Category Archives: Boys

Illinois Boys Hoops: Week 2 Top Performers

Illinois Boys Hoops: Week 2 Top Performers

We’ll be highlighting individual performances from around the state that stood out. We’ve been mostly doing it in girls basketball so far, but wanted to get some boys players recognized. It could be a record, an amazing highlight or anything in between. We’ll be focusing on individual game performances. This will hopefully help us recognize more players and spend less time searching for statistics. 

Stats are critical to highlight these players and teams. Get in touch to submit player at any point during the 2022-2023 season. You can submit stats to our Twitter, @ILL_HS_Hoops and @ill_hoop_scores. You can reach the writer on Twitter, @Kaleb_M_Carter. Site editor and publisher Jakub Rudnik is on Twitter at @jakubrudnik. 

Editor’s note: Not every submission is included in the top performers. Choices made at our discretion. Games eligible to be considered for top performers were played Nov. 28-Dec. 4

David Douglas Jr, Yorkville Christian, Sr. 

Set a new school record with 51 points in an 85-77 loss to Lake Forest Academy. 

Nathan La Plant, Andrew, Sr.

Knocked down a school record 11 three-pointers, and second record with 45 points, in an Andrew win over Argo. 

Wesely Shats, Reed-Custer, Sr. 

22 points, 9 rebounds in a 62-46 win over Herscher. 

Max Johnson, Oak Park And River Forest, Jr.

Scored 29 points as the Huskies defeated Orr Academy. 

Quentin Jones, Marian Catholic, Sr. 

The Cal Poly recruit had 25 points in a 64-49 win over Carmel Catholic.

Martin Ledbetter, Hinckley-Big Rock

23 points, 14  rebounds vs. Elgin in a 54-26 win.

Melvin Holder, Von Steuben, Sr.

Totaled 24 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists in a 61-19 win over North Grand. 

Chris Bush, Champaign Central, So.

Scored 21 points with 8 rebounds vs. Peoria.

Brett Gomez, Kennedy, Sr.

Had 27 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds Saturday vs. Leyden in a loss. 

Jack Hiveley, Byron, Jr.

Made 8 of his team’s 16 3-pointers and scored 32 points in a 78-59 win over Mendota.

Nathan Young, Antioch, Sr. 

19 point, 5 rebounds, 2 steals in a win over Lift For Life (MO.)

James Stevenson Jr., Momence, Sr. 

In a tight 53-52 win over St. Anne scored 32 points and had 14 rebonds, 6 steals and 6 blocks. 

Dai Dai Ames, Kenwood, Sr. 

30 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds in an 87-58 win over Lindblom. 

Calvin Robins, Kenwood, Jr. 

Scored 21 points in a huge 72-66 win over Joliet West at the Chicago Elite Classic.

Lucas Whittington, West Frankfort, Sr. 

Put up 22 points in an 80-46 win over Cairo. 

Caleb David, Francis W. Parker, Sr.

The senior scored 27 points, added 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. 

Angelo Ciaravino, Mt. Carmel, Jr. 

Scored 26 in a win over North Lawndale. 

Ethan Samuels, Jones College Prep, Jr.

In an 76-61 victory over Northside Prep, scored 35. 

Adyn McGinley, Beecher, Jr. 

Produced 27 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals as Beecher beat Donovan by 95-40. 

Arion Johnson, Hubbard, Sr. 

Scored 40 points on 14-of-21 shooting (9 3’s), had 7 steals and 5 rebounds vs. Englewood STEM. 

Wyatt Lipcaman, Griggsville-Perry, Jr.

30 points as his team beat Carrollton by 27. 

Luke Williams, Naperville North, Jr.

Posted 27 points, including 4 three-pointers as the Huskies beat King 55-34. 

Josue Valdemar, Lake County Baptist, Sr. 

Scored 42 points in a 48-37 win over Westfair Christian.

Malachi Persinger, Peoria Christian, So. 

Totaled 25 points, 7 assists in a win vs. Illinois Valley Central. 

Simon Krugliakovas, Napervillle Central, Sr. 

Boasted a 40-point performance after a 96-88 win over Glenbard East. 

Logan Morse, Farmington, Sr.

The senior had 33 points in a 76-71 victory over Tremont.

Mekhi Cooper, Bolingbrook, Sr. 

The Miami signee put up 30 in a win vs. St. Charles North.

Sean Reynolds, DeKalb, So. 

Hit 8 three-pointers and put up 28 points in handing Glenbard West its first in-state loss since the shortened covid season in 2021. 

Larenz Walters, Kankakee, Jr. 

Dominated with a 35-point, 6-rebound, 6-steal and 5 assists game in a 97-45 win over Butler College Prep. 

Gerardo Alanis, Arcola, Jr.

Scored 26 points in a win over University High. 

