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2013-'14 Season Coverage
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Article updated: 1/9/2014 8:57 PM
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Larkin-Benet leads list of rescheduled games
 

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Larkin-Benet leads list of rescheduled games
  • Larkin's Kendale McCullum is trailed by Geneva's Nate Navigato in an Upstate Eight River game at Geneva last month.

    Purchase Photo | Larkin's Kendale McCullum is trailed by Geneva's Nate Navigato in an Upstate Eight River game at Geneva last month. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 

Most of Tuesday's boys basketball games canceled by the extreme cold in the Fox Valley area have been rescheduled, including a meeting between teams ranked in the Daily Herald Top 20.

No. 5 Larkin's nonconference test at No. 8 Benet Academy (8-4) is now slated for Saturday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. It will be the second game in two nights for the Redwings and 6-foot-9 Xavier-bound senior Sean O'Mara. Benet hosts Notre Dame on Jan. 17, while Larkin is idle.

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South Elgin (9-6), which has won 5 straight, was scheduled to host No. 12 Geneva (13-3) on Tuesday. That game has been moved to Saturday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m.

No. 16 Crystal Lake South (11-2) will host District 155 rival Prairie Ridge (8-6) on Monday at 7 p.m.

A makeup date has yet to be finalized for the postponed nonconference meeting between No. 2 Fremd (13-0) and No. 13 Huntley (8-4). That game could get moved to February, according to Huntley coach Marty Manning.

Star-filled Valley: The Fox Valley Conference's Valley Division boasts its share of marquee players this season, but the contributions of each star's supporting cast will likely determine the order of finish, said one league coach.

The league has standouts like Huntley forward Amanze Egekeze (18.8 ppg, 9 rpg), Crystal Lake South guard Austin Rogers (22.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg), Cary-Grove guard Jason Gregoire (20.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Jacobs guard Chrishawn Orange (14.1 ppg, 2.3 apg) and Prairie Ridge guard Michael Bradshaw, who averaged 17 points en route to all-tournament honors at the Hinkle Holiday Classic along with Rogers, Gregoire and Orange.

"Because there are a lot of good players in the league I think it will be decided by whichever team and whichever complementary players get up for a particular game," Crystal Lake South coach Matt LePage said. "Gregoire, Egekeze, Bradshaw -- those guys can carry teams -- but who are going to be the other players who come to play that night and really boost their team with scoring or rebounding? That will dictate who wins the conference."

LePage has strong complimentary players in 6-4 senior guard Chris Mahoney and 6-1 senior guard Caleb Johnson, among others. Mahoney is averaging 9.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. He also leads the Gators with 73.5-percent free-throw accuracy (25 of 34).

Johnson averages 8.4 points per game, thanks to his uncanny eye from 3-point range. He leads the area in 3-point field-goal percentage (56.3) after sinking 18 of 32 attempts.

"(Johnson) is one of the players who benefits from double and triple-teaming of Rogers by opposing defenses," LePage said. "Rogers is averaging about 4 assists a game. That can't change if we're going to be successful. He can't stop looking for people."

Royal watching: Comcast's High School Game of the Week spotlight's Friday's Upstate Eight Conference clash in Naperville between defending River Division champion Larkin and defending Valley Division champion Neuqua Valley. Each won its respective UEC division by 2 games last season.

No. 5 Larkin (13-2) is led by senior guard Kendale McCullum (12.8 ppg, 6.2 apg) and senior forward Drew Jones (12.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg). The Royals are coming off a third-place finish at the Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs after dropping a competitive semifinal game against Zion-Benton.

No. 15 Neuqua Valley (10-3) was upended by Geneva in a semifinal of the East Aurora Holiday Tournament but rebounded to rout Prosser for third place. Junior Connor Raridon (6-4) scored 19 points in that game and senior Josh Piotrowski (6-0) had 18 to lead the Wildcats.

The delayed broadcast will air on Sunday at noon and 4 p.m. and again on Monday at 7 p.m.

Rebounding wish Grant-ed: Senior Robert Grant's ability to control the boards down the stretch was a key factor in Jacobs' 53-50 victory over McHenry in Algonquin Wednesday.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound forward grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds, including 6 in a fourth quarter that featured five lead changes.

Grant, who transferred from South Elgin last fall after Jacobs had already concluded summer-league play, has 55 rebounds in 12 games (4.6 avg.). He hauled down 177 rebounds (6.6 avg.) for the Storm as a junior.

"Robert is a huge asset in our league," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "There are just very few guys physically who can match up with him. When he's in there, you fell pretty positive he's going to come down with it. That's a huge contribution."

Warriors on the mend: Westminster Christian coach Bruce Firchau's team has been hit so hard by injury and illness that his full roster has not been available since the Saturday practice before the season began.

Sophomore guard Robert Kleczynski returns this week from a separated shoulder suffered in the third game of the season against St. Edward. His freshman brother, Nick Kleczynski, had three teeth knocked loose in the Marengo tournament opener and missed several games. Another player has missed time with pneumonia.

"I don't know if I've ever had a tougher stretch where we've just been without players," said Firchau, an IHSBCA hall of farmer in his 37th year of coaching. "Once we get all the pieces together, we will change dramatically."

The Warriors (6-8 overall, 1-2 Northeastern Athletic) get a midseason boost on Jan. 14 when 5-11 guard Paul Ellerbusch becomes eligible. The senior transfer from St. Charles North is expected to make an immediate impact with his speed, which matches that of Robert Kleczynski, Firchau said. Meanwhile, 6-4 senior Sam Carani has been carrying the load.

"Sammy Carani has really emerged as a standout player," Firchau said. "He's averaging 19.7 points per game. He has put the team on his back."

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