2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 12/21/2017 4:57 PM

Scouting Fox Valley area holiday tournaments

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  • Jacobs' Kameron Mack blocks a running jump shot by Warren's Jacob Rich earlier this season. Mack and the Golden Eagles open play in the Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs against Marian Central on Friday night.

      Jacobs' Kameron Mack blocks a running jump shot by Warren's Jacob Rich earlier this season. Mack and the Golden Eagles open play in the Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs against Marian Central on Friday night.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer


The Jacobs boys basketball team would prefer not to wait another eight years.

The host Golden Eagles ended an eight-year drought in 2016 by winning the 16-team Hinkle Holiday Classic for the first time since 2008.

Jacobs (6-2) seeks the Hink-peat without graduated star Cameron Krutwig, now a freshman at Loyola. He paced last year's 61-49 title-game victory over Prairie Ridge with a 21-point, 18-rebound, 7-block performance.

The title defense begins with a pool-play game against Marian Central (4-4) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

"Coming back from last year having won it, we really just want to send the message that we're still that good team and we're still those guys," Jacobs senior guard Kameron Mack said. "We have Marian Central and we just want to go in and take care of business."

The tournament begins Friday at 3 p.m. with simultaneous varsity games in two gyms, followed by two games each at 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. All remaining games -- pool play on Saturday and Tuesday Dec. 26, semifinals on Dec. 27 and finals on Dec. 28 -- will be played consecutively in the main competition gym.

Jacobs also has pool-play dates with Kennedy (4-4) and Addison Trail (5-4), the latter a newcomer to the tournament.

Pool II includes Bartlett (3-6), Johnsburg (4-3), Prairie Ridge (2-7) and Payton Prep (5-4).

"It's a great tournament," said Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith, whose team is without leading scorer Ben Tompson indefinitely due to a Dec. 2 ankle injury. "I love the types of teams we face up there. I love the matchups: Johnsburg, Prairie Ridge. I don't know much about the Payton team out of the city, but it's three different types of teams and that's what you want from these tournaments. You want to play some different types of basketball, some zone teams, some pressure teams and some run-and-gun teams to get you ready for the postseason."

Crystal Lake South (4-5) takes on Streamwood (4-6) to open pool play on Saturday at 9 a.m. Those teams will compete in Pool III with Dixon (5-4) and Grant (2-5).

Pool IV features Barrington (6-2), Cary-Grove (4-4), Lakes (3-5) and Rockford Jefferson (8-2). Jefferson was ranked No. 10 in Class 4A in the latest AP poll.

"Jefferson has gotten off to a very, very good start," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "They beat Larkin and played Whitney Young very tough, so they're going to be very good. Barrington has one loss. Bartlett has a lot of kids back. Grant is very good. Overall, I think the tournament looks a little bit better than maybe it did when the year started."

Here's a look at where the rest of the teams from the Fox Valley area are headed for the holiday tournament season.

At Bloomington: Aurora Christian (8-0) will take part in the State Farm Holiday Classic Tournament, which runs Dec. 27-30.

The Eagles open play in the small-school division against Fairbury Prairie Central (4-5) at the Shirk Center at Illinois Wesleyan on Dec. 28 at 1:30 p.m. They match up on the second day against the winner or loser of Annawan vs. Downs Tri-Valley.

Other teams in Aurora Christian's bracket include Winnebago (6-0), Peoria Christian (0-7), El Paso-Gridley (8-1) and Champaign St. Thomas More (3-5).

At DeKalb: South Elgin wants to take the final step at the 90th Annual Chuck Dayton Holiday Classic following last season's runner-up finish to Geneva, which will compete at Wheeling this year.

South Elgin (6-2) was named the No. 1 seed of the four-day tournament, which runs Dec. 27-30. Naperville Central (6-2) is No. 2, followed by Schurz (8-0) and DeKalb (5-2).

