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  • Writer's pictureBig Tim

Top games of the year(per Chicago Suntimes).

Oak Park vs. Fenwick • Dec. 6

Chicago Elite Classic at Wintrust Arena

This has become an early December tradition between two Oak Park rivals. They have big names, Division I talent, were both ranked in the preseason once again and bring energetic crowds. Plus, Fenwick junior Bryce Hopkins is one of this state’s established stars.

Evanston vs. Notre Dame • Dec. 6

Chicago Elite Classic at Wintrust Arena

There will be several terrific matchups over the two days of the Chicago Elite Classic, but this one could be the tastiest. Evanston, fresh off a state runner-up finish, takes on upstart Notre Dame and its terrific junior trio, including 6-5 Louis Lesmond, who played at Evanston last season.

Hillcrest at Oak Lawn • Dec. 6

Hillcrest, boasting several Division I-caliber players in the junior class, is a perennial power. But there are some big expectations at Oak Lawn this season with the return of Sami Osmani and Trey Ward in the backcourt. A perfect early-season measuring stick for an upstart team like Oak Lawn and a tough road date for Hillcrest.

Stevenson at Westinghouse • Dec. 7

There should be more top-flight city vs. suburban matchups in Illinois high school basketball. Stevenson, one of the top teams in the state, heads to the West Side to face high-scoring guard Devin Davis and a preseason top 25 team.

Bloom at Thornton • Dec. 10

Just how it’s supposed to be in the south suburbs. This one takes you down memory lane as an old-school SICA East game, circa 1989 when Thornton great Tracy Webster and Bloom’s Brandon Cole went at it.

Marian Catholic at Notre Dame • Dec. 10

An early season showdown between highly ranked teams that will go a long way in deciding the East Suburban Catholic Conference. Defending ESCC champ Marian Catholic is led by Iowa recruit Ahron Ulis, while upstart Notre Dame features the junior trio of Anthony Sayles, Louis Lesmond and Troy D’Amico.

Morgan Park at Curie • Dec. 10

Yes, another Chicago Public League tussle on the list. But it’s a matchup of ranked teams that have been powers for years but just recently, due to the new city conferences and scheduling, are now playing annually.

Notre Dame at Loyola • Dec. 13

A couple of ranked teams with Division I talent meet up in an early-season between two strong basketball leagues. It’s a Catholic League vs. East Suburban Catholic Conference battle.

Oak Park vs. Stevenson • Dec. 14

Team Rose Classic at Mt. Carmel

Stevenson is a top 10 team in the state while Oak Park, led by junior Isaiah Barnes, is young, talented and dangerous.

Curie vs. Hillcrest • Dec. 14

Team Rose Classic at Mt. Carmel

Perennial powers collide in what should be the marquee game of the two-day Team Rose Classic.

Lake Park at Mundelein • Dec. 21

A terrific non-conference matchup before the holidays featuring two teams that are new to headlines and preseason expectations. Mundelein returns Division I talents in juniors Conor Enright and Scottie Ebube, while Lake Park –– the surprise of the 2018-2019 season –– is a seasoned, tough, veteran team.

Young at Orr • Jan. 10

This one is always a must-see on the West Side.

Joliet West at Oswego East • Jan. 10

On paper these are the top two teams in their respective divisions of the Southwest Prairie Conference. Senior big man Sam Schultz will hopefully be back from injury and Aurora Christian transfer Will Wolfe will have settled in. Joliet West hopes to make a push as one of the most improved teams in the area with five key players back and an influx of young talent.

Hinsdale South at Proviso East • Jan. 17

The West Suburban Gold is wide open. This one could set the tone as they head down the stretch of the second half of the season. They meet again Feb. 15.

Deerfield at Niles North • Jan. 17

The second matchup between these two teams could very well decide the Central Suburban League North. Niles North’s Aquan Smart is a budding star. Deerfield has size and a developing star of its own in 6-6 versatile junior Walter Mattingly.

Simeon at Fenwick • Jan. 20

This begins an absolutely rugged week for the Wolverines with top 10 teams Morgan Park and Notre Dame to follow. And it’s also a nice, big stage for Fenwick star Bryce Hopkins this week with Simeon on Monday and a clash with Max Christie and Rolling Meadows to close the week.

Simeon at Morgan Park • Jan. 23

The Battle of Vincennes never gets old, especially with how the Public League scheduling works these days with just one scheduled matchup between conference rivals. Fortunately, this must-see showdown will be played later in the season, making it even more attractive.