Top Performers: Illinois Boys Week 1 Standouts

Top Performers: Illinois Boys Week 1 Standouts

By Kaleb Carter

We’ll be highlighting individual performances from around the state that stood out. We’ve been mostly doing it in girls basketball so far, but wanted to get some boys players recognized. It could be a state record, an amazing highlight or anything in between. We’ll be focusing on individual game performances. This will hopefully help us recognize more players and spend less time searching for statistics. 

Stats are critical to highlight these players and teams. Get in touch to submit player at any point during the 2022-2023 season. You can submit stats to our Twitter, @ILL_HS_Hoops and @ill_hoop_scores. You can reach the writer on Twitter, @Kaleb_M_Carter. Site editor and publisher Jakub Rudnik is on Twitter at @jakubrudnik. 

Editor’s note: Not every submission is included in the top performers. Choices made at our discretion. Games eligible to be considered for top performers were played Nov. 21-27.

Tyler Franklin, Cobden, Sr.

Scored a school-record 57 points as the Appleknockers defeated Gallatia

Danny Stephens, Southeastern (Piasa), Sr.



Put up 52 points in a win over West Central to help his team win the Beardstown tourney.

Xavier Sulaiman, Oak Lawn, Sr. 


The rising guard/wing scored 33 with 3 assists vs. Mt. Carmel in the championship game of the Spartan-Ram tourney and won MVP hours. 


Cris Farrell, Lisle, Sr. 


21 points, 20 rebounds in a Lisle win vs. Evergreen Park.

Al Brooks, Hansberry College Prep, Jr.


In a game of what must have been a neckbreaking, quick pace, we’re told Brooks had 44 points, 30 rebounds and 9 blocks. His brother Ikee added 23 points, 14 rebounds in the game, an 89-75 win over Richards. 


Turns out, the pace of play in Hansberry games is in fact, quite fast.

Dominic Jankowski, Grayslake North, Sr. 


Totaled a school-record 46 points as GN defeated Streamwood 87-58.


Brady Clark, Kewanee, Jr. 


30 points, 5 rebounds as the Boilermakers defeated Geneseo.


Jonathan Ireland, Danville, Sr. 


Scored 30 points and hit 4 three-pointers in a loss to Mahomet-Seymour.


Cameron Atkinson, Rock Island, Sr. 


Was named MVP of the Rock Island Turkey Tournament Classic following a 33-point performance He hit 5 three-pointers in the first half. 


Kelton McEwen, Bartlett, Jr. 


37 points, 5 assists and 4 steals as the Hawks defeated Wheaton Academy. 


James Stevenson Jr., Momence, Sr.


Scored 32, pulled down 7 rebounds and dished out 6 assists in a 60-47 victory against Ridgeview in the Rt 17 Classic Championship Game. 


Cordy “CJ” Johnson, Michelle Clark, Sr.


Contributed 30 points, 5 steals 4 assists as Clark beat Jefferson 72-50. 


Rokas Castillo, Lemont, Sr.


The senior guard posted 32 points and earned MVP honors at the WJOL tourney. 


Je’Shawn Stevenson, Lindblom, Jr. 


Was MVP at Stagg’s tourney had 32 points 12-of 12 free throws, 5 rebounds, 3 steals in a 64-62 win over Nazareth. 


Ross Robertson, South Beloit, So. 


The big sophomore had 29 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks in a 73-39 victory over Aquin.


Isaac Hosman, Massac County, Jr. 


Boasted a line 27 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds


Nolan Sexton, Evergreen Park, Jr. 


Tallied 31 points in the Mustangs’ win over West Chicago. 


Walter Hill Jr., Rockford Lutheran, Sr. 


Registered 34 points as Rockford Lutheran defeated St.Charles North 92-76.


John Kurysz, Kennedy, Sr.


30 points, 14 rebounds as he led his team to a 72-67 victory over Sandburg. 


Jaheim Savage, Phillips, Sr. 


Savage totaled 31 points as the Wildcats downed East Peoria 81-68.


Asa Thomas, Lake Forest, Sr. 


Dropped 32 points with 5 three-pointers and had 8 rebounds in a 62-38 Scouts victory over Bulls Prep.


Brock Harding, Moline, Sr. 


The Iowa commit scored 34 in a 90-80 loss to Wisconsin Lutheran. 


Gianni Cobb, Perspectives Leadership, Jr. 


29 points, 6 steals, 3 rebounds, 2 assists in a win over Andrew. 


Roderick Gatewood, Meridian, Sr.


Scored 32 in a Meridian 71-57 victory over Elverado.


Masin Presser, Pope County


Scored 38 of his team’s 75 in a win over Joppa. 


Davee Flowers, Niles West, Jr. 


33 points in a Wolves victory against Payton College Prep.


Cole Certa, Bloomington Central Catholic, Jr. 


In a 70-66 victory over Bloomington, Certa dropped 38 points.


Micah Meiss, El Paso-Gridley, So.


Had 29 points, 10 boards as his squad defeated Olympia. 


