Boys basketball focus: How area teams fared during the holidays

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

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Photo by Jeff Vorva

Brother Rice’s Josh Boulanger (left) is about to block Conant’s Ryan Davis’s shot Saturday night. Despite that, the 6-foot-9 Davis finished with 31 points and 15 rebounds before fouling out in the first overtime of a double-overtime Conant win. 

Entering the 44th Jack Tosh Holiday Classic with losses against Eisenhower and Loyola and bringing in a modest 6-5 record, Brother Rice didn’t look like a team that was going to make a lot of noise in the 32-team event.

But the Crusaders won four games in four days at York High School in Elmhurst and they found themselves in the championship game against defending tournament champ Conant on Saturday night.

They continued to make noise but eventually fell 54-53 in double overtime in one of the most exciting championship games in the tournament’s history.

“I was proud of our guys all week,’’ said Crusaders coach Bobby Frasor before he was interrupted by a tournament representative who said “I’ve been watching a lot of high school ball doing that (score)book and you guys are great.’’

“Every game we took as a one-game tournament,’’ Frasor added. “I didn’t want them thinking they were going to win five in a row, because that’s just insurmountable. We came to play every day. We showed bits and pieces of what we can do.’’

Vermont-bound Ryan Davis, a 6-foot-9 Conant senior, scored 31 points and hauled down 15 rebounds before fouling out in the first overtime. With Davis out of the game in the final four-minute second overtime, it appeared the Crusaders would have an advantage, but Conant’s Jonathan Kolev opened things up with a 3-pointer and hit a basket with 2.3 seconds left, five seconds after Marquise Kennedy hit a reverse layup after a Brendan Coghlan steal.

After Brother Rice missed a shot just past half court, Conant, 11-4 and coached by former St. Laurence coach Jim Maley, had a wild celebration.

“When their best player is gone, you would like to think your odds have gone up,” Frasor said. “But we were chasing them the entire overtime. After we scored after the steal, I knew that they had no time outs so I didn’t take one because I didn’t want them to get set up. It’s a chaotic moment. Obviously hindsight is 20-20 and I wish I did. But the guy hit a tough long two and give credit to him.’’

Brother Rice (10-6) beat Waubonsie Valley (60-38), Andrew (70-65), St. Laurence (70-58) and Batavia (61-40) to reach the final. Kennedy, a junior, and Josh Boulanger were selected to the All-Tournament team by the 32 coaches.

 Also in Elmhurst…

St. Laurence, Sandburg and Stagg represented the area in the tournament.

St. Laurence (12-4) won two games before its loss to Brother Rice and then dropped an 85-52 decision to Naperville North. Tim Molloy was named all-tournament.   

Sandburg (10-3) finished 2-2 and dropped a 79-73 overtime decision to Lyons in the consolation semifinals. Jake Pygon was named all-tournament.

Stagg (5-8) also went 2-2 and lost to Downers Grove South, 70-66, in the consolation semifinals. John Mahoney was named to the All-Tournament team.

Marist’s tourney streak ends

Marist’s tournament championship streak stopped at an impressive five.

The RedHawks had won five straight regular-season tournaments heading into last week’s action at Centralia. They won the District 218 Thanksgiving Tournament in 2016 and 2017 and their own mid-December Holiday Tournament the same years. They won the 16-team Centralia Tournament for the first time since 1991 last season but on Saturday, the streak ended when they dropped a 57-51 decision to Champaign Central in the semifinals.

Later that night, they beat Alton, 49-45, to finish third.

In the Champaign loss, Morgan Taylor led the team with 18 points and Jack Ellison had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Against Alton, Taylor scored 26 while David Daniels had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Taylor, last year’s tournament MVP, was named to the All-Tournament team.

The RedHawks (14-1) are back in action Friday night when they host Harlan.

Oak Lawn even at T-Town

Oak Lawn is gunning for one of its biggest seasons in decades and split four games at the Teutopolis-Effingham Christmas Classic.

The Spartans shot 61 percent to end the 2017 portion of their season in a 64-40 victory over Brooks. Sophomore Sami Osmani led the team with 20 points and his brother Adem had 16 and was named to the All-Tournament Team for the second straight season.

The Spartans, 9-4, are trying to surpass the 16-win mark for the first time since 1980-81. They resume action at Lemont on Friday night.

Meanwhile in Florida…

Chicago Christian closed the 2017 portion of its season pumped up after a wild 52-50 victory over Newsome (Fla.) at the Disney KSA Tournament at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando after trailing by double figures in the second half.

The Knights nipped Fairborn (Ohio), 46-43, to start things and fell to Bishop Eustace Prep (from New Jersey) 69-63 before the big comeback win.

The Knights play just their second home game of the year when they host St. Edward on Friday night.

Shepard takes third

Shepard took third place in the eight-team Large Division bracket of the Kankakee Holiday Tournament. The Astros (8-4) were 2-1 with wins over DuSable and Reavis and a loss to Peoria Central. Shepard’s Chris Harrison was named to the All-Tournament team for the second straight year.

The Astros open the 2018 portion of their schedule at Oak Forest on Friday.

No repeat for Mustangs

Evergreen Park finished 2-2 and was not able to win back-to-back titles at the Immaculate Conception Catholic/Westmont Tournament. Dan Woodal hit a game-winning basket in a 43-41 victory over Beecher to send his team off on a good note to end the 2017 portion of the schedule.

The Mustangs (5-8) get back into action on Friday at Tinley Park and are at the St. Anthony High School Shootout on Jan. 6.

Richards roughed up at Hinsdale C.

Richards, which owns one of the top records in the South Suburban Red at 3-1, had a tough time at the Hinsdale Central Tournament, going 0-4.

The Bulldogs (5-7) hope to get back on track on Friday when they host Thornton Fractional South on Friday night.