Michael O’Brien’s notebook: March 2, 2018

Libertyville's Drew Peterson and the rest of the Libertyville crowd celebrate his last second three-point shot to win the Regional championship over Conant 59-56, March 2, 2018. | Allen Cunningham/ for Chicago Sun-Times

I am on a lucky streak with my playoff choices so far this season. Things looked bleak at halftime but heated up quickly.

It was great to talk with the Libertyville players after the game, they were a real breath of fresh air. Apparently a lot of them listen to No Shot Clock, so they know that I picked against them and that I kinda joke that Drew Peterson never plays well when I’m in the gym.

Instead of the usual “oh we proved you wrong” that I get 99% of the time, the players were proud and happy that I was there to see them play well. They understood that when Joe Henricksen and I talk about the sport we love on the podcast that we aren’t picking people we like or dislike, we are just talking sports. So thanks Wildcats, it was great to see you play well and really heartening to learn that some teams actually understand the spirit in which Joe and I try to do things.

Read all about Libertyville’s thrilling win over Conant and watch Drew Peterson’s game-winning shot. 

Tonight’s top games

CLASS 4A
Brother Rice 78, Kenwood 39: Not a surprise at all that the Crusaders won, but the score is quite a shock. Broncos do not end the season on a high note.

Dundee-Crown 45, Jacobs 40: Looks like we have a Cinderella story brewing.

Marist 67, Bloom 59: Morgan Taylor scored 24 points for the RedHawks. I’m sure Bloom’s sophs wanted a longer run in the playoffs, but they gave one of the area’s better teams a real challenge. Not bad at all for such a young squad. Soph Keshawn Williams led the Blazing Trojans with 23.

Willowbrook 61, Hinsdale South 56: This was one of the games I thought about covering. Huge win for the Warriors, who end Zion Griffin’s high school career.

Joliet Central 49, Oswego East 38: I had a feeling that it wasn’t such a bad thing for the Steelmen to lose to Oswego East a couple weeks ago. Here’s a bit on the game from Jeff DeGraw, @willcountysport

Trailing 35-31 with 6:20 left, the Steelmen went on an 18-0 run over six minutes

“I love these kids,” Joliet Central coach Lawrence Thompson, Jr. said. “There is no quit in anyone on this team. Defense was the name of the game tonight. We wanted to keep it simple, slow the game down, but, yet take advantage when we had a chance in transition. We weren’t going to run with then [Oswego East], they are too good of a team to do that.”

Niles North 68, St. Viator 60: Another game I wanted to be at, likely the best two overall teams that played each other tonight. Damaria Franklin got it done again, scored 22. He’s my next Milik Yarbrough. Really tired of everyone telling me why he isn’t a Division I player. We shall see.

Larkin 46, St. Charles North 43: The Royals are living up to the preseason hype a bit now. Huge win for a team with a really, really high ceiling.

Rock Island 65, Normal West 57: Big man Francis Okoro loses.

Lincoln-Way East 61, Romeoville 48: The Griffins win their first regional. The Spartans entered the season with a lot of hype and didn’t quite live up to it. Important to keep some perspective though, it was the first 20-win season in school history.

Homewood-Flossmoor 59, Thornton 54: Man, the Vikings are really going to be good next year. The Wildcats are better than people think. I figured that out at Andrew last month. They put up a real fight in this one.

Curie 67, Riverside-Brookfield 59: Strong end to the season for the Bulldogs. I don’t think many expected this game to be so close.

Bartlett 45, Wheaton-Warrenville South 42: Another possible Cinderella.

Proviso East 83, Fenwick 70: Ok everyone, I can admit when I’m wrong. The Friars lost a lot of games this season (to good teams) but I held the faith and kept them in the Super 25. The Pirates shot the heck out of the ball to get the upset. Trevor Moore scored 37.

Simeon 77, Crete-Monee 66: So maybe the Wolverines aren’t a state championship lock after all. Very interesting score. Kejuan Clements scored 30, Talen Horton-Tucker was held to eight.