Ty’Zae Rowland, Grayville, Jr. 


37 points in a 71-62 victory over Edwards County.


Nate Turley, Greenview, Jr. 


Posted 32 points on 12-of-16 shooting, added 12 rebounds and 6 steals in a win over Lowpoint-Washburn. 


Schwieger, Welch Have Big Roles for Loyola to Begin Season

Schwieger, Welch Have Big Roles for Loyola to Begin Season

Christian Jones’ defense, acumen giving him time on floor for UIC

By Kaleb Carter

CHICAGO — Ben Schwieger had gone quite a while without playing in regular-season, competitive basketball games. Schwieger wasn’t thrust into a critical role upon his arrival on the Loyola University campus, taking a redshirt season in 2021-22.

This season it’s full steam ahead, and Schwieger looks ready to ramble.

“Playing with more physicality for offense and defense, defensively just dictating where the other team is going to go,” Schweiger said, discussing his immediate priorities for improvement. “And then offensively being aggressive and just keeping that mindset.

“(My) goals as a Rambler, win as many championships as possible, whether it’s our Thanksgiving Myrtle Beach Tournament, bring back a championship,” he added. “Or March Madness winning games and getting some hardware.”

After a quiet first Loyola home game, Schwieger was big early on his way to 14 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in a 70-63 road win over the UIC Flames. He looked somewhat tentative with the ball at times in the first half, but shook that and played with confidence as the game wore on. 

“Today is what we wanted to see,” Loyola second-year coach Drew Valentine said after the UIC game. “I thought he was super aggressive and super assertive. Ben is super talented, and the last two games (one exhibition) we’ve played prior to today, he’s looked like a freshman that was scared to mess up or scared to fail. Mess up would be with me, fail would be himself internally.

“I think today he said, ‘Screw it, I’m going to play,’” Valentine continued. “What you guys saw today, that’s what he looked like the last two months of the year on scout team when he started against guys like Lucas Williamson … and Tate Hall, it was like that every day. We’ve been excited about Ben.”

Recruited by Valentine as one of prior Ramblers coach Porter Moser’s former assistants, Schwieger has maintained a steady relationship with the staff.

“Drew was an assistant when he was recruiting me and then got promoted, and  I decided to stay because our relationship was really close,” Schwieger said. “When I was in high school it was really close and it continued to stay that way. With all the other coaches, it’s like a family relationship. Everybody’s willing to get in the gym with you whenever you need to.”

Schwieger managed 5 points in 17 minutes of play Thursday versus Tulsa. He did not play in a loss to Boise State Saturday due to experiencing bronchitis. Sunday, he sored 8 points but struggled with 6 turnovers in a 67-51 loss to Texas A&M. 

Naperville North graduate and senior Tom Welch is beginning to come into his own after playing a more limited role behind Loyola’s recent string of strong forwards in the program.

Welch was a perfect 14-of-14 from the floor with 25 rebounds through Loyola’s three games (15-of-16 through four games) and is commanding the attention and respect of his teammates. A one-time Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year in boys soccer, Welch has become more vocal and played 23 minutes before fouling out late against UIC.

Welch, who had not averaged more than 10.4 minutes per game over the past three seasons with just one start before this season, has started the first five games for the Ramblers this season. He scored 6 with 6 rebounds vs. Tulsa, but was scoreless in 18 minutes vs. A&M. 

“He’s been great all summer. He’s changed his body, he’s guarding better on the perimeter, he’s shooting it better,” Valentine said. “The other day I challenged him after our exhibition game because… you’ve been in the program for four years now. You’re 72-26 in your college career with a Sweet 16 and another NCAA Tournament. Multiple appearances and the other season was a COVID year and he won 20 games.

“So play like it when you’re out on the court,” Valentine continued. “I think he’s commanding the floor more in a leadership role, kind of how (Cameron) Krutwig used to do from the backside. Since he’s stepping up, it takes the burden off our guys. He’s back there directing traffic. I just like how consistent he’s been with his body.”

True freshman and Tuscola grad Jalen Quinn started Friday evening but played less than he did in the opener, in which he scored 9 points in an overtime win over Farleigh Dickinson. Valentine said Quinn was one of few players on the team who has not missed time due to injury or illness. Quinn added 8 points against Tulsa and 4 versus Boise State.  

Of those players dealing with time off the court due to knee trouble is Brother Rice grad and senior Marquise Kennedy. Kennedy returned to the court Thursday, scoring 9 points in the loss to Tulsa in 20 minutes. He added 8 points and 7 rebounds in the loss to A&M.

Jones Playing Notable Minutes Right Away For Flames

East St. Louis grad Christian Jones played 20-plus minutes for the Flames in the loss to Loyola, tallying 5 steals. One of those steals culminated with a two-handed slam in front of the UIC band. Jones’ energy helped the Flames take a second-half lead they ultimately couldn’t hold on to. 

