Four-class basketball is a mess, so thank goodness for the city tournament.
The only team in the area — and maybe in the state — that most observers think can give Simeon a real challenge is Orr. The Spartans are in Class 2A and the Wolverines in Class 4A, so the only way that game can happen is if both teams advance to the city title game at Chicago State.
There are several speed bumps in the road for both teams, though. Here’s where things stand as the playoffs begin:
Simeon: The Wolverines are one of the best teams in the country, and coach Robert Smith says this squad might be more dominant than any of his six state-title winners. Talen-Horton Tucker is the clear favorite for Player of the Year, and a city title would go a long way toward securing the award. Simeon has a challenging road to the title game. It might face North Lawndale in the second round, and Young or Morgan Park likely will be waiting in the semifinals.
Orr: Dannie Smith and Raekwon Drake feel disrespected and overlooked. They are two of the most dominant players in the state, but college coaches just don’t seem to care. The Spartans have played with fire and passion all season, and the city title might mean more to them than any other team. Orr should cruise into the semifinals, where a rematch against Curie is likely.
Curie: The Condors haven’t wowed observers this season, but they just keep winning. Maurice Commander has been contributing more lately, and junior DaJuan Gordon is developing into a force. Curie hasn’t been able to mount much of a challenge in two losses to Simeon, but it defeated Orr at the beginning of the season.
Young: The Dolphins seemed to be on the decline a week ago, giving up massive amounts of points. They lost at Orr last week, but their performance was impressive. Young didn’t let the taller Spartans control the post, and point guard Xavier Castaneda was more aggressive and productive than ever before. Coach Tyrone Slaughter regularly has the Dolphins playing their best at this time of year, and it looks as though he has pulled that off again.
Morgan Park: Ayo Dosunmu is back from his ankle injury. The Illinois recruit has missed 10 games, and the Mustangs have had mixed results without him. Sophomore guards Adam Miller and Marcus Watson have been spectacular in his absence. Morgan Park’s road to the title is terribly difficult. It might have to beat Young and Simeon just to get to a title-game matchup against Orr.
Lincoln Park: The Lions have lost three games in a row, but Terrence Shannon and Chris Roberts lead a dangerous team. Lincoln Park is the only team in the state other than Orr to beat Young. The Lions also have beaten North Lawndale, DePaul Prep and Marian Catholic.
Uplift: The Titans aren’t consistent, but they are occasionally spectacular. Markese Jacobs is one of the top talents in the state, and Toraze Dobbs can dominate games.
Feb. 6, 5 p.m.
(WN3) Foreman at (RN1) Orr
(WN1) Lane at (RS8) Harlan
(RN9) Westinghouse at (RN5) Farragut
(WS2) Julian at (RS4) Bogan
(WC3) Hubbard at (RS2) Curie
(WC1) UP-Englewood at (RN7) Marshall
(RS10) Dunbar at (RS5) Kenwood
(WW2) Collins at (RN3) Lincoln Park
(WS3) Longwood at (RS1) Simeon
(WS1) Corliss at (RN8) North Lawndale
(RS9) Brooks at (RS5) Hyde Park
(WN2) Payton at (RN4) Uplift
(WW3) Clark at (RN2) Young
(WW1) Crane at (RS7) Vocational
(RN10) Von Steuben at (RN5) Prosser
(WC2) King at (RS3) Morgan Park
Feb. 16 at Chicago State
Feb. 18 at Chicago State