Lincoln Park 74, Oak Park 70 OT: The Lions win a fun one. Terrence Shannon was the hero. I guess my midseason faith in Lincoln Park wasn’t so misplaced.

Moline 56, Danville 51: The shocker of the night. I really think the Vikings are one of the best teams in the state. Excited to see what Moline can do from here on.

CLASS 3A
Rich East 68, Hillcrest 65 OT: Wow, ok maybe this is the shocker of the night. The Rockets lost their coach and their best player midway through the season.

CLASS 2A
Corliss 67, Momence 43: MOMENCE WATCH ends. It was a fun run. Really dominant score here, impressive margin for the Trojans.

CLASS 1A
Annawan 63, Aurora Christian 54: A potential state champion loses. I don’t know anything about Annawan, but if they can beat AC they are pretty good.

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43 comments

  • Shogun29ppg

    Like I said earlier why was Aurora Christian ranked, you kidding me, class 1A for god’s sake

  • Mike O'Malley

    Bloom vs Marist was unbelievable. Bloom was the best 10 seed I’ve ever seen. Marist is for real.

  • Clyde The Glide

    Big win for Proviso East. Let’s see if they can keep it going vs Curie.
    Fenwick never was as good as they were on paper. Couldn’t win the big one
    all season. Had many opportunities.

  • reason

    Bout time no more Andrew slurping they lost simple as that what happens when the Thorns leave the conference and the droids dont get 4 cupcake conference wins Wilson will have to look to see what boys scout packs have an off night to pad his win total PLAY SOMEONE like Coach O did back in the day.

  • RB

    Great win Corliss! O’Brien, you gave Momence a lot if love in previous articles, but their strength of schedule throughout the season back fired and definitely was no where near the majority of the Chicagoland teams. You can only skate and dodge competition for so long, and Momence did that all year. Corliss didn’t even need GC, and the guards stepped up and played well.

  • James

    Naperville north predicted by MOB to lose to Geneva and it looked like is was going to happen. Down 17 to 5 they showed what a well balanced team they are jack barry, kevin lang and jack hill carried them to a 13 point win. Great D off the bench. Sorry mike no more WWS vs NN 35 point games this year.

    • Manny

      Geneva will be a top ranked team next year. Great shooters and a great point guard. Just a little bit young this year to handle NN. I love the make up of the team. I think they own the DuKane conference next year……..

  • Nick

    Great win by 15 points for the St. Francis Spartans over a 20 win Wheaton Academy team Friday night. This team definitely made stronger by the tough Chicago Catholic League schedule. First regional title since 2013. 4 senior starters with experience trying to make one last run.

  • Pirates Nation

    Proviso East’s win over Fenwick was no upset! Clearly, they proved to be the better team.

  • Fan Mail

    Rich East former Coach was the reason the first part of their season was bleak. He never knew his players strengths. As for them loosing their best player, you obviously do not know anything about the Rich East Basketball team. The young man who left was not their best player, hence the reason they are doing so well now.

  • Sam 50 year alum

    Great win I bet those guards from fenwick never saw D like that. Old pirate basketball 32 minutes of HELL curie is next must play just as hard if not harder. see you at RB GO PIRATES

  • Duke Carnoustie

    Mike,

    Deerfield is an underrated place to catch a game. I have many memories of going up there for games, including seeing a young MJ pumping gas one winter night.

    • Michael O'Brien

      Can’t say I’m a fan of the Deerfield gym. One of those new places where the stands are way too far back from the court. The fans were into it last night though, so that helped.

  • Leegs1

    Annawan has three losses. They lost earlier to Aurora Christian by eleven. Congrats to Thompson’s Joliet Central team. He is a class act.

  • wesbaby

    #2 for West Aurora is the best athlete I’ve seen since DRose, unbelievably quick, incredible hops, oh, and great hair. Future NFL receiver if he goes that route. Andrew hung with them, down just two with 5:30 left; get job boys, heads high!

    • mikenike

      Camron Donatlan, state champ in the high jump, 4 year starter on the basketball team, and accepted a scholarship from Wyoming to play football (wide receiver/running back). As a Blackhawk fan, it’s been a joy to follow that kid for the last 4 years.

