Several Fox teams headed to or hosting MLK tournaments this weekend

  • Erik Hill is averaging 15.8 points a game for St. Edward since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him the first five weeks of the season.

      Erik Hill is averaging 15.8 points a game for St. Edward since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him the first five weeks of the season. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Huntley senior Ryan Sroka needs 56 points to reach 1,000.

    Huntley senior Ryan Sroka needs 56 points to reach 1,000. Daryl Quitalig /for Shaw Media Illinois

 
 
Updated 1/16/2020 9:51 PM

It is going to be a busy holiday weekend for some Fox Valley area boys basketball teams.

Martin Luther King Jr. tournaments kicked off Thursday with two games at Burlington Central, which hosts an eight-team, 16-game, four-day event with the championship game on Monday at 5:45 p.m.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Rockets (12-5) welcome a field led by defending champion Waubonsie Valley (16-1) and DuPage Valley Conference leader DeKalb (14-3).

Also competing are Lyons Township (8-6), Woodstock North (11-4), Belvidere North (7-11), Marian Central (2-14) and Johnsburg (4-11).

"It's a really deep field with some really quality teams from all over northern Illinois," Central coach Brett Porto said. "We're looking forward to seeing some different styles and some different teams. It should be a good tournament."

Burlington Central opened with a 64-32 win over Johnsburg Thursday while Woodstock North defeated Belvidere North in overtime.

Geneva hosts its annual six-game MLK Day of Hoops on Monday. The event concludes with the host Vikings (8-8) facing Naperville North (8-8) at 7:30 p.m.

That game is preceded by West Chicago (2-15) vs. Yorkville (8-10) at 11:45 a.m., Elk Grove (2-14) vs. Prairie Ridge (2-16) at 1:15 p.m., Stevenson (13-3) vs. West Aurora (5-12) at 2:45 p.m., Libertyville (10-5) vs. St. Charles North (13-3) at 4:30 p.m. and Metea Valley (7-11) vs. Wheaton North (10-5) at 6 p.m.

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Fox Valley Conference leader Cary-Grove (16-2) travels to Lake Zurich (6-8) Saturday for a second-round tournament game against the host Bears at 1 p.m. A win advances the Trojans to Monday's 2:30 p.m. championship game against either Glenbrook South (15-2) or Mundelein (14-2).

Batavia (7-8) returns to Rockford for the MLK event at Jefferson. The Bulldogs play a Saturday doubleheader against Harlem (7-9) at 1 p.m. and Thornton Fractional South (8-11) at 5:30 p.m. They play twice more on Monday against Guilford (10-7) at 2:30 p.m. and Auburn (10-7) at 7 p.m.

Huntley (14-3) likewise plays twice both Saturday and Monday at the Wheaton Warrenville South MLK Tournament. The Red Raiders, winners of six straight, open bracket play against Lake Forest Academy (6-7) at 2 p.m.

Other first-round games include Schaumburg Christian (4-9) vs. York (15-2) at 9:30 a.m., Plainfield East (3-15) vs. Benet Academy (10-4) at 9:30 a.m., St. Francis (10-8) vs. Rockford East (9-7) at 11 a.m., Glenbard North (4-13) vs. Downers Grove North (9-7) at 11 a.m., Plainfield South (4-13) vs. Morton (9-4) at 12:30 p.m., Joliet Central (8-11) vs. Wheaton Warrenville South (10-7) at 12:30 p.m. and Warren (4-9) vs. Wheaton Academy (10-6) at 2 p.m.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's so well run and there is such a good mix of teams there," Huntley coach Will Benson said. "The team bonding thing was the part I didn't anticipate. My first year the kids said it was really awesome just hanging out between games. It's a fringe benefit you don't really think of."

Coming and going: St. Edward got one scoring leader back from injury right before another was lost for the season.

Erik Hill, the team's top returning scorer at 10.1 ppg, made his season debut on Dec. 26 after an offseason knee injury cost him the first five weeks of the campaign. The junior guard has averaged 15.8 points per game since joining the lineup.

"His return has really made a difference," St. Edward coach Andy Zielinski said. "It has changed the speed and intensity of practice given Erik never lets up in drills. He is a gifted young player with a ton of upside and I am excited to see how he has grown since last year."

Senior JP McGuire picked up much of the scoring slack in Hill's absence. He and Hill played exactly one game together before McGuire tore ankle ligaments against Chicago Legal Prep during the ICCP/Westmont Holiday Tournament on Dec. 27.

McGuire learned last week he will miss the rest of the season due to the injury. The 6-foot-1 guard was averaging a team-best 13.7 ppg for St. Edward (7-12, 1-4). which plays nine of its final 12 games on the road.

"We really have been snakebit with injuries the last two years but our kids keep fighting," Zielinski said. "I am still optimistic about the second half of the season and we have a mix of seniors, juniors and youth."

The Green Wave travel to Westmont (6-12, 1-4) for a Metro Suburban Red tilt Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Matching milestones: Huntley could celebrate two individual milestones in a five-day span.

Uchenna Egekeze, A 6-foot-3 senior, reached the 1,000-point mark Wednesday when he scored 24 points in a 58-42 victory at Hampshire that improved the Red Raiders to 14-3 overall and 7-1 in the Fox Valley Conference.

Close behind Egekeze is fellow three-year varsity performer Ryan Sroka. The 6-5 senior scored 17 points against Hampshire to increase his career total to 944 points.

Sroka, who averages 15.7 ppg, could reach 1,000 on Monday if he scores slightly above his season average in four weekend games at the Wheaton Warrenville South MLK Tournament.

"We knew we had a shot before the season started," Sroka said of the dual milestones. "Obviously, we're not going to just shoot so we can score. We run offense and get our points within the flow of the game. It's nice to be able to contribute to a successful team."

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