High School Sports Weekly

By High School Sports Weekly

DePaul Prep surges to No. 1 in Super 25 with Chipotle championship



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High School Sports Weekly
Thank you for subscribing to the new High School Sports Weekly newsletter! Here’s the latest coverage from our staff as the basketball season wraps up and we look ahead to football in the Chicago area.

Good morning,
For most of the state, the season is over and it is time to look back.
Was the season a success? Evanston played 20 games, which is nearly a full season. DePaul Prep managed 16 games, even though the Rams did have some COVID-19 mitigations to deal with. 
It’s a bit shocking to see that Morton, the largest high school in the state, only played six games. Same for Oak Park. Nearly 50 teams in the area didn’t have a season at all. That number is too high and makes it difficult for me to call this a success. About 140 teams wound up playing fewer than 10 games, which means about half of the teams in the area barely had a season at all. 
The nearly two-week delay Chicago Public Schools and several south suburban districts had getting started with the season was telling. I can’t help but think that a longer lead time with more warning would have allowed more schools a chance to play. 
But it is all over now, other than some Public League action this week. The All-Area and All-City teams will be revealed next week. Coaches and ADs, please send your nominations to me at mobrien@suntimes.com.
— Michael O'Brien, high school sports editor (@michaelsobrien)
Top story
DePaul Prep’s Rasheed Bello (3) switches to his right hand to finish a drive to the basket against Evanston in the Chipotle Classic championship game. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
DePaul Prep’s Rasheed Bello (3) switches to his right hand to finish a drive to the basket against Evanston in the Chipotle Classic championship game. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
Two months ago, the Chipotle Clash of Champions didn’t exist. Former Fenwick and New Trier coach Rick Malnati put it together to give some of the top teams in the area a chance at a season-ending tournament.
It was anyone’s guess as to how it would go and what it would mean. It was the players who would determine that, and they did. The celebrations after victories and tears after season-ending losses showed the tournament mattered to the kids.
Brian Mathews, DePaul Prep’s 6-10 center, wasn’t the star anyone tuned into a livestream to see this weekend. Frankly, the Rams as a whole were far from the biggest draw at the event.
But No. 19 DePaul Prep was without question the best team this weekend. The Rams knocked off No. 1 Young on Friday, beat Fenwick and Kentucky recruit Bryce Hopkins on Saturday afternoon, then dominated No. 11 Evanston 51-36 in the title game Saturday night at Notre Dame in Niles.
‘‘We had a few slip-ups this season, but we came back and we were ready to go,’’ Mathews said. ‘‘We knew from the start we were winning this. We had our mind set on it, and nothing can beat us when that happens.’’
Super 25 update
DePaul Prep skyrockets from 19th to the top spot in the rankings after an incredible weekend that included a win over the previous No. 1 team. Young, Evanston, Simeon and Notre Dame round out the top five.
Check out the complete Super 25 below.
Super 25 basketball rankings for March 14
Mount Carmel’s Kenenna Odeluga commits to Illinois
Turning our attention to football, the University of Illinois’ first in-state recruit under new head coach Bret Bielema is a Chicago talent.
Kenenna Odeluga trusted in the process and it couldn’t have turned out better.
After the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, the two-way standout for Mount Carmel didn’t know if he’d have a senior season and didn’t know where he’d be playing college football.
Now he’s days away from that final high school season and, after a whirlwind recruiting process, headed to the school of his dreams.
Odeluga, who had previously committed to Penn, announced Saturday he’ll be new coach Bret Bielema’s first in-state recruit at Illinois.
“It was kind of a shock, but it was a good kind of shock,” said Odeluga, a 6-foot, 200-pounder who plays running back and linebacker for the Caravan.
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What to watch this week
The basketball season wraps up its final slate of games while the football season finally gets underway Friday, the first day games are allowed under the spring sports schedule the IHSA announced earlier this year.
The last week of the hoops season is all about the Public League. On Thursday, Simeon vs. Phillips and Kenwood vs. Corliss highlight the action.
We’ll have details on this weekend’s football schedule in the coming days but notable matchups set for Friday evening include Lincoln-Way East vs. Homewood-Flossmoor, Loyola vs. St. Rita and Lake Forest vs. Lake Zurich.
Team of the week
Fenger Titans
Team photo: L to R Isaiah Hall, Lemarco Dunmars, Kejuan Currie, Lonnel Strickland, Amarion Jackson, Justin Graham
Team photo: L to R Isaiah Hall, Lemarco Dunmars, Kejuan Currie, Lonnel Strickland, Amarion Jackson, Justin Graham
Fenger capped off a three-win week with a 59-46 victory over previously undefeated Perspectives-Leadership on Saturday. Lonnell Strickland led the way with 24 points, KeJuan Currie had 16 and Isaiah Hall added 10 points. 
The Titans beat Ag. Science (another previously undefeated team) and Harlan earlier in the week. 
Fenger is currently leading the White South with a 6-1 record. Like most Public League teams, the Titans don’t have any non-conference game scheduled. They will finish the season this week with three games. The Titans host Bowen today and UP-Bronzeville tomorrow then wrap things up on the road at UP-Bronzeville on Thursday. 
— Fenger Coach Stephen Collum
Want your school featured in Team of the Week? Send us an update on your team’s season, your name and hometown, and (if possible) a photo to newsletters@suntimes.com.
Thanks for reading High School Sports Weekly. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.
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