      • BBall fan

        Totally agree! He’s crazy fun to watch, no matter which sport. His winning high jump last year would have been good for fourth at the NCAA outdoor championships. Wyoming is letting him do both football and track

  • Robbie

    3A…no HYde Park vs ST L game?

  • Just the facts

    My Raiders looked great at times and awful other times. I don’t know what it’s going to take to recapture that early season magic, but they’re going to have to.

  • Deerfield CSL Fan

    Can’t put a finger on Lance Jones and his shooting woes. Here’s a kid with talent galore who I remember from his early days of aau ball who shot lights out consistently from both the free throw line and on the court. I watched him in warmups and everything he put up was good, but come game time he can’t hit the blind side of the barn, go figure. The Holden kid is a scorer, no doubt about it, which is good, if he had the size of Jones he’d be highly recruited, but he’s lacking in passing the ball. Tonite he had the open looks and didn’t hesitate but he looks off players who may have easier looks to do something acrobatic. The big kid on Evanston just takes up space and looks as if he isn’t interested. The other junior starter Bost, very solid on defense and has a throwback to the Bob Cousy days set shot. Loyola should beat them the next go around because of their willingness to share the ball and the leadership of Kevin Cunningham, who’s dangerous along with the twin bigs who Evanston has nobody to match up against them. If Jones has one of those games were his shooting is on, then Loyola is in trouble along with Holden doing his me first scoring.

    • Fan2

      He’s like Nojel Eastern. Nojel lost his shot after his sophomore year and still can’t shoot at Purdue. But he’s 6’6″.

  • Ronald Talley

    Fenwick and Hillcrest received too much hype this year and fell short when it counted. People are sleep on Marian Catholic. They should be well in the top 10 and will go all the way this year!

    • Chet

      You’ve had too much Marian Catholic Kool-Aid. They are a top 25 team, but not top 10. Not deep enough, and if the guards are off, they are in trouble. They have lived-and-died with guard play. Defense is so-so, as Benet weaved and puicked them apart.

  • chris

    Really liked the 2 juniors from St. Viator Lions, Jeremiah Hernandez and Treyvon Calvin. Both are very well poised and first class players who will be back next year. Both D1 talent that displayed outstanding sportsmanship tonight against some really awful officiating.

  • Flozell

    As stated, scheduling top competition doesn’t mean anything if you don’t beat it. Records do matter!

    • Michael O'Brien

      I don’t agree with that at all. Scheduling top competition means an awful lot, whether you win all the games or not. That’s been proven time and time again.

      • Manny

        I agree with you Mike. But I think what sometimes gets missed is that a team can be really good and play a weak schedule. I think we saw that last year with Fremd. No one really respected them, but they were only a play or two away from some big upsets when they got downstate. They were clearly a great team, but didn’t play a great schedule. There plenty of examples of the other way (like Aurora Christian this year who just got knocked out). Certainly a good schedule prepares you better for the playoffs, but a poor schedule doesnt automatically make you a bad team.

        • Norm

          Schedule helps a little but the intensity at tournament time is much different than the regular season. Last year’s Evanston team played a tough nationally ranked schedule but none of those teams played defense like WY did when it came time for the Supersectionals.

      • Leegs1

        Jeez, Mikey, are you talking about strength of schedule?

  • Duke Carnoustie

    Mike, I am very impressed that you admitted that you were wrong on Fenwick. That’s mostly because I was absolutely on the money. They didn’t impress me all season, I saw a decent enough team that lost games and they just didn’t have the depth or talent. I guess well over half a century of watching HS hoops counts for something…

    Meanwhile, nice to see a hearty Wildkits contingent who made the long, long trek to Glenview to watch a regional final in one of the best gyms in the state. A huge second half got our transition game rolling though in truth, ND was never going to challenge us.

    Loyola won’t let that happen Tuesday. This is probably the worst matchup for us even though we beat them before. I really think we would have been better off with Maine South, though they could beat us too.

    Also surprised Mike didn’t include that Lincoln Park shot in the notebook. Never seen anything like it. Wish I was there in person, though it won’t top the Peters shot form this season as the best in HS history.

