Several Lake County teams hit the road for holiday tournaments
Lake County area boys basketball teams are headed to places such as Collinsville, Pekin, Centralia and Pontiac next week -- here, there and everywhere.
To wit, Carmel, Lake Zurich, Mundelein and Warren will rack up a combined 1,850 miles round trip to play in four of the most well-known Christmas tournaments in the state.
Here's a rundown of all the holiday tournament action -- local and not-so-local:
At Maine East:
The 16-team field at the Maine East Holiday Tournament in Park Ridge includes Vernon Hills and Antioch.
Vernon Hills faces Metea Valley Monday at 4:30 p.m. in the field house, while Antioch is in the 7:30 p.m. contest against Leyden.
Vernon Hills, which started the season 9-1, has two big scoring threats in Milan Raval (18.3 ppg) and Erik Rimas (13.2 ppg). Cougars coach Matt McCarty likes Lane Tech and Chicago Westinghouse as favorites at Maine East.
"I think we will see some different styles of play so we will have to be ready for it all," he said. "With four games in four days, we will have to go a little deeper on the bench than we have been in the first month of the season."
Antioch coach Sean Connor pegs Lane Tech, Westinghouse and Vernon Hills as favorites. The Sequoits have been sparked of late by Kyle Glassman who had 16 points in a recent game against Grant and freshman Marshall Gehrke, who averages 13 points a game.
Connor noted Antioch was due to get players back from injury and COVID quarantine earlier this week. "I would like to see continued growth with players returning from quarantine and injury heading into the second half of the season to push for a run at conference and prep for the state playoffs," he said.
Libertyville heads over to Wheeling Monday to play in the Wheeling Hardwood Classic. The Wildcats open play Monday at 7:15 p.m. against the host school. Libertyville would play either Fremd or Maine West in the winner's bracket (8:45 p.m. on Tuesday) or loser's bracket (2 p.m. on Tuesday). The Wildcats were 7-4 through their first 11 contests.
Warren, 6-2 through its first eight games, is off to the long-standing 90th Pontiac Holiday Tournament where it opens play Tuesday against Oak Park-River Forest at 2:30 p.m. Top seeds at Pontiac include Chicago Curie, Chicago Simeon, New Trier and Bloom Township.
"In the Pontiac tournament we will face great competition," Warren coach Jon Jasnoch said. "We want to continue to keep playing team basketball and improve together."
Cooper Stacey (16 ppg) and Drew Dolan (13 ppg) lead the way for Warren. Stacey recently hit for 24 points in a win against Zion-Benton and also had 23 points against Lake Zurich. In that Lake Zurich game, Gavin Cartright hit a game-winning 3 for the Blue Devils. Adam Panek added in 14 points against Zion.
Warren would face No. 2 seed Simeon or Plainfield North on Wednesday.
Mundelein heads way south Monday to play in the 37th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic. The Mustangs open play at 4 p.m. Monday against Oakville High School from Missouri. Mundelein would play either host Collinsville or Wasilla, Alaska in its first game on Tuesday. Fans interested in checking out a tremendously put-together tournament website should visit www.collinsvilleholidayclassic.org.
Lake Zurich also is heading out of town to the 56th Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament hosted by Pekin High School. The Bears will square off against the host Dragons on Monday at 6:30 p.m. At Pekin, Moline is the No. 1 seed followed by Mt. Carmel, Rockford Boylan and Lake Park. Another great tournament website here at www.holidaytournament.com.
And the road show continues for Lake County teams where Carmel is part of the 78th annual Centralia Holiday Tournament hosted by the Orphans of Centralia High School. The Corsairs start play Tuesday against Muhlenberg County out of Greenville, Kentucky. Carmel would play either Evanston or Cahokia Wednesday with doubleheader action a possibility on Thursday.
At Hinsdale Central:
Stevenson opened play Wednesday in the 16-team Hinsdale Holiday Classic hosted by Hinsdale Central with a 70-46 win against Morton. The Patriots then advanced to the semifinals on Tuesday to play Homewood-Flossmoor, after Maine South had to drop out. The championship game is next Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. The forfeit win against Maine South bumped the Patriots to 9-2 overall.
Grant, led in scoring by Chad Kiesgen at 14.6 ppg, is in the midst of playing in the Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs High School in Algonquin. "We're going to keep working to get better and keep improving on the fundamentals," Bulldogs coach Wayne Bosworth said.
Grayslake Central also is in the Hinkle field. The Rams are led by Brendan Whalen (12 ppg), who went for 22 points and 8 boards against Grayslake North recently. Dennis Estepp also had a recent 19-point, 7-assist performance. "Jacobs is a very competitive tournament with a lot of great teams," Rams coach Brian Centella said. "It's a great opportunity to play against some very good competition and continue to grow as a team to prepare us for a very competitive conference."
Grant opened the tournament with a pair of 5-point losses to Loyola Academy (30-25) and Cary-Grove (40-35), while Grayslake Central lost its first pool game to South Elgin (46-40) and lost to Barrington (50-39).
Lakes, which started Northern Lake County action 2-0, is not playing in a Christmas tournament this year. Brock Marino leads the Eagles in scoring at 14 ppg and also is hauling in 7 rebounds per game. "We will have a little break, so we'll use that time to recharge and get ready for an exciting and busy 2022," Lakes coach Chris Snyder said.