St. Charles East getting healthy at the right time

Updated 2/22/2018 9:18 PM
  • Jacobs' Ryan Phillips, center, had the stitches removed from his right hand earlier this week but the status of the Golden Eagles' standout, who broke a bone on Feb. 8, is still week-to-week according to coach Jimmy Roberts.

      Jacobs' Ryan Phillips, center, had the stitches removed from his right hand earlier this week but the status of the Golden Eagles' standout, who broke a bone on Feb. 8, is still week-to-week according to coach Jimmy Roberts. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

The St. Charles East boys basketball team is trending upward at the right time.

The Saints (17-9), who host Foreman (14-10) in Friday's regular-season finale, have won 7 of 9 games since a triple-overtime loss at Geneva on Jan. 19.

East avenged that loss to the Vikings with Wednesday's 55-43 home win.

The better news for Saints fans? Reinforcements are on the way ahead of next week's Class 4A playoff opener at Dundee-Crown.

St. Charles East has played the bulk of its season without two players coach Patrick Woods considers among the top six in the rotation: senior guard Jude Clodi and junior point guard Charles Murphy.

Clodi returned Wednesday from a dislocated foot suffered at the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic. The team's sixth man had been playing at a high level when he went down, his coach said.

Murphy broke his leg in a Dec. 22 victory over West Aurora. The 42-percent shooter from 3-point range returned to practice this week.

"Charles just started practicing so I'm unsure of his timeline," Woods said Thursday. "You might see him or you might not. He's a very good on-ball defender and, as our point guard, he ran the show. We had to change that up after (the injury)."

Zach Robinson and Justin Hardy have been bringing the ball up for the Saints in Murphy's absence.

No. 3. St. Charles East opens the postseason on Tuesday in Carpentersville against the winner of Monday's play-in game between No. 6 Dundee-Crown (14-11) and No. 11 Hampshire (5-22).

Medical update: Jacobs guard Ryan Phillips had the stitches removed from his right hand on Monday, coach Jimmy Roberts said.

The 6-foot-3 senior had surgery on Feb. 8 to insert a plate and screws to repair a broken metacarpal bone in his right ring finger. The returning all-area guard averages 14.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

"We're on a week-to-week basis here," Roberts said Thursday. "We want to get him back as soon as possible."

Jacobs' fifth-year coach said Phillips will see his doctor again "sometime next week."

Jacobs (23-3, 15-0) concludes the regular season at rival Dundee-Crown Friday with an opportunity to complete an undefeated Fox Valley Conference record. It would mark the third time in four seasons the Golden Eagles have won the FVC without a setback.

In fact, Jacobs has won 50 of 51 FVC games over the past four seasons, including the last 25 straight since a 50-41 loss to Prairie Ridge on Jan. 14, 2017.

Stepping up: Batavia snapped Burlington Central's school-record 20-game winning streak last Saturday with a 64-62 win, but the Class 4A Bulldogs came away impressed by a team ranked No. 9 team in Class 3A at the time.

"They are so well disciplined, well coached. Just an all-around team," said Batavia senior guard Riley Cooper, who sank a key 3-pointer down the stretch for the second straight game. "They can go inside, they can play defense, they mix up their defense. They're tough to guard, honestly. They're real tough to guard. We just did a good job of finding people and making plays and making shots."

Central junior Patrick Mayfield scored a career-best 34 points in the loss, including a 3-pointer with five seconds left to draw the Rockets within 2 points.

"They're hard to guard," Batavia coach Jim Nazos reiterated. "Obviously, Mayfield is."

Doing it on both ends: Area fans are aware Larkin senior Anthony Lynch can score. The 6-foot-3 guard is averaging 19 ppg for the Upstate Eight River champs.

What goes somewhat unnoticed is Lynch's defense. Larkin coach Deryn Carter often assigns Lynch to one of the other team's best scorers. In recent weeks he has guarded St. Charles East senior Justin Hardy, Geneva point guard Jack McDonald and Batavia guard Eric Peterson, among others.

"Since Christmas he has taken on the big-time defensive assignments," Carter said, "all while being asked to score 20 a game and play 30 minutes. He's helped us win at a high level."

Friday Night Lights: West Aurora was originally scheduled to be idle Friday ahead of Tuesday's Class 4A playoff opener at Plainfield South.

Chicago area winter weather scrapped that plan.

West Aurora (20-4, 9-0) welcomes East Aurora (5-21, 2-7) for the 225th edition of the rivalry series on Friday at 7 p.m. The game slated for Feb. 9 was postponed due to snow.

Blackhawks coach Brian Johnson said the intensity of a rivalry game is good preparation for Tuesday's regional semifinal against either No. 15 Waubonsie Valley (12-17) or No. 20 Plainfield South (3-24).

"It kind of simulates what the state tournament is as far as playing, then having a day or two to prepare for the next game," said Johnson, whose team has won 12 straight. "I would have liked to have played it as scheduled because people were prepared to come out for the game and now some people have other things are going on."

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