“You can tell players in practice what it’s going to be like. You can show them on film what it’s going to be like, you can go through practice and put them in situations, but when you get game intensity in the moment, that’s when you really have to rely on your training and your experience,” UIC coach and LaSalle-Peru graduate Luke Yaklich said. “For CJ, he’s going to have an incredible career here. He’s long, athletic and he’s figuring out the game and how to use his skills at the college level and his body right now in order to be the best player he can be.

“He competed really hard tonight, and he like everybody else wants to play better,” Yaklich continued. “But CJ, the great thing about him is his acumen is really high. He’s a cerebral player. He’s going to take this and he’s a quick learner.”

The freshman scored 9 points on 4-of-12 shooting Saturday in a loss to Fordham. 

UIC announced Monday Nov. 14 that Yaklich’s contract had been extended through the 2025-26 season. is an independent sports site fully funded by owner Jakub Rudnik. Consider a small donation to help us pay for the site maintenance and writers. All donations will be used to fund more basketball stories this season.

Vision Clear as Bolingbrook/St. Ignatius Pair Commit to Miami RedHawks

Vision Clear as Bolingbrook/St. Ignatius Pair Commit to Miami RedHawks

By Kaleb Carter

Jackson Kotecki and Mekhi Cooper both feel that there is a well-detailed plan laid out before them. That trust provided to them by the Miami RedHawks coaching staff is what led the pair to both commit within days of each other to the Division I men’s basketball program in Oxford, Ohio. 


Cooper, a 5-10 Class of 2023 guard for Bolingbrook, and Kotecki, a 6-9 Class of 2023 forward for St. Ignatius, both cited a vision shown to them by the Miami coaches in their recruiting visits. Kotecki said he bonded with the Miami coaches more than any other staff. 


“I enjoyed every second of it,” Kotecki said of his visit. “The coaches’ plan for me, they physically gave me …a spreadsheet thing of how they’re going to develop me. They showed me the plan. It wasn’t like they were just saying it so that they gave me confidence that they’re really going to help develop me as a player.”

Cooper said that he believes he’ll develop well under Steele’s tutelage. 


“It feels great to have made a decision the biggest factors (for) me were the coaching staff from Miami showed so much love and support during the recruiting process and got to build a strong relationship,” Cooper said. “I also loved coach Steele(‘s) focus on player development and how much he believes and trust me.”

The pair are familiar with one another, having played together before for travel club Mac Irvin Fire. 


“I’m really excited man,” Kotecki said. “Mekhi was my man on the Fire and to be going to college together is awesome.”


“I know Jackson well, we (played) together one year of AAU, so that felt good to team up with him again,” Cooper said. 

Kotecki is plenty confident in his growing offensive skills, but is aware teams came calling when they saw his defensive capabilities guarding players all over the floor. 


“They (Miami) really wanted me and wanted to build their team around having tall, versatile guys, guys that can play multiple positions, not just one position,” Kantecki said. “That was something I was looking for in a program.”


Kotecki picked up his first offer in June and admitted it was stressful to see so many players around him picking up offers before him. He had confidence in his own abilities, but wasn’t seeing the interest from coaches he expected. 


“You see all your friends that you play with getting offers and you’re like, ‘why am I not getting offers?’ And that starts going through your mind,” Kotecki said. “Just knowing from experience and having to play through that was tough, but I just had to power through that and I did and it worked out.”


The big man said that his coaches, from Matt Monroe with the Wolfpack, to his Fundamental U coaches, gave him the confidence to grow this summer. It proved to be the needed growth for colleges to come clamoring. 


“To go out there and play with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder and be like ‘yeah, I am better than most of these kids that are ranked higher than me and just trying to not worry about that,’” Kotecki said. “Just going out and whoever is put in front of me I’m going to lock them up and I’m going to go as hard as I can through the whole game.”


Both state semifinalists a year ago, (Bolingbrook in 4A and St. Ignatius in 3A), the pair, both verbal commits, bring a winning pedigree to coach Travis Steele’s first recruiting class at the helm of the RedHawks. The RedHawks already have Illinois ties. 

Deerfield graduate Jackson Kenyon is a rising senior on the roster. Senior guard Will Stevens is a Chicago native. Sophomore Bryson Tatum is an Urbana graduate. Steele was also once a men’s basketball assistant at Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel. 


Cooper, a standout at the Ridgewood Shootout this summer, put much on display in his game that leads writers like yours truly to believe he will quickly be college-ready.  Coach Robert Brost’s Raiders do tend to churn out college-ready players with remarkable consistency. 


“This year I really want to get bigger and stronger and this season I’m hoping to get back downstate and get a ring,” Cooper said.


“I know we’ll be able to get back down to state,” Kotecki said. “I have the confidence in our guys. Even though we have a younger team, we lost a lot of seniors, I know the younger guys are going to be able to step up. We’re going to be able to get back down to where we were and hopefully further.”

