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What we learned from the holiday basketball tournaments

High School Sports Weekly
Happy New Year,
The holiday tournaments came and went and the top five teams in the Super 25 remained the same. That’s extremely rare and an indication of just how dominant the top tier of teams is right now.
It was great to have (almost) everyone back in the gyms over the holidays. The Pontiac Holiday Tournament went off without a hitch, every scheduled game was played. Overall, things turned out better than expected around the area. COVID knocked out nearly two dozen teams, but that is a small percentage of the nearly 400 schools in the area. Hopefully that luck holds the rest of the season.
It appears Feb. 5 is shaping up to be the biggest high school basketball day in Chicago in a long time. It looks like the highly anticipated Simeon vs. Sierra Canyon, CA will have a tremendous game paired with it: No. 1 Glenbard West vs. No. 2 Kenwood. The event may be at Wintrust Arena. Wherever it is, it will sell out and bring more media attention than any game in recent memory. Should be fun.
Michael O'Brien, High School Sports Editor

Super 25 rankings
Glenbard West basketball players react after winning the 2021 Jack Tosh Holiday Classic Tournament Championship game against Lyons. | Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times
Glenbard West basketball players react after winning the 2021 Jack Tosh Holiday Classic Tournament Championship game against Lyons. | Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times
The rankings are usually a little easier to do after the holidays than most weeks. I start with a clean slate. No one cares where anyone was ranked before all these games were played. What matters is what happened in all the tournaments.
So it was a bit shocking that the top five remains the same after all of last week’s action. I don’t ever remember that happening after holidays. It shows how solid that group is right now. It appears that the top six teams may be a notch above everyone else in the area.
Holiday tournament winners got huge jumps in the rankings, obviously. Burlington Central joins for the first time this season after winning in Plano. The Rockets beat Yorkville Christian and well-regarded Peoria Notre Dame.
Homewood-Flossmoor and Hyde Park, two teams that were unranked last week, won at Hinsdale Central and the Big Dipper. Both teams have been in and out of the Super 25. They are back now. Hyde Park knocked off the Vikings the first week of the season so they wind up a spot higher.
Mount Carmel won at Pekin and Larkin won at Jacobs. I know that the Caravan hasn’t played one of the area’s elite teams this season. And they just squeaked by De La Salle and Morgan Park. But I’ve seen them play a number of times and I’m confident in them. DeAndre Craig is a star and the supporting cast around him is exactly what you want in a high school basketball team. They are a really unselfish, hard-working group too.
1. Glenbard West (14-0) 1
2. Kenwood (12-2) 2
3. Simeon (10-1) 3
4. Glenbrook South (13-1) 4
5. Curie (15-1) 5
Glenbard West completes dominant run to York championship
Jalen Griffith, Simeon sparkle in Pontiac championship-game win against Curie
Holiday Tournament rewind
Holiday Tournament rewind: What did we learn?
What have we learned?
That’s the question so many high school basketball enthusiasts always come out of the holidays answering.
Those answers are a little more difficult to come by this holiday tournament season.
Still, Joe Henricksen broke down his eight biggest takeaways from the holiday tourney slate, including this bit on why Glenbard North is still the team to beat:
The preseason No. 1 team is unbeaten, winning a strong Jack Tosh Holiday Classic with ease. The Hilltoppers have beaten a consensus top five team in Glenbrook South, defeated Hillcrest (11-2) and rolled to easy wins over Rolling Meadows (12-2) and Lyons (11-4) at York.
More importantly, the pieces just fit. The length and size the Hilltoppers play with in that 1-3-1 defense can be debilitating for opponents. Plus, 6-11 Braden Huff, the Gonzaga recruit, is difference-making, especially at the high school level.
The biggest challenges lie ahead the Hilltoppers will take on Young in the When Sides Collide Shootout Jan. 22 at Benet, and then play Kenwood Feb. 5 at Wintrust Arena.
Then there is the all-everything state tournament in March. Glenbard West has reached one State Finals in school history –– 84 years ago.
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