Hope Academy contains high-scoring Grant Primer, beats Rochelle Zell

Hope Academy's Dorian Robinson (0) steals the ball from Rochelle Zell's Max Pivo (4) in Deerfield IL Wednesday 01-31-18. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Hope Academy played second fiddle to Orr all of last season. The Spartans were the city’s small school darlings, winning the Class 2A state title in Peoria.

But the Eagles also had a big year, they also advanced to Peoria and finished third in the state in Class 1A.

That trophy came with a price. The IHSA’s success factor has bumped Hope Academy up to Class 2A this season, so it is now in direct competition with Orr, the West Side neighbors.

“We know Orr is in that upper-echelon, but you have to go through us,” Hope Academy coach Antwon Johnson said. “They have to play us. We respect everybody but we don’t fear anyone.”

Wednesday in Deerfield the Eagles had to deal with one of the area’s better scorers, Rochelle Zell’s Grant Primer. Hope Academy was able to bottle him up defensively and beat the Tigers 56-34.

Primer, a 6-3 senior, has signed with Haverford, a Division three school in Pennsylvania. He’s scored 30 or more points in five of Rochelle Zell’s 13 games.

He finished with 11 points, but was dangerous whenever he had an open look, shooting 4-for-8 from the field.

“We knew who he was,” Johnson said. “He can shoot the ball, he’s one of the better shooters I’ve seen in quite some time.”

“Primer has a nice game, he can really shoot the ball well,” Hope Academy senior Javion May said. “We just knew we had to take him out of the offense if we wanted to win. So that is what we focused on as a team.”

May led the Eagles (18-4, 3-0 Chicago Prep Red) with 21 points and nine rebounds. Senior Javari McClendon added 10 points and 12 rebounds.

The Tigers (10-3, 1-2) hung tough in the first quarter but trailed by 15 at halftime.

Rochelle Zell, a Jewish school, takes a winter break from basketball every season when most of the team’s seniors take a trip to Israel. This was the first game back after the break.

“It’s an adjustment,” Primer said. “We only had six guys at practice when they were all gone. Then they come back and are all jet-lagged. This is a heck of a team. We don’t have that much athletic ability and then those 40 days when everyone is out in Israel makes it a challenge. But we played them real tough and showed a lot of heart.”

Brian Silverstein and Idan Chazan each scored seven points for Rochelle Zell, which turned the ball over 27 times.

“When we play defense and start talking to each other it can get loud and intimidate teams,” May said. “That’s what happens when we play like we should.”

Senior Dorian Robinson scored nine for Hope Academy. The Eagles are determined to replicate last season’s success, despite the move up to Class 2A.

“Because we moved up a class everyone has kind of forgotten about us,” Johnson said. “That’s ok, we do well flying under the radar. Our kids read the newspaper, they understand. My focus is to keep the kids hungry, we have to build on what we did last year.”

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8 comments

  • Emmanuel D.

    It’s Chicago Hope Academy not Hope Academy. 2 different schools.

  • chris

    1. Simeon 2. Curie 3. Orr 4. Niles North 5. Bolingbrook 6. Young 7. Morgan Park 8. Fenwick 9. Evanston 10. New Trier 11. Loyola 12. Benet 13. Marist 14. LWE 15. Leo 16 DePaul 17. Marian Catholic 18. West Aurora 19. Hillcrest 20. Oak Park 21. Lincoln Park 22. WWS 23. Naperville North 24. Maine South 25. Bogan Honorable Mention: Aurora Christian 20-0
    On the Verge: Andrew and Larkin

  • Mr IHSA

    Here you go –

    The new Success Advancement step will move schools up a classification if they achieve the following:

    In football over four years:
    1. Participated in two state championship games.
    2. Starting with the 2015 season, schools would be moved up two classes from their enrollment classification if, over a four year period, the school participated in three championship games.
    3. Starting with the 2016 season, schools would be moved up three classes from their enrollment classification if, over a four year period, the school participated in four championship games.
    4. Schools that move up more than one class due to the implementation of the above criteria will move down one class per year until they reach their appropriate classification for their enrollment should they stop meeting the advancement criteria outlined above.

    In Bracketed Team Sports/Activities (baseball, basketball, scholastic bowl, soccer, softball, volleyball, water polo, wrestling) over four years:
    1. Participated twice in the final four of a particular sport/activity.

    In Non-Bracketed Sports over four years:
    1. Won two trophies at the state finals in a particular sport/activity.

  • BBall fan

    So if IHSA’s success factor has bumped Hope Academy up to Class 2A (because of their third place finish in 1A) why doesn’t Orr have to be bumped up to Class 3A? Or Morgan Park have to bump up to 4A? Those teams certainly were “successful” last year.

    • Derrickbrooks

      I agree 💯💯💯💯💯🤷🏾‍♂️🤷🏾‍♂️🤷🏾‍♂️🤷🏾‍♂️😂

      • Coach Mike

        Lots of flaws with IHSA 4 class system. The answer to your question is, Orr and Morgan Park are public schools, and public schools don’t have the success factor penalty. If Hope only has 1 appearance in final 4, they should not have to play up 2A. I think Hope is in 2A because their enrollment is now multiplied by 1.8. If they reach state in the next 2 years in 2A, the success factor will kick in, and they will have to play 3A. Perhaps I am wrong.

    • Michael O'Brien

      It doesn’t apply to public schools.

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