holiday tournament observations

by Prez Ro, Matteson, IL

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Here are our holiday observations.... The unbeatens stood out BIG time!

• Simeon (12-0): Won the Pontiac holiday tournament, face nationally-ranked No. 36 Miller Grove in West Virginia on Saturday.

• Andrew (9-0): Won the Kankakee’s holiday tournament, biggest upcoming test could be at Thornwood on Jan. 20.

• Bloom (13-0): Won the McDipper, have plenty of tough games in the future, including at Homewood-Flossmoor on Jan. 24.

• Plainfield East (11-0): Won the Pekin holiday tournament, hosts Wheeling tournament winner Naperville Central on Jan. 17.

• Curie and Warren also fared well at Pontiac, so there's little change at the top of the rankings. But there were surprises aplenty during the wildest week of high school basketball.

• St. Ignatius and Naperville Central each beat two ranked teams to win titles, while a host of under-the-radar teams such as West Aurora, Crete-Monee and Lake Park made statements.

• Proviso Easts' Keith Carter clearly outplayed the state's presumptive No. 1 point guard, Fred Van Vleet, and none of Rockford Auburn's multitude of guards could handle Proviso's pressure.

• New Trier, Hillcrest and St. Joseph also were impressive and are worth monitoring in 2012.


• Instead of a Bloom-Seton battle of unbeatens in the McDipper final, Crete-Monee declared itself a team to reckon with by overcoming Seton in a semifinal and giving a Bloom a battle in the final despite not getting any scoring from Illinois-bound guard Michael Orris until the fourth quarter. Junior Laquon Treadwell's future may be in Division I football, but the 6-4 forward is a beast on the hardwood as well.

Best tournament:
Hands-down.... Pontiac! Having Simeon listed helped, but fans were treated to three overtimes games, two of which went to double overtime, and nearly witnessed Simeon upset by Peoria Manual.

Best games
• Crete-Monee 67, Seton 66, OT at Rich South: In the semifinals, Crete-Monee’s Marvie Keith sank two free throws with 35 seconds left to lift his team to the upset victory. Mark Conner scored 19 points off the bench for Crete-Monee. Crete-Monee squandered a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter to allow overtime.

• Curie 77, Warren 68, 2 OT at Pontiac: In the first Pontiac semifinal, Warren forced a first overtime when JoVaughn Gaines drained a 3-pointer from the corner in the final seconds of regulation and then sent the game into a second overtime when Jon Geske dropped in a late layup. Curie won in the end. Devin Foster had 27 points in the win.

• Simeon 48, Peoria Manual 47 at Pontiac: Not to be outdone by the first semifinal, Simeon and Peoria Manual went down to the buzzer to determine their game. Manual had two shots at overtaking Simeon on its final possession, but missed a shot around the basket and had the ball stolen in the game’s final seconds. The game had 10 lead changes.

• New Trier 61, Homewood-Flossmoor 58 at Proviso West: The second-round matchup was expected to be a good one, and it didn’t disappoint. The game went back and forth until New Trier got hot in the second half and connected on seven 3-pointers in the final quarters. Connor Boehm had 25 points in the win. Tyrone Sherman had 24 points for Homewood-Flossmoor.

• St. Ignatius 47, De La Salle 44, OT at York: In the championship game, St. Ignatius senior Brian Howard sent the game into overtime with an off-balance 3-pointer with four seconds left, and the Wolfpack prevailed in overtime again the tournament favorites.

• St. Ignatius 52, Downers Grove South 50 at York: In the semifinals, St. Ignatius overcame a 12-point deficit to upset Downers Grove South. Abdoulie Contch scored the game-winner in the lane with 1.5 seconds left.

High school basketball interest is still HIGH — Pontiac drew huge crowds, about 6,000 attended Simeon-Young at UIC — so next year's 32-team field at Proviso could renew interest in the prestigious tournament.

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