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High school basketball: Michael O’Brien’s holiday tournament notebook

PONTIAC—It was amazing to see huge crowds at the statewide holiday tournaments. This week felt like a really fitting return to pre-COVID attendance.

And the basketball was spectacular. Teams like Lyons and Rolling Meadows calmed the doubters and some new schools emerged, notably Libertyville and Grayslake Central.

Top Games on Friday (All Tournament Championships)


Sacred Heart-Griffin 57, Romeoville 41: Zack Hawkinson scored 20 and Jake Hamilton added 19 points for SHG. What a solid holiday season for Romeoville, but this experience should be a real shot in the arm for a talented team who are still finding their way. Meyoh Swansey scored 15 and Aaron Brown added 10 points.


St. Louis Cardinal Knights 58, Evanston 52: Another local team loses but definitely opens some eyes. The Wildkits have lost to many good local teams but are improving significantly. Prince Adams and Jonah Ross made the all-tournament team.


Geneva 43, United 40: The Vikings win the 95th Chuck Dayton Holiday Classic, my new favorite under-the-radar holiday tournament. It is the third time that Geneva conquers the championship.


Lincoln Way East 56, Teutopolis 38: Ty Toliver scored 23 and the Griffins 14-1, took care of business over the holidays. Toliver, George Bellevue and Kyle Olagbegi made up the all-tournament team.


Shepherd 45, Elgin 41: Jermell Lymon scored 18 and Payton Crims added 12 points.


IC Catholic 62, Taft 61: That’s nine straight wins and a title for the Knights. Looks like it was fun. Lyle Scibor led Taft by 20 points.


56 Grayslake Central, 51 Crystal Lake South: I haven’t seen any stats for this one, but I’m excited to get out there and cover the Rams ASAP.


Niles West 74, Maine East 73 2 OT: A thriller in Park Ridge. Joseph Pantazis scored 24 for Wolves and Timothy Matthew added 13.


Hillcrest 69, Perspective Guide 64: Another huge crowd at the Big Dipper tonight. It was great to see all the holiday tournaments bounce back strongly this season. Darrion Baker led the Hawks to the title with 24 points and 12 rebounds and Quentin Heady added 24. Jakeem Cole led the Warriors with 28 points. It was a great tournament for Perspectives.


64 Libertyville, 59 Glenbrook North: How about the wildcats? Aidyn Boone had a monster title game with 21 points and 12 rebounds and tournament MVP Will Buchert added 15 points and 10 rebounds.


Rolling Meadows 56, Lyon 42: Last week Joe Henricksen and I said that Rolling Meadows is the team that has to prove itself the most during the holidays. The Mustangs delivered completely and rolled to the championship. Cam Christie reinforced his candidacy for Player of the Year with 26 points in the title game. Mark Nikolich-Wilson and Ian Miletic each added 11 points. Nik Polonowski led the Lions at 16. This was Lyon’s first loss of the season. And it could be argued that no team in the region has built their reputation more than the Lions this week.

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