The Southwest Prairie doesn’t jump to anyone’s mind when the topic of best basketball conferences comes up.
And it shouldn’t, but it is impossible to ignore that the conference is on the rise. Joliet West and the Fears brothers are already making waves, Oswego East has been producing good teams and steady flow of D1 players for years, West Aurora and Romeoville have exciting young teams and Yorkville’s 6-9 Jason Jakstys is an intriguing prospect.
“The conference has been getting better for several years,” Oswego East’s Mekhi Lowery said. “I think it is probably at an all-time high right now.”
The Wolves picked up their first conference win tonight by knocking off West Aurora.
Bold statements in November are wacky, but here’s one: Oswego East might have a higher ceiling this year than it did last season.
The Wolves were 33-2 last season, so feel free to think I’ve lost my mind. It’s unlikely Oswego East will enter the playoffs with that gaudy of a record (that’s unlikely for any team), but coach Ryan Velasquez has a deep and talented squad that looked more well-rounded to me than last year’s group.
That team set a high bar, losing a one-point game to Bolingbrook in the sectional final. This year the Wolves will have chances to open eyes at Hinsdale Central over the holidays and in games against Bolingbrook, Curie, Joliet West and Hillcrest.
Understandably, Velasquez wasn’t about to make bold statements of his own in November.
“I want to see how we respond to adversity,” Velasquez said. “We aren’t going to go undefeated so how will we bounce back when we lose a game. I like this group but I want to see how resilient we are.”
Tuesday’s top games
Marian Catholic 64, Carmel 49: Quentin Jones exploded for 25 points and James Bullock added 14. James Dwyer led the Corsairs with 13 points.
Brother Rice 81, Morgan Park 47: Ahmad Henderson led with 18 and junior Cale Cosme added 11 off the bench.
Naperville Central 96, Glenbard East 88: What a DVC shootout. Simon Krugliakovas scored 40 points. I’ll admit I have never heard of him. But I’m intrigued.
Joliet West 93, Plainfield Central 56: Sophomore Jeremiah Fears scored a career-high 32 points and Jeremy Fears Jr. finished with 20 points and seven assists. I hear it was a sellout for the Tigers.
Romeoville 69, Plainfield South 59: Meyoh Swansey scored 21 and Troy Cicero added 11 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
Yorkville 66, Plainfield North 51: The Foxes have six transfers and are now a perfect 4-0. Dayvion Johnson, a Yorkville Christian transfer, scored 20.
77 Bolingbrook, 52 St. Charles North: Mehki Cooper is a handful. The senior guard had 30 points and six rebounds.
DeKalb 56, Glenbard West 54 OT: The Hilltoppers lose to an Illinois team for the first time in a long while. Sean Reynolds hit the game-winning three and scored 28 points. Grant added 10 of them.
Fenwick 53, Rich 52: I didn’t see any stats, but I did watch Damian Porter Jr. hit the game-winning three-pointer on Fenwick’s twitter. I’ll see the Friars twice this week. Thursday at De La Salle and Friday against Oak Park.
Kankakee 94, Vocational 33: The Kays open the season with a solid win. Larenz Walters scored 16 and Sam Yohnka, Damontae May and Naz Hill each added 14.
Kenwood 70, Bogan 63: Kind of an interesting final score. Dai Dai Ames had 19 points and five assists. Calvin Robins scored 14 and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Lemont 68, Sandburg 43: Lemont is on a roll. Rokas Castillo scored 25 and his brother Matas added 11. That’s 5-0 now.
Rolling Meadows 68, Glenbrook South 55: Cam Christie poured in 26 points and Tsvet Sotirov added 15. Nick Taylor led the Titans with 19.
Simeon 67, Thornwood 36: The top-ranked Wolverins win the season opener. Sam Lewis scored 18 in his first game with Simeon and Miles Rubin had 10 points, eight rebounds and five blocks.
Manley 73, Providence-St. Mel 62: Senior Jajuan Newby did it all with 21 points, 16 rebounds and a pair of blocks. Freshman Jaali Love added 16 points and nine boards.