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Disabato: Holiday hoops tourneys provide some answers

Brother Rice's Alex Majewski (35). | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

Brother Rice's Alex Majewski (35). | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 4, 2013 2:33PM



Hey, I enjoy a good, cold glass of eggnog like most holiday revelers. But by the time Christmas Day arrives, I barely can stand to look at the stuff.

Yes, I’m an eggnog over-indulger.

I’m guessing many fans felt the same way after the various holiday hoops tournaments wrapped up.

Some couldn’t get enough of the action, and no doubt will be back in gyms across the Southtland when action resumes in earnest Friday. Others will need a week or two to recuperate from the seemingly never ending dribbling and dunking.

I camped out a few days at the Rich South McDipper, which remains a first-class operation, run efficiently and on schedule. Other tournaments should take notice — especially the 32-team Proviso West Tournament, which I think plays its championship around Easter.

Folks, bigger isn’t always better.

So after all the holiday hoopla, from the McDipper to the Mediocre ... er, I mean, Medieval Classic to the Beach Ball Bash — try saying that three straight times after sipping on granny’s eggnog — what have we learned about the local landscape?

Quite a bit, actually.

For instance, Morgan Park, tabbed the SouthtownStar’s preseason No. 1, is head and shoulders above the rest of the local competition. Coach Nick Irvin wasn’t kidding when he boasted that the Mustangs had “12 Division I players on our roster.”

Morgan Park won 11 of its first 12 games, and did so in convincing fashion most of the time. I’m not going to predict a Morgan Park win over Simeon when the two tangle Jan. 16 at a still-to-be-determined location. But don’t be surprised if it happens.

I was skeptical about 12-1 Marian Catholic heading into the McDipper. But the addition of 6-foot-6 Terrone Parham, who sat out the first nine games after transferring from St. Francis de Sales, proved to be a key ingredient in the Spartans’ winning formula at the McDipper. Parham takes considerable pressure off point guard Tyler Ulis, a top candidate for Player of the Year honors.

After winning 10 straight out of the gate, Homewood-Flossmoor stubbed its toe at Proviso West, falling to Oswego by 21. I’m still not certain what to expect from this group, led by Maurius Hill and Jason Scott.

Brother Rice has won 11 of its first 13 games, including the championship at the Hinsdale South Tournament. Alex Majewski is having a phenomenal year. The addition of Quinn Niego, a transfer from St. Rita, has been a major bonus. If there’s a scrappier player than guard Jimmy Barista, I haven’t seen him. I’m interested to see how the Crusaders fare against a physical squad.

Marist held its own in Centralia, but until it develops an inside presence, the RedHawks are going to struggle against elite teams. L.J. McIntosh and Lexus Williams compose the area’s best guard tandem. But without big man Nic Weishar, recovering from shoulder surgery, the RedHawks have a gaping hole in the middle.

With the exception of Morgan Park, St. Rita, in my eyes, is the most talented team in the area. Charles Matthews, Dominique Matthews, Victor Law and Myles Carter are gifted. The Mustangs finished 2-2 at the highly competitive Beach Ball Bash in South Carolina, which should pay off down the stretch. A lack of a senior leader is a concern, though.

A team to keep an eye on is Lincoln-Way North, fresh off the Medieval Classic title. Granted, the Medieval will never be confused with the McDipper. But the Phoenix are an unselfish group, led by Daryle Morgan, Ryan Pellack and Tre Lewis. We’ll see what North is made of Friday when it travels to Andrew.

It’s been an inconsistent Andrew squad, which is currently 6-5. However, the one constant has been Jubril Adekoya, who routinely reaches double digits in points and rebounds.

Crete-Monee still has to be shaking its head after falling to Bloom in a McDipper semifinal. The Warriors play like their feet are on fire, running up and down the court at a feverish pace most of the time. Twelve times in 14 outings, it’s been an effective strategy.

But if Crete-Monee has any intention of overcoming Bloom in the Southland Conference and making an extended postseason run, point guard Marvie Keith has to remain composed. Keith is a marvelous talent, but sometimes puts too much of the scoring burden on his shoulders. With Laquon Treadwell and Mark Conner, Keith has two studs to whom he can defer.

Bloom gets after it on defense like no other team. The Blazing Trojans came up short to Marian in the McDipper championship. Still, they’re the team to beat in the Southland. Johnny Griffin, Dejahown Freeman and an emerging James Coleman are awfully good.



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