Boys basketball: Plano Christmas Classic features strong field
By Rick Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org December 16, 2012 6:31PM
Senior Taylor Carter (right) is the top scorer for Yorkville, which is seeded third in the Plano Christmas Classic. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
No. 12 Wilmington vs. Dixon, 9 a.m.
No. 13 Aurora Christian vs. Streator, 10:30 a.m.
No. 9 Morris vs. Forreston, 12:30 p.m.
No. 16 Rockford Christian vs. Coal City, 2 p.m.
No. 11 Kaneland vs. Sandwich, 3:30 p.m.
No. 14 Newark vs. Burlington Central, 5:30 p.m.
No. 10 Ottawa vs. Somonauk, 7 p.m.
No. 15 Plano vs. Princeton, 8:30 p.m.
Updated: January 6, 2013 10:05PM
Plano’s Christmas Classic hits the big 5-0 this year and, for the second year in a row, is bigger and — dare we say? — better than ever with its 24-team field.
In Yorkville coach Dan McGuire’s eyes, that’s true.
“I’m not sure why we got out of it a while back, this is only my second year (as the Foxes coach), but I think it’s better,” he said. “It’s a larger tournament and they have some competitive schools in it. To finish in the top half is gonna be a big achievement.”
The Foxes have been working their way up since returning three years ago when Plano athletic director Jim Schmidt began a push to upgrade the field with his school’s enrollment on the rise. There is a strong mix of programs ranging from 1A to 3A schools with a good, competitive group of small-school teams.
In 2010, Jerry Farber’s last Yorkville team reached the semifinals and took third place in the final 16-team field. Last year, McGuire took the reins and the second-seeded Foxes finished second to third seed Belvidere, which returns this year as the top seed.
“Belvidere got off to a 5-2 start (this season), and they play a pretty strong (NIC 10) schedule,” said McGuire. “They’ve returned everybody from last year and are very experienced.”
Seneca, the traditionally strong (2A) representative from the Interstate Eight Conference, was voted the second seed last week by tourney coaches and Yorkville grabbed the third seed.
“Last year Seneca was very young and they’re gonna be pretty senior dominated and they’re pretty deep this year,” said McGuire. “I did see them this summer and they had 14 to 15 guys who looked like they were all cloned.”
The 50th Classic will feature nine teams from The Beacon-News circulation area, and Yorkville is seeded the highest. The Foxes, who are led by 6-foot-1 senior forward Taylor Carter with averages of nearly 15 points and 4 rebounds, moved into a 2-1 logjam atop the Northern Illinois Big 12 East Conference standings with Friday’s 51-42 win at Sycamore. Yorkville is 7-2 overall.
“Taylor’s done a nice job, you look at his stats after the game and he gets a real quiet 14 points, but he does so many little things,” said McGuire. “He started out pretty strong last year then lost some confidence and tailed off but he came on again later. He’s one of a few kids I sat down with after the season and told them they needed to average double figures for us to succeed this year. He’s a very humble kid and quiet but he’s stepped up.”
With the 24-team format, the top eight seeds will not play in Saturday’s opening round of eight games, getting a bye into the second round which doesn’t come until four days later on Dec. 26.
Rounding out the top eight seeds are No. 4 Mendota, No. 5 Hinckley-Big Rock, No. 6 Lisle, No. 7 Genoa-Kingston and No. 8 Indian Creek.
The Royals are 8-2 after wins over Stillman Valley and IMSA last week. They will meet the winner of Saturday’s (12) Wilmington-Dixon matchup. Indian Creek, 9-1 and winners of seven in a row, gets the winner of Saturday’s (9) Morris-Forreston game.
Yorkville goes against the winner of the Saturday game between (14) Newark and Burlington Central, although the Norsemen also have a win over Sycamore this season.
Other area teams in the field include No. 11 Kaneland, No. 13 Aurora Christian, No. 15 Plano and unseeded Sandwich and Somonauk.