Scouting Jim Hinkle Holiday Classic

  • Damari Wheeler-Thomas is averaging 21 points a game for Larkin heading into the Jim Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs.

    Damari Wheeler-Thomas is averaging 21 points a game for Larkin heading into the Jim Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs. Daily Herald file photo

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/17/2021 8:55 PM

Jacobs Hinkle tourney

What has long been established as one of the area's marquee and most-looked-forward-to Christmas tournaments kicks off Saturday.


The five-day Jim Hinkle Holiday Classic hosted by H.D. Jacobs High School begins with a full slate of games starting at 3 p.m., in Algonquin. The 16-team tournament, broken into four four-team pools, is loaded with area talent.

In addition to the host Golden Eagles, the Hinkle Classic features Bartlett, Cary-Grove, Streamwood, South Elgin, Crystal Lake South and Larkin.

"We have a great group of programs and coaches," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "After a year hiatus, we are excited to have everyone back in our gyms for the five days. It's nice having all of the lower levels in one place over the holidays."

Roberts explained the Jacobs format is unique in that pool play leads into two days of bracket play. "We like it," he said. "You can prepare for your first three games and everyone is guaranteed five games."

In terms of the field? Loyola Academy and Larkin are new additions. Loyola is coached by Roberts' good friend Tom Livatino. "We have some high-level teams with Loyola, Larkin, Barrington and Bartlett. They are all very talented and off to strong starts," Roberts said.

Waubonsie Valley, several area coaches added, is among the top teams in the field as well.

Larkin, averaging 71 points a game, is led by Damari Wheeler-Thomas (21 ppg, 5 apg, 5 spg), Fernando Perez (19 ppg, 7 rpg, 3 apg) and Jakob Blakely (15 ppg). Crystal Lake South, which got off to a 4-0 Fox Valley Conference start, is paced by Isaiah Kirkeeng (17 ppg, 9 rpg), Arnav Jain (15.8 ppg) and Cooper LePage (13 ppg, 7 rpg, 6 apg). Mike Clark, Zack Bauer and sophomore Jake Hornok have had the hot hand for Cary-Grove of late. Richard Santiago (14 ppg) and Cris Calderon (12 ppg) pace Streamwood, while short-handed Jacobs, slowed by injuries, had Brett Schlicker hit for 20 points recently against Crystal Lake South.

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