From Wheeling to Pinckneyville and Plano to Proviso West, DuPage County boys basketball teams will span the state to compete in holiday tournaments.
Here's a look at what's to come in the next week and a half.
Proviso West: Dec 22 and Dec. 26-31
The Field: Benet, Bogan, Crespi Carmelite (Cal.), CICS Ralph Ellison, Downers Grove South, Dunbar, Fenwick, Foreman, Glenbard East, Glenbrook North, Hillcrest, Hinsdale Central, Homewood-Flossmoor, Lincoln Park, Maine South, Manley, Morgan Park, Morton, Nazareth, New Trier, Oswego, Proviso East, Proviso West, Rockford Auburn, St. Charles East, St. Joseph, Stevenson, T.F. South, Urban Prep West, Von Steuben, Westinghouse, Wheaton Academy.
The Favorites: Homewood-Flossmoor, Morgan Park, Oswego, Proviso East.
The Darkhorse: Benet.
The Scoop: Expanding from 16 to 32 teams makes Proviso West more of a handful than ever. Crespi Carmelite from California is the first out-of-state school to compete at the 52-year tournament, and it'll be a strong competitor. The focus, however, is on the top Illinois teams. A championship matchup between Morgan Park and Proviso East is much anticipated, but too many obstacles loom for both teams. The question for the area is whether Benet, with 6-foot-9 Sean O'Mara, or Glenbard East can survive to challenge the heavy hitters.
Quotable: "We got an invite and we thought it'd be a real memorable experience for the players," said Wheaton Academy coach Paul Ferguson. "And we thought it'd be an opportunity to play some of the best competition in the Chicagoland area."
Glenbard West: Dec. 26-29
The Field: Fenton, Glenbard West, Hubbard, Leyden, St. Francis, Timothy Christian, West Chicago, Willowbrook.
The Favorites: Glenbard West, St. Francis.
The Darkhorse: Willowbrook.
The Scoop: Glenbard West may not have the state-ranked talent of Proviso West, but it's consistently one of the more competitive area tournaments. Glenbard West rates an edge with a lightning lineup led by sophomore Keith Hayes and Corey Davis. St. Francis suffered its first loss last week against Walther Lutheran and could meet the Hilltoppers in the final. Willowbrook, making its first Glenbard West appearance, has gotten off to a slow start but has the talent to shake up the brackets with Josh Joiner and Tiger Greene.
Quotable: "The tournament changes a little each year, but I think we still have a good field," said Glenbard West coach Tim Hoder. "It allows schools to play teams they don't normally play."
York: Dec. 26-29
The Field: Conant, Holy Trinity, Kenwood, Lane Tech, Lyons Twp., Naperville North, Palatine, Riverside-Brookfield, St. Ignatius, UIC Prep, Waubonsie Valley, York.
The Favorites: St. Ignatius, York.
The Darkhorse: Naperville North.
The Scoop: Historically a bracketed 16-team tournament, this season the Jack Tosh tourney's going to pool play. Next year York coach Vince Doran plans to expand the field to 32 teams. Despite key departures in Maine South and Downers South, the top eight seeds each could see success. Top-seeded St. Ignatius suffered its only loss on Saturday to Benet, but York is sure to press the Wolfpack on its home court with Colorado State-bound David Cohn. Waubonsie Valley's Jared Brownridge, headed to Santa Clara, is the kind of player who can lead the Warriors to the title.
Quotable: "It'll be different, but we've put together an exciting set of pools," Doran said. "The games are good right off the bat."
Hinsdale South: Dec. 26-29
The Field: Brother Rice, Glenbrook South, Graves County (Ky.), Highland Park, Hinsdale South, Lake Forest, Metea Valley, Minooka, Providence, Rolling Meadows, Sandburg, St. Patrick, Schaumburg, Stagg, Wheaton North, WW South.
The Favorites: Lake Forest, St. Patrick.
The Darkhorse: Metea Valley.