Ridgewood Notebook: Indrusaitis Settling In With St. Rita; Notes on Bloom’s Brown, WV’s Langendorf

Ridgewood Notebook: Indrusaitis Settling In With St. Rita; Notes on Bloom’s Brown, WV’s Langendorf

By Kaleb Carter

Nojus Indrusaitis is drawing eyes on a national level after an explosive sophomore season. But his prep career has taken him into Chicago, as the rising junior has a new squad.

The class of 2024 wing was previously part of a burgeoning young group at Lemont. Early June he shared his intent to transfer and has been playing with the St. Rita Mustangs since.

He’ll join an already talented group with power conference recruiting prowess from the likes of fellow rising juniors Morez Johnson, an Illinois commit, and James Brown.

After going 23-12 a season ago, Indrusaitis’ arrival places the Mustangs among the upper echelon of the state a season removed from a sectional finals appearance (a 75-68 loss to consensus Illinois top-10 squad Kenwood). 

The Sun-Times’ Michael O’Brien actually had Lemont ranked higher in his 2021-22 end-of-season Super 25 rankings (Lemont at 13, St. Rita at 22). But Indrusaits’ presence makes St. Rita instantly superior to last season’s team in terms of talent on the floor. 

“It was just an opportunity to play against the best, and getting better is my main priority,” Indrusaitis said. “My goal would be to be a better defender for next year.”

At the Ridgewood Live Event (June 24-26) and Riverside Brookfield Shootout (the weekend prior), Indrusaitis’ athleticism was on display. The lengthy 6-6 combo player, said he’s hit a growth spurt since last year.

The capable scorer recently picked up offers from Marquette, Missouri and Iowa. He’s held an offer from Illinois since last season, and has offers from DePaul and Maryland as well. 

Indrusaitis said that needed chemistry with his new teammates will come through time spent together on the court. 

“I want to have a good relationship with them,” Indrusaitis said. “(I’m) looking for the best opportunity like finding out where I could impact winning.”

Indrusaitis has been playing on the Meanstreets 16U AAU team, and is plenty familiar with teammate Brown. 

“Our mindset is to win every time we step on the floor and be aggressive on defense,” Indrusaitis said. “Just being the best that I can motivates me.”

Jordan Brown Finding His Voice for Reloaded Bloom Township

Jordan Brown is an unassuming presence on the basketball court. But he should begin to draw eyes as Bloom reloads with a talented bunch of returners and transfers. 

Bloom lost its top two scorers from a season ago in brothers K.J. and Gianni Cobb, as the pair transferred to Perspectives. 

Brown is a 6-3 senior guard who facilitates aplenty and was able to step into big scoring role at times a season ago. He will have to more in 2022-23 as the top returning scorer. 

Coach Dante Maddox Sr. said that while 6-7 senior center Michael Garner is the most vocal of those on the floor, he’s pushing Brown to take on a bigger role in that facet of the game. 

“I’ve just been trying to use my voice,” Brown said. “I used to be real quiet because I was scared to talk. But as coach is trusting me more, I started to get comfortable with talking to my teammates.”

“Jordan is a 3.5 [GPA] student,” Maddox Sr. said. “High character, low maintenance and is selfless. He is about the team and has been raised right by his family. Family-oriented young man. He will help a program because he is a winner on and off the court.

Maddox also noted that Raeshom Harris, a 6-4 senior guard, will be key in helping new transfers adapt to the culture of the program, as will junior wings Jaden Clark (6–4) and Santana Flowers (6-5). 

Transfers Elijah Livermore (sophomore point guard), and seniors Jayden Watson (6-6) and Lierre Collier (6-2) will contribute majorly. 

At the Ridgewood Live Event, the Blazing Trojans trounced St. Charles North and handed New Trier a double-digit defeat, both of which was in attendance for. Bloom also defeated DePaul Prep and Normal West. 

Brown said he has lofty goals for the season. To get there, he knows his shooting has to improve, and he’s confident the college offers will soon begin to roll in. Improving his shooting is his most immediate goal. 

“I noticed throughout the course of last year’s season, teams having been making me shoot because I go the basket so much, so shooting 100,” he said. 

Langendorf Keys in on Defense for Waubonsie Valley

The offensive production isn’t in question for Waubonsie Valley 6-6 senior forward Jackson Langendorf. 

The Langendorf name has been a feature of Aurora-area hoops the last few years. His brother Carter, once an all-DuPage Valley Conference player, is now playing at Concordia University. 

Jackson Langendorf was an all-DVC player and second team Naperville Sun all-area while averaging 11.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as a junior. At Ridgewood, he showed off an array of back-to-the-basket moves in the post, as well as some face-up looks to mid-range depth. He’s already taken time to add to his offensive game this offseason. 

“I thought I had a good [junior] season, but there was a lot more I could’ve done and it was my first varsity season so I definitely learned a lot,” the rising senior said. “This year I definitely feel like I’ve gotten stronger and more athletic and will improve upon both those things throughout the rest of the summer. I’ve also sped up my shot and cleaned up the mechanics, so I’m feeling a lot more confident in that. And I feel like I’m really versatile, so I’m pretty excited about what I and the team can do this season.”

