High school basketball: Michael O’Brien’s holiday tournament notebook

Pontiac - It was great to see huge crowds at holiday tournaments all over the state. This week felt like a really proper return to pre-COVID attendance levels.

Basketball was amazing. Bands like Lyons and Rolling Meadows pacified the skeptics and some new schools popped up, notably Libertyville and Grayslake Central.

Friday’s most important matches (all championship tournaments)


Sacred Heart Griffin 57, Romeophil 41: Zach Hawkinson scored 20 and Jake Hamilton added 19 for Team SHG. What a solid holiday season for Romoville, this experience must be a real shot in the arm for a talented team still finding their way. Mew Swansea scored 15 and Aaron Brown added 10.


St. Louis Cardinal Ritters 58, Evanston 52: Another local team losing, but definitely opening some eyes. The Wildkits have lost to a lot of good area teams but are clearly improving. Prince Adams and Jonah Ross made the all-tournament team.


Geneva 43, United 40: The Vikings won the 95th Chuck Dayton Holiday Classic, which is my new favorite under-the-radar holiday tournament. It is the third time that Geneva has won the championship.


Lincoln-Way East 56, Teutopolis 38: Ty Toliver scored 23 and the Griffins went 14-1, taking care of the business over the holidays. Tolliver, George Bellevue, and Kyle Olajbegi are the championship team.


Shepard 45, Elgin 41: Jermell Lemon scored 18 points, and Payton Creams added 12 points.

Catholic IC/Westmont

Catholic IC 62, Taft 61: That’s nine straight victories and a title for the riders. Looks like this was fun and Lyle Skipper Taft topped with 20 points.


Grayslake Central 56, Crystal Lake South 51: I haven’t seen stats for this, but I’m excited to get out and cover the Rams as soon as possible.

main east

Niles West 74, Maine East 73 2 overtime: Thriller in Park Ridge. Joseph Pantazis scored 24 for Wolves and Timothy Mathew added 13.

Rich (The Great Dipper)

Hillcrest 69, Perspectives - Driving 64: Another massive crowd at the Big Dipper tonight. It’s been great to see all of the holiday leagues bounce back strongly this season. Darion Baker led the Hawks to the title with 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Quentin Headey added 24 points. Jakem Cole led the Warriors with 28 points. It was a great tournament for Perspectives.


Libertyville 64, Glenbrook North 59: What about Wildcats? Aidyn Boone had a monster title game with 21 points and 12 rebounds and tournament MVP Will Buchert added 15 points and 10 rebounds.


Rolling Meadows 56, Leon 42: Last week, Joe Henriksen and I said Rolling Meadows was the most proven team to head into for the holidays. The Mustang delivered completely, rolling to the Championship. Cam Christie cemented his Player of the Year nomination with 26 points in the title game. Mark Nikolic Wilson and Ian Milic each added 11 points. Nick Polonowski led the Lions with 16. It was the Lions’ first loss of the season. You could argue that no team in the region has cemented their reputation more than the Lions did this week.