The Storm open against Chicago ACE Tech (2-1) on Dec. 27 at 4:45 p.m. They would play the winner or loser of the 3:15 p.m. contest between Lemont (6-4) and Chicago Vocational (3-7).

"I'm happy we got the one seed," second-year South Elgin coach Brett Johnson said. "There was maybe one other team that deserved it: Naperville Central. I think they've played a tougher schedule, but I'm happy with it. I'm excited.

"Chicago Ace Tech, I know what they're going to do. They're going to pressure. We have a possibility of meeting Lemont. I think it's going to be a tough game if we meet them. Then there's DeKalb, Mundelein and Naperville Central. I think it's a really good field. Our half is maybe a little stacked but the goal is to try to get back to where we were at last year, get to the championship game and put ourselves in a position to win it."

Other first-round matchups in the top bracket include coach Al Biancalana's DeKalb Barbs vs. Huntley (1-7) at 6:30 p.m. and Mundelein (6-3) vs. Belvidere North (2-8) at 8 p.m.

Matchups in the bottom bracket are Hampshire (2-6) vs. Ridgewood (5-5) at 9 a.m., Schurz vs Marmion (4-7) at 10:30 a.m., West Chicago (4-4) vs. Harlem (4-6) at 12:15 p.m. and Naperville Central vs. Douglass (0-7) at 1:45 p.m.

"I love that tournament," Huntley coach Will Benson said. "Al runs a great tournament out there. The only other (Fox Valley Conference) team we see out there is Hampshire and he puts us on opposite ends of the bracket. It's a good mix of teams."

At East Aurora: Aurora Central Catholic (3-4) ventures across town for the 52nd Annual East Aurora Holiday Boys Basketball Tournament, a twin-pool round-robin followed by placement games on Dec. 29.

The Chargers play Red-Division games against Neuqua Valley (2-7) on Dec. 26 at 4:30 p.m., East Aurora (1-9) on Dec. 27 at 6:15 p.m. and Argo (1-9) on Dec. 28 at 4:30 p.m.

The Black Division includes Wells (4-6), Joliet Catholic (2-10), Plainfield Central (3-5) and Oswego East (3-5).

At Hinsdale Central: St. Charles East (6-3) is the lone Fox Valley area team competing in the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic, a 16-team, four-day tournament held Dec. 27-30

The Saints make their tournament debut in a prime-time matchup against host Hinsdale Central (2-5) on Dec. 27 at 7 p.m. Next they face the winner or loser of the 8:30 p.m. contest between Marian Catholic (6-1) and Lincoln Park (5-3).

Other first-round matchups: DePaul Prep (8-1) vs. Crete-Monee (7-3), 9:30 a.m.; Homewood-Flosssmoor (5-2) vs. Stevenson (6-4), 11 a.m.; St. Rita (5-6) vs. Westinghouse (3-9), 12:30 p.m.; Maine South (6-2) vs. Richards (5-3), 2 p.m.; Glenbrook North (8-1) vs. Rockford Auburn (6-4), 3:45 p.m.; Bolingbrook (7-1) vs. Urban Prep Englewood (7-0), 5:15 p.m.

At IC Catholic Prep/Westmont: St. Edward (9-1) placed third at the ICCP/Westmont Christmas Classic in 2016 and is among the favorites in the 16-team tournament scheduled for Dec. 26-29.

Led by 6-foot-3 senior A.J. Franklin (21 ppg), the once-beaten Green Wave open against Perspectives Leadership (6-4) in the Westmont bracket on Dec. 26 at 4:30 p.m. Their next game will be against the winner or loser of the preceding matchup between Montini (6-2) and Fenton (1-7).

Last year the Wave defeated Latin and Montini before losing to Perspectives Leadership in a semifinal.

"It's a tough draw, but you don't become a good team unless you play good teams," St. Edward coach P.J. White said. "Hopefully, we're up for the challenge. It's a good tournament and they've ramped it up. It'll be fun to play some teams like that and see where you stack up."