Where Langendorf knows he needs to be part of something bigger is on the defensive side of the ball in the second year under coach Andrew Schweitzer. 

“We have such long close outs we’ve got to be able to contest while not letting guys just get in the lane,” Langendorf said. “But one of the other biggest things is communication. Again that’s important in any defense but because our defense is always changing — due to personnel or play style of the other team — we really have to communicate. For me, the biggest things to make us successful is playing physical and keeping the ball out of the post when we can, then contesting shots in the corners and definitely rebounding.”

Teammate Treshawn Blissett, a junior 6-5 forward, also garnered attention at Ridgewood. 

For the weekend, the Warriors lost to Glenbrook North, Riverside Brookfield and Marist, but found themsleves in lower-scoring games, seemingly to their liking. Before Ridgewood, the Warriors had blossomed at Normal West’s shootout, which included a 16-point win over Rock Island. 

“The summer has been going really well for us,” Langendorf said. “We went 4-0 last weekend at Normal West, and we’ve been spending a lot of time in the weight room and getting more athletic. As a group this offseason we’re working on getting even better at our defense because it’s our second year playing it as a program and it’s so unique. And we’re also working on sharpening up our offense of course, but I’d say our biggest priority besides the X’s and O’s has definitely been the weight room.”

Glenbard West Finishes Dominant Season, Beats Young in 4A Title

Glenbard West Finishes Dominant Season, Beats Young in 4A Title

Glenbard West celebrates the first state title in program history. (Photo: Chaqwonn Jones)

By Jakub Rudnik

CHAMPAIGN — Glenbard West proved without a doubt that it is the best boys basketball team in Illinois for the 2021-22 season.

The Hilltoppers began the season at the top of the polls, and it closed out the year with a 56-34 win in the 4A state title over No. 2 Whitney Young.

Glenbard West dominated the game much like it did the season: from beginning to end. The Hilltoppers led 13-6 after the first quarter and 25-16 at halftime. A 17-4 third quarter in favor of Glenbard West put the result out of question.

No Illinois team beat the 37-1 Hilltoppers, who only fell to California’s Sierra Canyon — a nationally ranked team — on a buzzer-beater. 

“The accomplishment and the goals that these guys had at the beginning of the season and summer, to maintain them; to never look ahead, to respect all opponents; to play the right way, to have the sportsmanship, the caliber of character they have,” Jason Opoka said. “Words can’t explain how proud I am to be their coach.”

Guard Paxton Warden scored a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Gonzaga recruit Braden Huff scored in a variety of ways, finishing with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Forward Ryan Renfro had eight points and four rebounds.

“Especially this game, just being the last with these guys, it was for sure one I was ready for and not willing to lose,” Huff said. “Big games like these, I just get really amped for and excited for. I think we all do.”

Glenbard West’s all-senior starting lineup of Warden, Huff, Bobby Durkin, Ryan Renfro and Caden Pierce proved once again that it had too many weapons to be stopped. The seasoned group won the first state title in season history. 

“It’s kind of a sad moment, for sure, because it’s our last moments together [as a basketball team,'” Warden said.

Whitney Young matched its second-place finish of 2018. It won a state title the previous year.

Young was the only Chicago team in Saturday’s championship games. Its loss guaranteed the first season without a Chicago state title team since 2006. A Chicago team had one at least one state title every season since Illinois moved to four classes in 2008.

Senior forward Xavier Amos led Whitney Young (25-10) with 14 points and five rebounds. Senior forward AJ Casey and senior point guard Dalen Davis each finished with six points and four rebounds.

Miracle Shot Gives Sacred Heart-Griffin 3A Title Over Metamora

Miracle Shot Gives Sacred Heart-Griffin 3A Title Over Metamora

Sacred Heart-Grffin's Zack Hawkinson embraces coach Tim Allen after winning the 3A title. (Photo: Chaqwonn Jones)

By Jakub Rudnik

CHAMPAIGN — Keshon Singleton’s last-second heave hit the rim, the backboard and then the rim two more times. 

But it went in, and Sacred Heart-Griffin won the 3A boys state title, 53-50.

It wasn’t what the Cyclones drew up with the game tied in double overtime. Instead, a kicked ball forced Singleton to throw up a fadeaway three as time expired. 

“The ball was loose and I was like, ‘Ok, I’ve gotta throw up a prayer to even have a chance,’” Singleton said. “It went in … I’m just so proud we can call ourselves state champions.”

The Cyclones needed many bounces to go their way late to even have the chance.

With 5:11 remaining in the fourth quarter, Metamora scored to go up 38-32. But Sacred Heart-Griffin held Metamora to four points the rest of regulation, forcing six turnovers with a frenetic press. 

