Scouting Fox area boys basketball holiday tournaments
December holiday tournaments are a measuring stick in the three-month high school basketball season.
After a month to find their rhythm, teams gear up for March-like tests in bracket and round-robin formats at events statewide.
Here's a look at where Fox Valley area boys teams will test their respective mettle in the waning days of 2019.
Tournament play begins Saturday with eight Fox teams in action at Jacobs, Glenbard West and Marengo.
At Bloomington/Normal: Aurora Christian travels downstate for the 41st State Farm Holiday Classic, Dec. 26-28, 30.
The Eagles are among seven teams in the small-school bracket that won regional championships a year ago. No. 4 Aurora Christian (4-1) opens tournament play against No. 13 Stanford Olympia (2-6) on Dec. 26 at 10:30 a.m.
At Christian Liberty Academy: Westminster Christian (1-7) plays four games over two days, Dec. 27-28. The Warriors begin bracket play against Walther Christian (4-5) on Dec. 27 at 11:30 a.m.
At DeKalb: Dundee-Crown, Huntley and defending champion Oswego return to the 92nd Annual Chuck Dayton Classic, Dec. 26-28 and 30.
Huntley (6-2) is led by 2018 all-tournament pick Ryan Sroka. The Red Raiders open bracket play against Schurz (5-4) on Dec. 26 at 10:30 a.m.
Dundee-Crown (4-3) won the 2018 consolation championship. The Chargers square off against Belvidere North (4-5) Dec. 26 at noon.
At East Aurora: Aurora Central Catholic (4-4) opens pool play against host East Aurora Monday at 6:05 p.m. The Chargers face Neuqua Valley on Dec. 26 and Downers Grove North (5-2) on Dec. 27, both at 4:10 p.m. Tournament play concludes Dec. 28.
At Glenbard West: Marmion (1-7) tangles with host Glenbard West (6-1) Saturday at 7:45 p.m. The Cadets play round-robin games against Glenbard North (3-5) on Monday at 6:15 p.m. and Chicago Agricultural/Science (8-2) on Dec. 26 at 4:30 p.m. The 18th annual tournament concludes Dec. 27.
At Jacobs: Defending champion Cary-Grove (7-1) is a threat to repeat at the Hinkle Holiday Tournament, which begins Saturday and continues Dec. 23, 26-28.
Led by 6-foot-8 senior Frank Jakubicek (Belmont) and senior scoring guard Beau Frericks (Lewis), the Trojans open tournament play against up-tempo Streamwood (4-4) Saturday at 3 p.m. Both teams will play pool-play matchups against Barrington (6-1) and Johnsburg (2-4).
Host Jacobs (6-2) and South Elgin (3-5) will play round-robin games against Grayslake Central (2-6) and Marian Central (1-5).
Title contender Waubonsie Valley (7-0) is pooled with Grant (2-7), Payton Prep (2-6) and Prairie Ridge (0-8).
Defending Fox Valley Conference co-champion Crystal Lake South (4-5) faces Bartlett (2-7) Monday at 9 a.m. Rockford Jefferson (7-2) and Chicago Prosser (1-7) round out Pool IV.
"I think we have some good teams again: Cary-Grove, Waubonsie Valley, Barrington," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "Crystal Lake South is a good team. Hopefully, we're a good team. I think we have a lot of teams with an opportunity to possibly win the thing."
At Hinsdale Central: St. Charles East (5-2) is part of a 16-team field that includes Stevenson (8-1), St. Rita (7-2), Oswego East (6-3) and Homewood-Flossmoor (6-1). The Saints open against Lincoln-Way Central (6-2) on Dec. 23 at 11 a.m. The tournament continues Dec. 26-28.
At Marengo: Hampshire and Harvest Christian Academy play at the 70th E.C. Nichols Holiday Tournament, which begins Saturday and continues Dec. 23, 27-28.
Hampshire (5-3) was the runner-up to tournament champion Crystal Lake Central last season. First-year coach Mike Featherly's Whip-Purs are 4-0 in the Fox Valley Conference. They have won five straight since an 0-3 start. Hampshire opens the tournament against Harvard (1-5) Saturday at 9 a.m.
Harvest Christian Academy (2-5) faces host Marengo (8-1) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Lions have won two of their last three games.
At Plano: Burlington Central and Kaneland will take part in the 57th Annual Plano Christmas Classic, Dec. 26-28, 30.
Central (5-3) placed third last season after losing to eventual champion Peoria Notre Dame in a semifinal. The Rockets are the No. 2 seed behind the Irish (8-0). They open against Mendota (1-10) on Dec. 26 at 12:30 p.m. If seeds hold, Central would face No. 3 Yorkville Christian (8-1) in a semifinal.
Central coach Brett Porto said he appreciates the dependable Plano crowd that fills the stands for the championship round. "Any time you get a chance to go where a lot of the community comes out to watch basketball and pack the stands, we'll be there until they tell us we can't come back anymore," Porto said.
Kaneland (4-2) aims to improve on last season's 11th-place finish. The Knights tip off the entire tournament against Coal City (3-5) Dec. 26 at 9 a.m.
At Pontiac: St. Charles North and West Aurora return to the 89th Pontiac Holiday Tournament. The loaded field includes No. 1 seed Bloom (8-1), No. 2 Curie (5-0), No. 3 Simeon (3-2) and No. 4 Peoria Manual (7-2).
St. Charles North (8-1) and Bradley-bound center Connor Linke open the three-day extravaganza against New Trier (5-4) on Dec. 26 at 4 p.m. West Aurora (3-6) follows against state contender Curie at 6 p.m.
At Proviso West: Larkin returns to Hillside for the 59th Annual Proviso West Holiday Tournament, Dec 26-29. The Royals (1-8) open against Fenwick (8-1) on Dec. 26 at 2 p.m. The field includes 2018 champion Bogan (9-1) and Hillcrest (5-3).
At Wheeling: Champion Geneva defends its Wheeling Hardwood Classic title, joined by newcomer Elgin.
The Vikings (5-2) launch their title defense against Maine West (2-5) Monday at 10:30 a.m. That game is preceded by the tournament opener between Elgin (3-6) and Libertyville (6-2) at 9 a.m.
At York: Batavia competes in the 46th Jack Tosh Holiday Classic in Elmhurst. The Bulldogs play Andrew (6-3) on Dec. 26 at 3:30 p.m. Also in the 32-team field are Schaumburg (9-1), Glenbard East (5-2) Bolingbrook (6-3), St. Patrick (7-1) and York (7-1).
At ICCP/Westmont: St. Edward takes part in this 16-team tournament played at two venues Dec. 26-28 and 30.
The Green Wave (5-5) open bracket play against Eisenhower (6-3) at Westmont on Dec. 26 at 3 p.m. Other participants include Tinley Park (6-4) and Taft (7-3).