At Marengo: Elgin and Harvest Christian Academy take part in the EC Nichols Holiday Tournament at Marengo, a four-day, 16-team tournament that begins Saturday and continues Dec. 27-29.

Harvest Christian and Elgin could meet in a semifinal if both win twice. Harvest Christian (5-2) opens against Sycamore (0-8) on Saturday at 1 p.m. and would play the winner or loser of the 4:30 p.m. game between Rockford Christian (5-6) and Woodstock North (1-5).

Elgin (1-7) plays Belvidere (1-8) on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Maroons would face the winner or loser of the 7:30 p.m. game between Round Lake (0-8) and Marengo (6-4).

The top-bracket games are Woodstock (3-4) vs. Crystal Lake Central (5-4), 9 a.m.; Genoa-Kingston (4-5) vs. Geneseo (3-6), 10:30 a.m.; Wauconda (2-7) vs. Rochelle (5-4), 12 p.m.; and North Boone (3-5) vs. Richmond-Burton (4-4) at 1:30 p.m.

At Plano: Burlington Central (6-2) is the top seed at the 55th Annual Plano Christmas Classic, a 24-team tournament held Dec. 26-30.

"It was a little unexpected," Burlington Central coach Brett Porto said of being named top seed. "I think that's maybe because of some of the last couple of years' success. I still think this team has to earn that."

The Rockets were the top seed a year ago but lost in the semifinals to Newark 65-57. They claimed third place with a 61-58 win over LaSalle-Peru.

Porto said his team's primary goal in every tournament game will be a consistent four-quarter effort.

"When we play hard and we're locked in we're a pretty tough team," he said, "but we have these lapses and we've had games this year where we didn't do that. I'd like to see that kind of consistent energy and effort."

Central and the rest of the top eight seeds receive byes to Round 2. The Rockets play the winner of Mendota (4-8) vs. No. 16 Morris (1-8) on Dec. 27 at 7 p.m.

Kaneland (2-6) opens tournament play against No. 14 Lisle (3-7) on Dec. 26 at 10:30 a.m. The Knights would then face the winner or loser of Hinckley-Big Rock (3-7) vs No. 11 LaSalle-Peru (3-5).

Newark (7-2) is the No. 2 seed, followed by Hubbard (7-1), 2016 champion Ottawa (4-4), Streator (6-3), Northridge Prep (6-3), Yorkville (4-5) and Sandwich (4-4).

At Pontiac: Several state heavyweights convene at this three-day, 16-team tournament, which takes place Dec. 28-30.

Simeon (6-0) is the top seed at the 87th Pontiac Holiday Tournament, followed by No. 2 Curie (6-1), No. 3 Oak Park-River Forest (7-1) and No. 4 Danville (7-1). All four are ranked among the top six in Class 4A in the latest AP Poll, led by top-ranked Simeon, last year's Class 4A state runner up.

The Pontiac field includes West Aurora (7-1) and St. Charles North (6-3). The Blackhawks open the tournament against Warren (6-4) on Dec. 28 at 9 a.m. They could face Curie in the second round.

"They're pretty solid. They're strong," West Aurora coach Brian Johnson said of Warren. "They've beaten some good teams. They make you work and they have some athleticism, so it's going to be a good 9 a.m. matchup."

Other pairings in the top bracket are Curie vs. Niles West (3-6) at 10:30 a.m., OP-RF vs. Lockport (5-4) at 1 p.m. and Bloomington (7-2) vs. Joliet West (5-4) at 2:30 p.m.

St. Charles North plays Bloom Township (4-5) in the final game on Dec. 28 at 9 p.m. A win would likely mean a matchup against top-ranked Simeon. The Wolverines defeated St. Charles North in triple overtime in 2013, but the North Stars aren't looking ahead.