    • OP Hoop Fan

      Tough night for Oak Park basketball, with OPRF and Fenwick going down. It’s a shame OPRF can’t have a real coach. The amount of talent that flows through that school is insane and to have something like only 2 regional titles in 7 or 8 years is ridiculous. Not until they get a coach will that school ever become an elite school. How can the kids compete when you have a coach constantly berating each kid every time he makes a mistake. And how can you win any meaningful game when the coach can’t realize a star player for the other team has 4 fouls and you never attack him? What the hell. Basketball is not that hard, but for this coach it is. Give credit to Shannon for making the 35 ft 3-pointer with plenty of time on the board. Hell of a shot, but give me any other coach and OPRF wins that game by 10.

      • Wscfantoo

        I thought I was the only who thought that. Unfortunately, he is not close to being the worst coach in the WSC. WSC basketball used to be so good. I don’t know if it’s the parent meddling or generally poor travel system in the area, but a team further west is playing more play-in games than sectionals the last ten years. But a family gets to use varsity basketball as their kids personal showcase, while the program is a nonfactor, so the school gets what the deserve.

        • OP Hoop Fan

          @Wscfantoo, who do you think is worse than Maloney? I watch how the other coaches in the WSC Silver coach their players and they all work WITH the kids, TEACH the kids. No other coach is a f-ing lunatic on the sidelines, looking for every instance to yell at his players. The kids can seemingly do nothing right in his eyes. It’s really sad because there’s been a lot of great players, but who would want to play and listen to this coach? And I think it’s very obvious he can’t make any in-game adjustments.

          • Wscfantoo

            I’d say Sloan is much worse, but Maloney underachieves just as much. Both clowns on the sideline.

  • chris

    Consensus Sauce it Down Top 25

    1. Simeon – 27-3
    2. Orr – 27-4
    3. Curie – 25-4
    4. Young – 24-7
    5. Morgan Park – 20-9
    6. Evanston – 23-5
    7. Benet – 25-4
    8. West Aurora – 23-4
    9. Niles North – 26-4
    10. Uplift 18-10
    11. New Trier – 24-5
    12. Marist – 26-4
    13. Naperville North – 26-2
    14. DePaul Prep – 23-6
    15. Marian Catholic – 22-5
    16. H-F – 21-6
    17. Loyola 24-6
    18. Bogan – 20-8
    19. Joliet Central -23-5
    20. Bolingbrook 21-6
    21. Proviso East 20-8
    22. Lincoln Park 19-9
    23. Willowbrook – 25-5
    24. LWE – 23-5
    25. Larkin 21-8

    On the Verge:

    Rich East 17-10, Corliss 23-4 , Hope Academy 26-4 , Libertyville 19-9, St. Rita 18-11, Brother Rice 19-10, Lake Zurich 24-7 , Barrington 23-6, Bartlett 17-12, Fremd 17-12 , Dundee Crown 17-12, St. Laurence 20-10

    Honorable Mention:

    Fenwick – 20-8, 8-0
    St. Viator – 24-6, 9-0
    Hillcrest – 22-6,13-0
    OPRF – 23-6, 12-0
    Jacobs 25-4, 16-0
    Prospect 22-6, 10-0
    Leo – 20-6, 8-0
    Northridge – 22-6, 12-0
    Aurora Christian 25-2, 10-0

    • Juswatchin

      Why is uplift at #10… there done….. move them to honorable mention!

      • chris

        Uplift pushed the #2 Orr to OT at Timothy Christian in sectional semis.
        They are legit top 10 team?

        • Pirate Sleeved Jersey

          No, Uplift is not a legit top 10 team. Orr was looking past Uplift as Orr had already crushed Uplift 2x. Uplift lost by 55 the first time they played and by 29 the second time they played. Orr was soooooo looking past Uplift that Orr’s coach did not even go to the game (he was at his son’s Sr night).

          And as you well know Chris, Uplift should have lost to Northridge. Move them to honorable mention.

  • Pirate Sleeved Jersey

    On Proviso!

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