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Boys basketball: Rugged schedule awaits West Aurora

West Aurora's Spencer Thomas is fouled by West Chicago's Ryan Weier during Jan. 11 game. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media

West Aurora's Spencer Thomas is fouled by West Chicago's Ryan Weier during a Jan. 11 game. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 19, 2013 3:13PM



How good are they?

Friday’s battle in Lombard for first place in the DuPage Valley Conference between West Aurora and Glenbard East kicks off a stretch of seven games in 15 days for the Blackhawks that could be telling, especially with the postseason looming.

Both teams are 6-0 heading into this game, which marks the halfway point of the conference race. West is 13-2 overall and Glenbard East is 10-5.

“Glenbard East has got a lot of balance,” said West coach Gordie Kerkman, who says the same about his team. “Maybe not in scoring, they’ve got a couple bigs who don’t score as much, but (Marvin) Grant-Clark, (Tahron) Harvey and (Jaron) Hall are all capable scorers.”

Grant-Clark, a 6-foot-4 senior wing, is the Rams’ veteran leader. Harvey is a 6-2 senior guard and Hall a 5-11 junior wing.

“Hall is an outstanding three-point shooter and Harvey is very good at setting people up,” said Kerkman, who adds that the league race is far from over.

“I wouldn’t count out the Napervilles (Central is 4-2, North 3-3) or Glenbard North (3-3) either.”

The Rams, whose five losses are by a combined total of 22 points, have gone 4-4 over their last eight games. It includes a 1-2 showing at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament with a nine-point loss to Maine South and a three-pointer to St. Charles East.

Next weekend West plays a league game at Wheaton Warrenville South (Jan. 25), then travels Saturday (Jan. 26) to the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates to meet St. Joseph Westchester in the third and final game (8:30 p.m.) of the 16th Annual National Guard High School Hoops Showdown.

The following week, West plays conference games against Naperville Central (Tuesday) and Glenbard North (Friday), then concludes on Saturday in the Batavia Night of Hoops with a showdown against Benet Academy.

Playoff preview?

Benet and West are two of five teams that will likely contend for the top seed in the 23-team Bolingbrook Class 4A Sectional. The Blackhawks are ranked 10th in the Sun-Times Super 25 and Benet is No. 7.

The Bolingbrook Sectional field has three other teams in the Sun-Times rankings: No. 9 Oswego, No. 16 Neuqua Valley and No. 25 Bolingbrook. Naperville Central, which is one of 15 teams in the Bolingbrook field with a better than .500 record, was previously included in those rankings.

Bolingbrook is probably second only to the field at Argo, which is arguably the strongest 4A sectional in the state with six ranked teams in its field. It features No. 1 Young, No. 2 Simeon, No. 8 Curie, No. 15 St. Rita, No. 20 Brother Rice and No. 23 Bogan.

Seeds for the Class 3A and 4A fields will be announced on the IHSA website on Thursday, Feb. 7 at about 4 p.m. Class 1A and 2A seedings will be announced on Jan. 31.

MLK shootouts,
tourneys

Metea Valley and No. 9 Oswego are in the eight-team field that makes up the inaugural Martin Luther King Basketball Tournament at Wheaton Warrenville South. It opens with four games Saturday with teams playing twice again on Monday.

“You can do two tournaments and four nonconference games with your schedule or three tournaments and two nonconference games, and we elected to get in another tournament and bumped back on the nonconference schedule,” Oswego coach Kevin Schnable said.

Metea opens the event at 3 p.m. against Oak Lawn, while Oswego gets the 7:30 p.m. featured nightcap against the hosts. The Panthers could meet Bartlett in Monday’s second semifinal at 1:15 p.m.

Bartlett entered the week 14-4, and Metea (10-6) is the only team to beat Neuqua Valley so far this season.

South Beloit Tournament — Tuesday’s win over Luther North ended a long holiday layoff for Mooseheart, which hadn’t played since Dec. 15. The Red Ramblers will make up for lost time, though.

They play Rockford Christian at home Friday in a Northeastern Athletic Conference game then travel to South Beloit Saturday and play three games in pool play: Harvard at 12:40 p.m., Orangeville at 3:20 and the hosts at 6 p.m. The Red Ramblers will play one more game on Monday.

“We were rusty (on Tuesday),” coach Ron Ahrens said. “It’s always a challenge, but being a resident facility, it’s more important for our kids to go home and spend time with their families. It’s one of the drawbacks we have to deal with as a team, but I’d never play in a holiday tournament. We need to play to get out some of the rust.”

Guard Peter Kurowski had 10 assists in Tuesday’s win, feeding 6-10 Makur Puou, who had 35 points and 19 rebounds.

“That’s the most assists a player has ever had in a game for us since I’ve been here,” Ahrens said.

Aurora Central takes part in the MLK Dream Classic at Whitney Young High School (212 S. Laflin, Chicago) this weekend, facing Chicago Vocational at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Yorkville takes part in the MLK Day of Hoops Monday at Joliet Central, playing Romeoville at 11:30 a.m. There are seven games that day, running from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. with a $5 admission.

I-8 Tournament

The Interstate Eight Tournament kicks off with four games Friday at the homes of the higher-seeded teams. The winners advance to Saturday’s action at Reed-Custer High School and meet one of the top four seeds, who received a first-round bye.

Plano, the fifth seed, plays host to Dwight Friday at 7, while No. 10 Sandwich travels to No. 7 Coal City. Wins would advance Plano to a 5:30 Saturday date with No. 4 Herscher and Sandwich to a 4 p.m. matchup with No. 2 Lisle. Seneca is seeded first, Westmont third.

Kivisto Hoopsfest

Next Saturday’s (Jan. 26) Ernie Kivisto Hoopsfest at East Aurora features the following lineup of games: 4:30 p.m. — Oswego East vs. Batavia; 6:15 p.m. — Waubonsie Valley vs. Peoria Central; 7:45 p.m. — East Aurora vs. Waukegan.



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