“If you start playing defense like that, the whole team will be fouled out,” Cyclones coach Tim Allen said of turning up the defensive pressure. “You have to pull that out fourth quarter, maybe overtime. … That’s exhausting to play that hard.”

Junior forward Zack Hawkinson scored in the paint with four seconds remaining to complete the comeback. He led all players with 27 points and 13 rebounds.

Metamora led 50-46 in the second overtime after two Drew Tucker free throws. Hawkinson answered with a basket in the post to cut the lead to two.

On the other end, Metamora appeared to have a clear lane to the basket but a timeout was called by coach Danny Grieves. Instead of a Metamora basket, J’veon Bardwell made two free throws after a steal and fast break.

On the next Metamora possession, Hawkinson forced Metamora junior Ethan Kizer to dribble off his leg out of bounds. 

The possession change led to the final possession of the game.

Sacred Heart Griffin was in the 2019 state finals before they were cancelled as the pandemic began. The team started the 2021-22 season in 2A before learning they’d be bumped up to 3A. The Cyclones won two other overtime games in the state series.

“When he shot it and it hit the front of the rim, I was just like, ‘It’s going in,’ I just had a feeling,” Allen said. “Our season had been like that. 

“There’s no better ending than the ending we had today,” Allen said. 

Jake Hamilton and Singleton each finished with nine points and four rebounds for the Cyclones.

For Metamora, Tyson Swanson scored a team-high 17 points, including a 10 in a row in the third quarter. Zack Schroeder had 11 points and nine rebounds, and Drew Tucker scored 10 points.

Hoepker’s Heroics Clinch 2A State Title for Nashville over Monticello

Hoepker’s Heroics Clinch 2A State Title for Nashville over Monticello

Nashville celebrates its 2A state title. (Photo: Chaqwonn Jones)

By Jakub Rudnik

CHAMPAIGN — With 2:40 remaining in the boys 2A state title game, Monticello layup put the Sages up six. In a 31-25 game, Nashville’s deficit seemed enormous.

Twelve seconds later, Nolan Heggemeier’s three cut the lead in half. With a minute to go, Kolten Gajewski’s basket made it 31-30 Monticello. 

On the other end, Monticello’s Tanner Buehnerkemper missed a layup, rebounded by Saxton Hoepker. Hoepker slashed to the rim on the other end, finishing his own layup to put Nashville up 32-31.

After a timeout, Monticello wound down the clock. Ben Cresap was forced into a mid-range shot. 

Hoepker was there to deny him, sealing the comeback win for Nashville.

“I feel like we stole one there,” Nashville coach Patrick Weathers said. “I can’t say enough about how resilient this bunch of guys are sitting up here with me.”

Hoepker averaged 15 points per game this season, but he was scoreless until 4:31 remaining in the game. He finished with four points, five rebounds and two blocks — and arguably the two biggest plays of the game.

“For that [block] to seal the game, that’s huge,” Hoepker said. “Kilten [Gajewski] had a great game and carried us most of the way, but that block at the end felt great.”

Gajewski led all players with 14 points and 11 rebounds. He averaged less than six points and six rebounds for the season.

“I think it just goes to effort — I like playing hard,” Gajewski said. “I don’t know really what I’ve changed, but it’s been working lately. Just to go out there and play on this stage has loosened me up a little bit I guess.”

Kilten Gajewski and Saxton Hoepker embrace after winning the 2A state title.

Nashville finished as the 2A runner-up in 2019. Its football team was the football 2A runner-up in 2020. Those experiences helped 30-4 Nashville in its biggest game of the season.

“It’s a huge factor,” senior guard Isaac Turner said. “If it’s your first time playing in a state tournament, you’re going to have nerves. Since I’ve been a part of four of them, it helps me stay calm and play it like another game — not try and force, not try and do too much.”

Monticello was led by seniors Dylan Ginalick (11 points), Cresap (eight points) and Buehnerkemper (three points and 10 rebounds).

Monticello finished 33-4 and advanced further than any team in program history.

“It says here we shot 11-for-31,” Buehnerkemper said. “But I really wanted that last one to go in. I knew if I would have made that we would have won. 

“But one shot doesn’t define me,” he added. “One shot doesn’t define us. One shot doesn’t define the season. We’ve got to keep our heads up high, we did a great job.”

Yorkville Christian Overcomes Slow Start to Beat Liberty for 1A Title

Yorkville Christian Overcomes Slow Start to Beat Liberty for 1A Title

Yorkville Christian senior K.J. Vasser holds the state championship trophy. (Photo: Chaqwonn Jones)

By Jakub Rudnik

CHAMPAIGN — Down 10-8 after the first quarter, Yorkville Christian was in uncharted territory.

The Mustangs had been untested in its run to the 2022 state title game. In order, its win differentials: 62, 44, 40, 44, 34, 38 and 43 points.

Coach Aaron Sovern made sure his team knew there was plenty of game left to be played.

