2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 1/18/2018 5:19 PM

The best 'When Sides Collide' yet?

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  • West Chicago's Jordan Wilkins (23) guards Glenbard East's Korvante Davis (20) during boys basketball action in Lombard.

      West Chicago's Jordan Wilkins (23) guards Glenbard East's Korvante Davis (20) during boys basketball action in Lombard.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 

Boys basketball fans will find no better deal than Saturday's seventh annual "When Sides Collide Shootout" at Glenbard East.

Five dollars gains admission to five games tipping off between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. featuring some of the state's top teams.

"I think this one is by far the best field, the best depth from top to bottom, without a doubt, with the best matchups," said Glenbard East coach Scott Miller, who starts to assemble the field nearly a year in advance with his cousin, Joe Henricksen of the City/Suburban Hoops Report.

Initially a three-game exhibition, after a couple years it moved to four. This is the first with five games.

Scheduled an hour and a half apart, the action kicks off at 1 p.m. with DePaul versus Evanston. Following are Glenbard East vs. Downers Grove North, Whitney Young against Bloomington, Fenwick vs. Morgan Park and the 7 p.m. nightcap, Romeoville against West Aurora.

Six of these teams are ranked locally, with Bloomington -- third in Class 3A in 2016 -- out of the metropolitan area but receiving votes in the latest Associated Press Class 4A poll. Bloomington's foe Saturday, Whitney Young, is the defending Class 4A champion.

The 5:30 p.m. game between Fenwick and Morgan Park -- No. 1 in Class 3A by The Associated Press -- revisits the 2017 Class 3A championship won by Morgan Park 69-67 in overtime.

Though injury looks to sideline Morgan Park's Ayo Dosunmu, the No. 1 recruit in the state's Class of 2018 headed to Illinois, there's plenty of firepower in such players as Morgan Park's Tamell Pearson, Whitney Young's Xavier Castaneda, Justin Boyd and Javon Freeman-Liberty, Fenwick's D.J. Steward and Bloomington's Chris Payton.

Regarding the DuPage County teams, Miller looks forward to Glenbard East (7-10) facing Downers North (9-6).

"I think it'll be a good one," he said. "We've been playing them the last few years, nonconference, and we were able to beat them in overtime two years ago. They took it to us last year. I feel like they're a real good team, (coach) Jim (Thomas) has done a great job with them."

York's Erik Cohn (32) takes a shot between Benet's Ben Cooney (5) and Will Engels (23) during the semifinals of the 6th annual MLK Wheaton Warrenville South boys basketball tournament on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.
  York's Erik Cohn (32) takes a shot between Benet's Ben Cooney (5) and Will Engels (23) during the semifinals of the 6th annual MLK Wheaton Warrenville South boys basketball tournament on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. - Mark Black | Staff Photographer
One way...:

By Monday night York had to be one tired team.

The Dukes (12-7) played five games in four days including three in less than 24 hours on Friday and Saturday. Not only did they survive, but they thrived.

First York beat Hinsdale Central in West Suburban Silver play, then the Dukes went 3-1 in the Wheaton Warrenville South MLK Tournament. Included in the whirlwind was an overtime victory against the host Tigers and a tough 37-36 semifinal loss to tournament champion Benet.

York ended the tournament on a high note by rolling to a 62-40 win over Notre Dame in the third-place game.

"Five games in three days is a challenge, but the kids were excited," said York coach Vince Doran. "They're kids. We do this kind of thing in the summer, so they're used to it."

On top of the obvious grind, York was forced to shorten its rotation in three of the games. Against WW South the Dukes used seven players but only six saw the bulk of the playing time.

York started the tournament with a blowout win Saturday morning over U-High, allowing the Dukes to go deep into their bench. Plenty of players saw action in the Notre Dame game, too.

Regardless of the grind, York is already looking forward to next year's event.

"That first game (against U-High) was key for us because we were able to rest guys," Doran said. "This is a tournament of toughness, and I love it. We've been coming here since it started. It's so competitive. I really think it makes you better to play the five games in three days."

Benet's Noah Ferrell (42) make a shot against York during the semifinals of the 6th annual MLK Wheaton Warrenville South boys basketball tournament on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.
  Benet's Noah Ferrell (42) make a shot against York during the semifinals of the 6th annual MLK Wheaton Warrenville South boys basketball tournament on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. - Mark Black | Staff Photographer
...or another:

Benet (14-4) didn't play all week leading up to the Wheaton Warrenville South MLK Tournament, and the time for rest and preparation paid off. The Redwings won four games on Saturday and Monday to claim the tournament championship for the first time.

"To have a chance to be in the final four and then to play two quality teams and come out on top, it's just a nice step for these guys," said Redwings coach Gene Heidkamp.

In past years the Redwings played East Suburban Catholic Conference games leading up to the WW South event. Last year they lost to St. Patrick on a Friday. The year before they played Notre Dame twice in five days, beating the Dons in ESCC play and losing in the WW South title game.

This year the ESCC scheduled no league games on Friday and just one on Thursday. Five conference teams competed in MLK events last weekend, and all of them had time to prepare for the game load.

With their second tournament championship of the season now in the books, the Redwings are putting their focus on ESCC play. It starts with Friday's trip to powerhouse Marist (18-1).

"We're in the home stretch of the season," Heidkamp said. "Hopefully, we can continue to play better as the year goes on."

Back in action:

Metea Valley junior Ethan Helwig, who missed the Mustangs' nonconference win Tuesday over Glenbard West, should be back in the lineup Friday at Glenbard North.

A 6-foot-3 guard, Helwig had been "feeling under the weather, so he rested that game," said his father, Craig.

Ethan Helwig, who has made 35 3-pointers on solid 36-percent shooting from the arc, averages a team-high 15.2 points. His 5.1 rebounds are second to forward Manny Hess' 5.9 for Metea (8-8, 3-4 DuPage Valley Conference).

Tuesday's absence could have been caused by something as simple as poor diet over the holidays, Craig Helwig said.

"He's been checked, he's been cleared," he said. "He'll have no limitations going forward. We're looking forward to getting him back on the court and resuming his season."

Interstate Eight Tournament:

The annual boys Interstate Eight Conference Tournament begins Friday. Earning top-four seeds, both No. 4 Lisle and No. 2 Westmont earned first-round byes into Saturday at host Coal City.

Still, things could quickly get sticky. Westmont (13-3) has dropped its last two IEC contests, to No. 6 Seneca and No. 1 Herscher. If the seeds hold Lisle (10-9) would face No. 5 Manteno and, if successful, No. 1 Herscher -- both of whom dealt Lisle its conference losses.

Lisle has won its last six games. One reason is the solidifying play of St. Joseph transfer Elisha Basnight, a 6-2 junior second to Jay McGrath in scoring for Lisle and third in rebounds behind Devin Tincu and McGrath.

Basnight has played in every varsity game but also found two early junior varsity games invaluable to help learn coach Mark LaScala's system.

"I think your teammates are much more willing to accept you when you're a hard worker, and he's exactly that," LaScala said of Basnight, who said "the legendary coach (Gene) Pingatore" stressed the importance of teamwork in Basnight's two years in Westchester.

"I'm really starting to love it now, just how we're starting to bond as a team," Basnight said after he joined Tincu and Cameron Stitt all with 10 points in Tuesday's 56-77 win over Coal City. "I think that's why we're starting to get on this winning streak."

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