Michael O’Brien’s notebook: Feb. 2, 2019

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The steps to Oak Lawn's locker room.

Remember that No Shot Clock earlier this week about Public League domination? Well, that might be even more of the case than we originally thought. Simeon, the fourth place team in the Red-South/West, went down to O’Fallon tonight and lost to Belleville West 55-54 in overtime on a three in the final seconds.

The Maroons, featuring EJ Liddell, are the top-ranked team in the state and the defending Class 4A champions. I watched the livestream of the game. This wasn’t a case of Simeon suddenly finding itself and playing a great game. It was a fairly typical performance (just got off the phone with Simeon coach Robert Smith, who agreed). The Wolverines didn’t score a basket for the final 6:29 of regulation and only had one basket in the final 10:07 of regulation

Liddell finished with 19 points and five rebounds for Belleville West. Antonio Reeves led Simeon with 17 points. Jeremiah Stamps had 10, Jaylen Drane and Kejuan Clements each scored 8.

Star sophomore Ahamad Bynum, recently back from injury, isn’t quite in the flow of things yet. Simeon’s playoff ceiling is clearly high and nothing that I saw in that game from the Maroons demonstrated that they are better than Young, Morgan Park or Curie.

It’s safe to say the the Class 4A field is wide open.

Lincoln Park shakes off a dismal first half, beats Naperville North: Lincoln Park guard Tahir Thompson has carved out an interesting specialty for himself this season. The 6-2 senior is the guy that guards the talented bigs. Lions coach Pat Gordon said that Thompson did solid jobs against New Trier’s 6-9 Ciaran Brayboy and Bloomington’s powerful 6-7 jumping jack Chris Payton. Lincoln Park won both of those games. Thompson was matched up against Naperville North’s 6-7 senior Tom Welch in the Ernie Kivisto Hoopfest on Saturday at East Aurora.

Welch, a Loyola recruit, was the best player in the game but Thompson managed to grab a key steal from him in the final seconds to help seal a 42-39 win for No. 8 Lincoln Park. Read the story…

No. 6 Evanston holds off Anthony Roberts-led rally, escapes Oak Park: Anthony Roberts, despite his frustration, could only smile. The positive of the night — that his Oak Park team had pushed No. 6 Evanston to the brink, holding a lead entering the game’s final two minutes before falling 79-69 — was little consolation. Roberts had scored a game-high 24 points, brought down a game-high eight rebounds, shot 11-of-14 from the floor, led a double-digit comeback in the fourth quarter, and had nothing to show in the standings for it. Read the story…

Saturday’s top games

Urbana 58, No. 4 Bloom 57: Shocker. Urbana is 11-13 this season. Bloom played without Martice Mitchell, Keshawn Williams and Donovan Newby so that was clearly a major factor. Dante Maddox Jr. scored 18 for Bloom, Bryson Tatum led Urbana with 16 points.

Riverside-Brookfield 64, Fenwick 61: Zach Vaia and Patrick Hanley each scored 17 for the 20-4 Bulldogs.

Johnsburg 64, McHenry 50: Zach Toussaint scored his 2,00th career point, the first McHenry County player to hit that mark.

Dunbar 93, Brooks 49: That is a huge margin, Brooks can play. Ishmael Martin had 30 points and Tyrese Scurlock added 21 points and 10 rebounds.

No. 5 Young 58, Iowa City West 42: This was also down in O’Fallon. The Dolphins cruise. DJ Stewards scored 21 and  Tyler Beard had 14 points.

Lyons 69, East Aurora 53: Nolan Niego had 20 and Josh Berry had 14 for the Lions.

De La Salle 77, Montini 45: Solid win that gets the Meteors over the .500 mark. Huge game for Abnar Muhammad who scored 27 and drained seven three-pointers.

Mundelein 51, Lake Forest 46 OT: The young Mustangs win. Sophomore Conor Enright had 17 points and five assistst, soph Jack Bikus added 14 points and eight rebounds and soph Scottie Ebube had 12 points and eight boards.

No. 19 Waukegan 65, Warren 60: Jordan Brown scored 17 and Jaylin Cunningham had 15. The Bulldogs are 21-4.

No. 13 Geneva 68, Aurora Christian 31: Running clock. Very impressive performace from the Vikings. Mitch Mascari had 14 points and six rebounds. Great all around game by point guard Jack McDonald. I had some questions about Geneva after watching them squeak past Wheaton North at home last month, but boy did the Vikings play well today.

North Lawndale 69, Clark 63: Monster game for Demetrius Douglas, one of the city’s underrated seniors, with 30 points and eight rebounds.

Lane 56, Wheaton-Warrenville South 39: Johnny Colombo leads the Indians with 22 points. Vuk Djuric and Jimmy Mulvaney each scored nine.

No. 15 York 77, Oswego East 50: Erik Cohn scored 21, made five three-pointers. RayJ Dennis finished with 22 for the Wolves, who I am getting a bit concerned about. There is still time for them to turn things around, but I expected this to be a close game. Considering checking out the Oswego-Oswego East clash on Friday.

Check out this game-winner tonight at Providence.

SATURDAY’S FULL SCOREBOARD

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4 comments

  • Mike Roberts

    Really enjoy your columns! I was surprised you failed to mention that E.J. Liddell rolled his ankle in the first quarter of the Simeon game. Prior to injury he was playing lights out. He missed a large part of the first half and was greatly affected by a now tender ankle. He came back and played well, but was not the dominant force he was early in the game. The Simeon game was a very enjoyable game to watch, a lot of really good players on both teams. The state tournament should be a lot of fun to watch.

    • Michael O'Brien

      Yes, there is a lot of conjecture about Liddell “dominating” before he left briefly with the ankle injury. It was 15-10 when Liddell left the game. He only missed a few minutes and scored 19 points. It’s February, no one feels great.

    • ShawnJ

      This is correct. St. Louis area news articles did a better job of mentioning Liddell’s injury and the impact that it had on the game compared to the no-mention here. The difference in energy and aggressiveness for Belleville West was noticeably different after the Liddell injury as they essentially went into survival mode. The injury was significant enough that Liddell missed his next game against Collinsville (a loss), which also happens to be one of the better teams in the state this year. A one-ankled Liddell and company were still able to fend off a very good Simeon team. The loss to Collinsville will hurt Belleville West in the rankings, but a healthy BW is still the team to beat in a very competitive 4a class.

  • Rick Cademartori

    Oswego East (or any other team for that matter) can not beat York playing that type of game. To beat York, you need to run and gun…. if you are good at R&G you should beat them. But York is real good at half court B-Ball.

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