"Bloom's very good. They're going to be a challenge in themselves," St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said. "You can't look past them at all. They're athletic. I know they're young, but they're very athletic. They just had a very good game against Homewood-Flossmoor where they won. The kids are really hoping we can come through against Bloom so we can get a crack at Simeon."

Other bottom-bracket games matchups: Benet Academy (7-2) vs. Peoria Manual (3-5) at 4 p.m., Danville vs. Plainfield North (4-4) at 6 p.m. and Simeon vs. Pontiac (3-6) at 7:30 p.m.

At Proviso West: Larkin (6-2) returns to one of the state's most prestigious holiday tournaments: the 57th Annual Proviso West Holiday Invitational.

The Royals are in the bottom bracket of the 16-team, four-day event, which runs Dec. 27-30. They open against Kenwood (5-2) on Dec. 27 at 2 p.m. They would play the winner/loser between Uplift (6-4) and Providence St. Mel (4-3), which takes place at 9:30 a.m.

The other two games in the bottom bracket are Fenwick (7-3) vs. Proviso West (2-1) at 12:30 p.m. and Orr (6-2) vs. Morton (4-4) at 7 p.m. Orr is the top-ranked team in Class 2A.

"There's no easy bracket, to be honest," Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. "It's a loaded field. Kenwood, we'll have our hands full for sure. I'll be happy just to be playing in the winner's bracket after getting that draw."

Matchups in the top bracket are Downers Grove North (7-2) vs. St. Joseph (7-2) at 11 a.m., New Trier (7-0) vs. Hillcrest (9-2) at 4 p.m., Proviso East (7-2) vs. Bogan (6-3) at 5:30 p.m. and defending Class 4A state champion Whitney Young (10-1) vs. Longwood (7-6) at 8:30 p.m.

At Wheeling: Geneva joins the Wheeling Hardwood Classic following last year's tournament championship at DeKalb.

The 16-team tournament runs Dec. 27-30.

Geneva (6-3) faces Notre Dame (4-5) in a first-round game on Dec. 27 at 2 p.m. Three top-bracket games precede it: Niles North (8-0) vs. Vernon Hills (2-7) at 9 a.m.; Buffalo Grove (5-4) vs. Dundee-Crown (6-3) at 10:30 a.m.; and Prospect (7-2) vs. Maine West (5-4) at 12:15 p.m.

The bracket's bottom half pits St. Viator (8-1) vs. Glenbrook South (3-6) at 3:45 p.m., Waukegan (5-3) vs. Deerfield (4-6) at 5:30 p.m., Wheeling (3-7) vs. defending Hardwood Classic champion Fremd (8-2) at 7:15 p.m. and Libertyville (5-4) vs. Grayslake Central (5-4) at 8:45 p.m.

At York: It takes two gyms to house the 44th Jack Tosh Holiday Classic, a 32-team, five-day extravaganza held Dec. 26-30.

Batavia (7-1) is the lone Fox Valley area team in the field. The Bulldogs open the tournament against Nazareth (3-5) on Dec. 26 at 3 p.m. Last year they lost the opener against St. Ignatius by a point and won their next three games before a 49-35 loss to Rolling Meadows.

Defending champion Conant (6-4) has won six Jack Tosh Tournament titles since 1996. The field also includes Naperville North (8-0), Schaumburg (3-8), Palatine (7-3), Wheaton North (3-5), Downers Grove South (6-4), Metea Valley (3-5), Glenbard East (5-4), Waubonsie Valley (4-4), Rolling Meadows (4-4), McHenry (6-2), Riverside-Brookfield (4-5), Elk Grove (0-10) and host York (5-4).

At Christian Liberty: Westminster Christian (8-1) plays in the CLA Shootout in Arlington Heights Dec. 28-29. The Warriors will face Morgan Park Academy at 2 p.m. and host Christian Liberty at 6:30 p.m. on the 28th, then CICS Northtown at 12:30 p.m. and North Shore Country Day at 3:30 p.m. the 29th.

All records through games of Dec. 19.

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