The Scoop: An extremely deep field may be headed by Lake Forest and St. Patrick, but Brother Rice, Stagg and others could vie for the title. Eighth-seeded Metea Valley's path is tough right off the bat with Glenbrook South, an opening-round showdown that could lead to a second-round matchup with top-seeded Lake Forest. Considering the Mustangs are the defending champions, however, they could make a run. They've survived a brutal early schedule against Proviso East, Oswego and others, and they're riding a five-game winning streak.
Quotable: "We struggled early and I'm proud of how we've gotten better each game and guys are stepping up and defining their roles and getting results," said Metea Valley coach Bob Vozza. "And getting better at the same time."
Wheeling: Dec. 26-29
The Field: Alcott, Carmel, Deerfield, Fremd, Lake Park, Libertyville, Loyola, Maine West, Naperville Central, Niles North, Notre Dame, Prospect, St. Viator, Streamwood, Vernon Hills, Wheeling.
The Favorites: Notre Dame, Loyola, St. Viator.
The Darkhorse: Naperville Central.
The Scoop: Notre Dame has been red hot so far, and the Dons rate an edge over Loyola as a favorite. Don't forget about Naperville Central, though. The key elements of last year's team that won the Hardwood Classic return headed by 6-foot-9 junior center Nick Czarnowski. The strength of the East Suburban Catholic Conference will be in full view with St. Viator adding to the depth of the field. Like every other area tournament, Wheeling lost a couple of key teams to Proviso West. A handful of top teams remain to compete for the title.
Quotable: "We're going to try and repeat," said Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer. "A lot of the kids who won it last year are back."
East Aurora: Dec. 26-29
The Field: Aurora Central, Belvidere North, East Aurora, Geneva, Neuqua Valley, Oswego East, Peoria Central, Pleasure Ridge (Ky.).
The Favorites: Peoria Central, Neuqua Valley.
The Darkhorse: Geneva.
The Scoop: Despite little experience and a slow start to the season, Peoria Central, the defending Class 3A champion, is an obvious choice as favorite. Neuqua Valley and Sean Davis remain unbeaten and should be charged up after leaving the Elgin tournament. Pleasure Ridge is the big unknown coming from Kentucky, but the Panthers' only loss is by 2 points and they're averaging 78 points a game. Geneva's battled through a widespread injury bug while suffering its only loss to St. Charles East. Can Aurora Central surprise them all?
Quotable: "I like our defense," said Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton. "The team is really focusing their energy to the defensive end of the court. It is nice to see."
Elgin: Dec. 26-29
The Field: Batavia, Buffalo Grove, Centennial (Nev.), Dundee-Crown, Elgin, Englewood, F.W. Parker, Glenbard North, Harlan, Hoffman Estates, Islamic Foundation, Larkin, Raby, Rockford East, Rockford Guilford, Walther Lutheran.
Immaculate Conception/Westmont: Dec. 26-29
The Field: Elmwood Park, Evergreen Park, Immaculate Conception, Latin, Morgan Park Academy, Northside Prep, St. Edward, Westmont.
Pinckneyville: Dec. 26-29
The Field: Benton, DuQuoin, Jerseyville, Lawrenceville, Montini, Olney, Pinckneyville, Red Bud, Steeleville, Teutopolis, Tolono Unity, Trenton Wesclin.
Plano: Dec. 22 and Dec. 26-29
The Field: Aurora Christian, Belvidere, Burlington Central, Coal City, Dixon, Forreston, Genoa Kingston, Hinckley-Big Rock, Indian Creek, Kaneland, Lisle, Mendota, Morris, Newark, Ottawa, Plano, Princeton, Rockford Christian, Sandwich, Seneca, Somonauk, Streator, Wilmington, Yorkville.
Romeoville: Dec. 26-29
The Field: Addison Trail, Argo, Chicago Christian, Crane, Fenger, Glenbard South, Joliet Catholic, Lemont, Little Village, Perspectives, Plainfield Central, Reavis, Ridgewood, Romeoville, University High, UP Bronzeville.
-- Kevin Schmit