Following major midweek upsets, including St. Charles East over Wheaton South, Prairie Ridge over Burlington Central and Marmion over Mount Carmel, what will the weekend bring?
There are several compelling conference matchups that will heat up the Weekend Forecast across the area high school basketball scene. Here are seven games, with some picks, to keep tabs on.
Last week: 5-1
Mount Carmel (21-3) at Brother Rice (23-3), Friday
Another massive Catholic League tussle with definitive storylines.
For starters, how does Mount Carmel rebound from a shocking loss to Marmion earlier in the week?
There is also the heavyweight battle at point guard: DeAndre Craig vs. Ahmad Henderson. They are two of the best, most productive players in the state.
And most importantly, the conference race. Mount Carmel is tied with Loyola on top of the Catholic League Blue with identical 9-1 records. Brother Rice is hanging in there with a 9-2 mark.
This won’t be easy but Craig, Anthony and Angelo Ciaravino and the Caravan go on the road and get back on track.
The pick: Mount Carmel 60, Brother Rice 57
Lincoln-Way East (21-3) at Bolingbrook (20-6), Friday
Bolingbrook has won or shared a Southwest Suburban Blue title in each of the last four seasons. The Raiders are on the verge of a fifth straight championship.
Lincoln-Way East is in the midst of a record-breaking season. The Griffins have their third 20-plus win season in program history and are just three wins away from winning the most games ever in a season. But the only way Lincoln-Way East can grab at least a share of its first Southwest Suburban Blue championship is with a win at Bolingbrook.
Can a balanced Lincoln-Way East, led by George Bellevue, Tylon Tolliver and Kyle Olagbegi, make a little history?
Bolingbrook will again have the best, most dynamic player on the floor in point guard Mekhi Cooper. The Miami-Ohio recruit is averaging 19.5 points.
The Raiders won the first matchup between these two, and they win again while locking up another conference championship along the way.
The pick: Bolingbrook 65, Lincoln-Way East 58
Oswego East (21-5) at Yorkville (22-4), Friday
The conference race has been put to bed. Oswego East is unbeaten, has a three-game lead and is on the verge of clinching its second straight unbeaten Southwest Prairie West title.
But more than anything, this is a monumental measuring stick game for the host Foxes, a youthful team that has exceeded expectations.
Extremely balanced Yorkville has won 12 of its last 13 games with its only loss coming to highly-ranked Joliet West. The trio of 6-4 Lebarron Lee, 6-10 Jason Jakstys and Jory Boley are all double-figure scorers.
How far has coach John Holakovsky’s team come since losing at Oswego East, 58-52, in the middle of December?
This has the feel of an upset. Foxes win a tight one.
The pick: Yorkville 62, Oswego East 60
Palatine (19-6) at Barrington (17-3), Friday
A big one in the Mid-Suburban League West between the top two teams in the league that went four extra minutes the last time they met. Palatine won that one 57-52 in overtime.
Palatine’s Connor May was the difference in the first one. The 6-6 junior, who is averaging 18.4 points and 8.3 rebounds, put up 28 points and 16 rebounds in the win.
Palatine, which holds a one-game lead over Barrington, could take a big step in locking up an appearance in the MSL title game and a shot at Rolling Meadows later this month with a win.
The Pirates get it done on the road for the season sweep.
The pick: Palatine 55, Barrington 50
New Trier (23-4) at Evanston (19-6), Friday
How much fun would it be for Evanston to knock its rival New Trier out of first place in the Central Suburban League South?
The last battle between these two was a low-scoring dogfight where New Trier grinded out a 42-36 win. But the return to Evanston will be huge test as it’s never easy to win a New Trier-Evanston battle in Beardsley Gymnasium.
Evanston’s Prince Adams has put together an outstanding season, averaging a double-double at 14.3 points and 10.8 rebounds. But New Trier held him in check in the first game, limiting the 6-7 senior to just two points.
Jake Fiegen has been terrific for the Trevians. He puts up 20 points a game and provides a toughness others feed off. That toughness New Trier plays with, along with its perimeter shooting capability with Fiegen, Ian Brown and Colby Smith, thwarts any upset bid in E-Town.
But this will be a back-and-forth barnburner and a New Trier win — only if it shoots the ball well. The Trevians find a way to get it done on the road.
The pick: New Trier 55, Evanston 52
Benet (24-1) at Marian Catholic (21-6), Friday
Marian Catholic has quietly won eight straight games as it heads into an East Suburban Catholic Conference rematch with the league leader. Quentin Jones, a versatile 6-5 senior, along with James Bullock and Donovan Juzang, have been the go-to players all season.
But the Spartans step up in class in this one. Benet has beaten Proviso East, Riverside-Brookfield, Marian Catholic, Bloom, Joliet West, Marist and Kenwood — all teams that have either been ranked or have won 20 games on the season.
Yes, Benet has passed every test along the way, boasts a glitzy record and has looked good doing it against a strong schedule. The supporting cast of Sam Driscoll, Andy Nash and Parker Sulaver continues to step up while the trio of Brayden Fagbemi, Niko Abusara and Brady Kunka have excelled.
The Redwings beat Marian 46-37 back in December –– and are playing much better now than they were then. Expect more of the same.
The pick: Benet 51, Marian Catholic 43
Libertyville (20-4) at Rolling Meadows (22-4), Saturday
There is a chance these two could meet one more time this season. There is a lot of basketball still to be played, but a super-sectional rematch isn’t out of the question as both will be high seeds in their respective sectionals.
Libertyville is in position to be a No. 1 seed in the Barrington Sectional. Rolling Meadows remains in the discussion for a top two seed in the New Trier Sectional.
But first things first.
Even while battling some recent injuries, Libertyville has piled up wins and is tied for first in the North Suburban Conference in what has been a very impressive season. Cole Bonder has stepped up of late while Jack Huber has been instrumental in all the little things.
But aside from a win over Glenbrook North, marquee wins — and opportunities — are missing on the résumé. This would be the biggest win to date.
Cameron Christie is the bonafide star for Rolling Meadows. The Minnesota recruit is the focus of every opposing defense. But 6-7 senior Tsvet Sotirov is back on track. He was 5 for 5 from three en route to 17 points with 10 rebounds and six assists in a blowout win over Buffalo Grove earlier this week.
The pick: Rolling Meadows 63, Libertyville 51