Those two combine to average 32 points a game between them.

When you factor in the addition of Lee Marks, who brings length, energy and athleticism at 6-5, along with steady guard play from Anthony Ciaravino (13 ppg), the Caravan are balanced.

This DePaul team, however, is not the one you will see in the second half of the season. Coach Tom Kleinschmidt’s team is still shorthanded, playing without standout juniors Payton Kamin and Jaylan McElroy –– and lacking size because of it.

Senior guard Maurice Thomas is holding it together for the Rams. He’s leading the team in scoring while several talented youngsters in the program, including sophomore Rob Walls, who is off to a strong start, get their feet wet.

The pick: Mount Carmel 54, DePaul 45

St. Rita at Brother Rice

This is the biggest game of the weekend for multiple reasons.

Brother Rice, ranked, red-hot and at home under first-year coach Conte Stamas, is anxious to make a statement; St. Rita is loaded with talent but in desperate need for a significant win. Something has to give.

Brother Rice is fueled by point guard Ahmad Henderson, a big-moment player who is headed to Niagara. St. Rita needs to –– and should be able to –– pound it inside to 6-9 James Brown and 6-8 Morez Johnson.

This won’t be easy. But it’s time St. Rita rises up and beats down some of the early naysayers with an impressive road win in a key Chicago Catholic League game.

The pick: St. Rita 62, Brother Rice 57

Saturday

Rolling Meadows vs. New Trier at South Elgin

The first significant test for Rolling Meadows, Cameron Christie and the highly-ranked and hyped Mustangs.

New Trier may not be the New Trier of a year ago. But the Trevians are very good and ranked No. 18 for a reason. Jake Fiegen, the tough, physical, 6-4 shooter headed to Cornell, is the leader. He’s already broke the single-season record for most three-pointers in a season. Evan Kanellos is a steady senior guard, 6-4 Logan Feller is a promising junior, and Colby Smith is a sophomore to watch.

But coach Kevin Katovich’s team is more than Christie, the 6-6 star guard headed to Minnesota. There is endless size, length and talent with emerging 6-7 senior Tsvet Sotirov, 6-7 Mark Nikolich-Wilson, 6-5 Foster Ogbonna and 6-7 sophomore Ian Miletic.

Christie and that strong supporting cast is why the Mustangs will pass their first test.

The pick: Rolling Meadows 61, New Trier 53

Curie vs. Mount Carmel at Team Rose Shootout

This nightcap is easily the best of the bunch among Saturday’s lineup of games at the Team Rose Shootout.

A pair of ranked teams square off but each with reality-check losses in the opening part of the season.

Plus, it features coaches –– Mount Carmel’s Phil Segroves and Curie’s Mike Oliver and assistant Larry Wallace –– who have known each other for three decades, dating back to their Curie-Bogan days as high schoolers. They have remained close since.

The backcourt matchup featuring Curie junior Carlos Harris and Mount Carmel’s DeAndre Craig should be fun, while the Public League vs. Catholic League aspect adds to the energy and drama.

Curie hasn’t been Curie just yet, and that’s surprising considering all the experience this team boasts. Mount Carmel takes advantage of that –– and playing on its home floor –– and escapes with a down-to-the-wire win.

The pick: Mount Carmel 62, Curie 60

Hillcrest vs. East St. Louis at St. Louis Ritenour

The Hawks have passed several local measuring sticks, handing three ranked teams –– Bloom, Marian Catholic and Oak Lawn –– their only defeats. But this is a monumental test against one of the better teams and players in Illinois in East St. Louis and Kansas State recruit Macaleab Rich.

East St. Louis is unbeaten and a legitimate threat to reach Champaign in March. Rich is an explosive and fun player to watch while guard Antwan Robinson is another Division I talent headed to Fullerton State.

The pick: East St. Louis 64, Hillcrest 54

Sunday

Evanston vs. Marian Catholic at Team Rose Shootout

A non-conference battle featuring two ranked teams that are coming off tough league losses earlier in the week. Marian Catholic was upset by St. Viator, while Evanston fell to Glenbrook North.

The bad news: The loser of this game will now end up having a rough week.

The good news: No matter the outcome this is the type of game that will make both teams better in their pursuit of a conference championship in their respective leagues.

Marian Catholic’s perimeter attack is its strength, starting with versatile 6-4 Quentin Jones (13.2 ppg) on the wing and senior Tre Davis and crafty Donovan Juzang (10 ppg) in the backcourt. James Bullock, a 6-6 junior, is an emerging player and another double-figure scorer at 11 points a game.

Evanston is big, long and athletic. With that size and length, the defensive and rebounding focus of the Wildkits is at a premium. But senior Prince Adams has taken his game to another level in the early part of the season. The 6-6 forward is putting up 18 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks a game.

Evanston guard Jonah Ross is another double-figure scorer at 10 points a game and has provided much-needed perimeter shooting. Ross hit 7 of 8 from three in a win over St. Viator over Thanksgiving.

This should be a barnburner.

The pick: Evanston 59, Marian Catholic 56

Hillcrest vs. Normal at Team Rose Shootout

The question is how well do the Hawks bounce back from a trip to St. Louis the the night before, particularly if it ends up as a loss? This is a very difficult weekend for coach Don Houston’s team.

Normal isn’t off to a fast start. But there is intrigue in this game due to the 1-2 punch of 6-9 Jaheem Webber and guard Braylon Roman, a pair of juniors with Division I offers.

With three seniors to lean on in 6-9 Darrion Baker, feisty point guard Bryce Tillery and 6-6 Quentin Heady, the Hawks find a way.

The pick: Hillcrest 58, Normal 47

Brother Rice vs. Bloom at Team Rose Shootout

Brother Rice guard Ahmad Henderson is a known commodity. Bloom’s Jordan Brown remains under the radar for all that he does to help his team win.

A big, busy weekend for unbeaten Brother Rice with St. Rita on Friday and Bloom on Sunday. They own a win over Curie already. A sweep this weekend and it’s a marquee statement for the Crusaders.

The pick: Brother Rice 64, Bloom 57

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