“I said, ‘We can’t play a whole lot worse offensively, and I don’t know that they can play a whole lot better,'” Sovern said. “‘So we’re fine.’ I think I even said, ‘Take a deep breath, let’s go.'”

Liberty played Yorkville Christian tougher than any other team in the state series, but Yorkville won each of the next three quarters to earn the first state title in program history, 54-41.

The game was a defensive struggle early on. The teams combined to shoot 7-of-24 with six turnovers in the first quarter. They were a combined 17-of-48 and 6-of-21 from three in the first half as Liberty clung to a 21-20 lead.

Liberty keyed on Yorkville Christian senior shooting guard and Duke commit Jaden Schutt. He finished with 12 points on 4-or-12 shooting, just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc.

“We looked at film in the preseason, because we knew if we were getting to the championship game we’d be facing him,” Liberty senior forward Logan Robbins said. “I just tried to look for some points I could pick up on, just to try to maybe get a little edge.”

Photo: Chaqwonn Jones

In the second half the Mustangs found their offense without Schutt. Senior guard K.J. Vasser attacked the basket, making 5-of-12 baskets overall and hitting all four of his free throws. He led the team with 15 points. Tyler Burrows hit 5-of-7 shots for 13 points. David Douglas Jr. scored 11.

Vasser was key early in the fourth during a Yorkville Christian run that broke the game open, with a pair of steals and seven points in the span of minutes.

“We went into halftime down one,” Schutt said. “When we play a lot of tough teams [during the season] we’re going to get down. I want to give a shoutout to K.J. [Vasser], just his leadership, keeping guys in it with his intensity. Him and Tyler [Burrows] just being great leaders out there.”

Yorkville Christian finished 25-13 after playing a brutal regular-season schedule filled with 4A and 3A opponents.

“It’s definitely been a grind, and definitely mission accomplished,” Sovern said. “As we’ve said forever, this was our goal at the beginning of the year. I can’t say enough about these guys, they definitely found a way.”

Liberty finished 30-6 for the season, advancing further and winning more games than any team in program history. 

An emotional coach Greg Altmix paused for 10 seconds in the post-game press conference when answering a question on how proud he was of the team.

“Players who are willing to come out and play this way and do what you ask as a coach, they make my job easy,” Altmix said.

“Knowing that a couple of guys didn’t even have the chance to even take the court last season and seeing them come back,” Altmix continued. “You have young men who are going to be successful in life because they’ve learned a lot of life lessons through basketball.”

Whitney Young Bests Kenwood for Super Sectional, City Superiority

In the eyes of Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter, there’s no rivalry with Kenwood. His team beat the Broncos 75-62 at UIC to win a 4A Super Sectional, send his team downstate and take bragging rights.

“There is no rivalry,” Slaughter said. “They have no state championships, we have five. They’ve never really beaten us in anything substantive. I don’t know how that ‘rivalry’ has come together.

“As of today, we have shown that we are the superior program, we are the superior team,” Slaughter continued. “Our girls beat their girls in the state playoffs, sent them home. Our boys have done likewise. … There is no rivalry, that myth is over. You have to beat someone to have a rivalry.”

It was an intense, often chaotic rubber match between the city’s top two teams. Young jumped out to a 23-13 lead on a Dalen Davis jumper to beat the first-quarter buzzer. Kenwood clawed back many times, but the early hole was too much to dig out of.

“You can’t come into these games, in the [Super] Sectional final and jump down to a team like Whitney Young,” Kenwood coach Mike Irvin said. “They’re a veteran team, they’ve been there. We started from behind and never could get over that hump.”

Young got contributions from across its veteran stars. Senior forward Xavier Amos had eight points in the first quarter and the first five of the final frame, finishing with 19 points. Senior forward AJ Casey scored 14 points, including six points and an assist over the final 2:34. Junior forward Daniel Johnson added 15 points and nine rebounds.

But the star of the night was Davis, who scored 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, adding seven assists. He hit a number of contested mid-range jumpers and seemed to get to the rim at will for his patented left layups.

“We have the best guard in the city,” Slaughter added.

Whitney Young heads back downstate for the first time since 2017-18, when it finished second. It won its most recent state title the year before, in 2016-17.

“It was our last time here, so we wanted to leave a mark,” Davis said.

Kenwood’s junior stars Darrin Ames and Davius Loury were electric: Ames scored 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting; Loury scored 16 points and added 11 rebounds. Sophomore big man Calvin Robins scored 12 points and added seven boards.

But 13 turnovers and 3-16 shooting from beyond the arc cost the Broncos. Senior and Nevada commit Trey Pettigrew went 3-for-10 from the field. Fellow senior and backcourt starter Darius Robinson went scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting.

The Broncos project to return several top-rated players in their respective classes to a team that went further in the playoffs than any in program history.

“Next year, with what we have coming back, we should be in position to be No. 1 in the state,” Irvin said. 

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