Will the Saints march in? They'll soon find out.
St. Charles East hasn't lost in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division since Dec. 7, when it fell 68-58 to St. Charles North to stand at 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the league.
Now at 10-7, 4-2, on Friday St. Charles East its rival, the 10-win North Stars in a pivotal contest that will dictate whether anyone can give Larkin, unbeaten in the River, a run for the money.
"We're looking forward to some home cooking," said Saints coach Patrick Woods. "We've got to make this conference race a little more interesting."
St. Charles East began its River slate on the road against Larkin, St. Charles North and Geneva, beating the Vikings. Now through Feb. 1 the Saints will host each of those foes in addition to road games at Streamwood and UEC crossover foe Metea Valley.
"That'll pretty much dictate how the conference goes, in my opinion," Woods said. "If we can play how we have been as of late, versus how we did at the start of the season, we'll be in the mix. That's what I'm hoping for."
Next up: Last weekend Glenbard North and Wheaton North became the latest teams to fall at the hands of West Aurora, which remains the lone unbeaten team in the DuPage Valley Conference at 5-0.
Now it's Naperville North's turn to take its best shot at the Blackhawks. The Huskies, the only other team to sweep both DVC games last weekend, hit the road on Friday in an attempt to bring the DVC favorite back to the pack.
Glenbard North gave it a go against West Aurora last Friday, and though his team led throughout the first half West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman didn't particularly like what he was seeing.
"Offensively we showed a lack of patience, took a number of bad shots, tried to force the situation a couple times, got called for charging," he said after the game. He also noted Glenbard North's ability to breeze behind the Blackhawks defense for transition baskets.
Despite surrendering the lead briefly in the third quarter West Aurora tightened up its transition defense, fixed a couple things on offense and won 62-56. The next night the Blackhawks handled Wheaton North 67-48.
"Our last three ballgames have pretty much been (close)," Kerkman said after the win at Glenbard North. "We've had two overtimes, now this game. We should pretty well be accustomed to playing under pressure."
Naperville North is 7-0 in games it's held opponents under 50 points including both victories last weekend over Lake Park and Glenbard East. West Aurora has been held below 50 just once, in the Blackhawks' atypical 44-31 win at Wheaton Warrenville South on Dec. 13.
Two-way standout: While Tyler Carlson tied John Pruett with a game-high 16 points in Kaneland's 49-47 win over Marmion Tuesday night, Knights coach Brian Johnson was just as impressed with the senior's work on the defensive end.
Carlson spent much of his time matched against Marmion's top scorer Jake Esp. The 6-foot-5 Esp entered the game on a roll, having followed up an all-tournament selection at the DeKalb Tournament with games of 25, 22, 18 and 22 points.
On Tuesday, Esp didn't score a point in the first half. He finished with 8.
"He's been having a run Ty Carlson has been having," Johnson said of Esp. "Ty hasn't always had a chance to play the other team's best player and I thought he really wanted to get in this game and show he can guard some people. Ty did a great job on him and beat him to spots and made shots tough."
Carlson capped his effort with the game-winning free throws with 1.3 seconds left after also scoring the winning basket at the buzzer last Friday against Morris.
Multisport stars: Two of the top running backs in the Suburban Christian Conference hit the basketball court last Saturday at Marmion. At times guarding one another, Marmion's Jordan Glasgow met St. Edward's Davontae Elam in Marmion's 62-43 victory.
"No. 23 (Elam), one of the best running backs I've ever played against," said Glasgow, who actually was out injured when the Cadets beat St. Edward in football on Sept. 13. "I wanted to see how he would be in basketball, how it would translate, how the athleticism would kind of switch from football to basketball. I was excited to see him in a different sport."
For the record, Glasgow outscored Elam 10-8.
Seeking landmark status: Several area coaches are nearing nice, round numbers.
Aurora Central Catholic's Nathan Drye is just three victories away from 150 in his career. In his 14-year career including the first 12 at Wheaton North, Batavia coach Jim Nazos stands at 196 victories. Marmion needs to win four of the last 10 for Ryan Paradise to reach 50.
When you've coached 38 years as West Aurora's Gordie Kerkman has, century marks are the ones worth counting. Kerkman now has won 769 games, which would probably put him on tap for 800 sometime next season.
Geneva's Phil Ralston has celebrated two milestones this season. He won his 200th game overall on Nov. 30 and won his 100th with Geneva on Dec. 30. The first victory won West Chicago's Thanksgiving tournament and the second won East Aurora's holiday tournament, each coming against the host school.
John Lemon and Kevin Schmit contributed to this report