Evanston vs. Bloom • Jan. 25

When Sides Collide Shootout at Glenbard East

Bloom will be among the state’s very best teams with five Division I players. Evanston finished second in the state a year ago and features returning starters Jaylin Gibson and Blake Peters, sixth-man Isaiah Holden and Elyjah Bull, who transferred back to Evanston from Niles North.

Rolling Meadows vs. Fenwick • Jan. 25

When Sides Collide Shootout at Glenbard East

An interesting one featuring two big-time talents. It’s a high-profile event for the state’s top two junior prospects: Max Christie of Rolling Meadows and Bryce Hopkins of Fenwick.

Simeon vs. Notre Dame • Jan. 25

When Sides Collide Shootout at Glenbard East

Notre Dame’s upgraded schedule includes perennial power Simeon in the headline game of this annual shootout. A whole lot of junior talent on display with Notre Dame’s Louis Lesmond, Anthony Sayles and Troy D’Amico, along with Simeon’s Ahamad Bynum.

Cary-Grove at Huntley • Jan. 28

With the tandem of 6-7 Frank Jakubicek and guard Beau Frericks, Cary-Grove will have a bulls-eye on its back in the Fox Valley Conference. Huntley is talented. The second matchup of the season between these two FVC favorites could go a long way in deciding the league race.

Loyola at Evanston • Jan. 28

A terrific Tuesday night North Shore showdown featuring a pair of teams that are stocked with talent and in position to win their respective league titles. Maybe more important? Potential Class 4A sectional seeds at stake.

Marian Catholic at Bloom • Feb. 1

A rematch of the Chicago Heights Classic championship game. You don’t think Chicago Heights will heat up for this one? A pair of schools just a little over three miles apart square off in a battle of highly ranked teams.

Lake Park at St. Charles North • Feb. 7

So many relevant players return for these two teams. As a result, both have big expectations internally and are the frontrunners in the DuKane Conference. This late-season matchup could decide a conference title.

Rolling Meadows at Buffalo Grove • Feb. 7

The Max Christie Show is reason enough to head to Buffalo Grove in early February. But if the Mustangs and Christie’s supporting cast can hang in there, this could be a big one in the Mid-Suburban League. High-scoring sophomore Kam Craft and Buffalo Grove is hoping to emerge as the team to beat in the MSL.

Simeon vs. Collinsville • Feb. 8

Coach Robert Smith takes the Wolverines to the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout to face arguably the best Class 4A team in southern Illinois. Collinsville is led by high-scoring guard Raysean Taylor, who has signed with SIUE.

Bolingbrook at Lincoln-Way East • Feb. 11

While a lot of talk in the Southwest Suburban Blue will center around Bolingbrook and Homewood-Flossmoor, don’t forget about a Lincoln-Way East team that has size, depth and versatility.

Notre Dame at Benet • Feb. 14

The one-time-a-season matchups that take place at the top of the East Suburban Catholic Conference are both pivotal and must-see on the high school basketball schedule.

Stevenson at Mundelein • Feb. 14

Mundelein and its talented duo of Conor Enright and big man Scottie Ebube would love to be in position to thwart Stevenson’s repeat in the North Suburban Conference.

DePaul Prep at Loyola • Feb. 18

The Chicago Catholic League Blue could come down to this late-season tussle between two friendly rivals.

Glenbrook South at Evanston • Feb. 21

CSL South favorite Evanston, led by seasoned juniors Blake Peters and Jaylin Gibson, will try to hold off do-it-all Dom Martinelli and the Titans.

Benet at Stevenson • Feb. 22

Arguably two of the best high school coaches in the state meet. This caps off a rugged three-week stretch for Benet, which includes ESCC showdowns with Marian Catholic and Notre Dame.

Homewood-Flossmoor at Bolingbrook • Feb. 25

These two tied for the top spot a year ago in the Southwest Suburban Blue. Now H-F’s RJ Ogom and Bolingbrook’s Darius Burford, a pair of Division I recruits, headline what will once again be the top two teams.

Hillcrest at Oak Forest • Feb. 28

Both of these teams are primed for big seasons. Can someone rise up and knock mighty Hillcrest off the top of the South Suburban Blue perch? Imagining a league title game played in Oak Forest in the final days of the season is pretty appetizing.

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