By Michael Wojtychiw
The holiday season means more than just spending time with families and receiving gifts. For many area teams, it means the opportunity to play in holiday tournaments and the opportunity to showcase their skills against teams they normally wouldn’t play against.
Below is a roundup of all the known girls and boys basketball tournaments that involved our Chicago Public League teams. If we’re missing any, please reach out with your results and stats, if available, to Michael Wojtychiw, Communications Writer, at email@example.com.
State Farm Classic (Bloomington)
CPL only had one boys team downstate for this tournament, which featured brackets for large and small school on both the boys and girls sides. Despite going only 1-3 in the large school boys bracket, the Phoenix (North Lawndale) got some very nice performances from both Ronald Chambers and Jemarje Windfield. Chambers scored in double figures in three of the four games, while Windfield had two double-digit games, missing out on a third by a single point.
The prestigious Centralia tournament saw two of the Public League’s teams go downstate and take part in it, Payton and Dyett. After dropping their first three games of the year at the St. Patrick/Glenbrook North Thanksgiving tournament, the Grizzlies came into the holiday break on a nine-game winning streak, including a perfect 5-0 record in conference play. After falling to one of Missouri’s top teams, and eventual tournament champion, Cardinal Ritter, the Grizzlies rebounded nicely to defeat Hillwood (Tenn.), putting them one win away from a chance to play for the consolation title. However, Payton lost a heartbreaker to Chatham Glenwood, which hit a game-winner at the buzzer. The Grizzlies’ Nate Raub was named to the tournament’s All-Tournament 2nd Team.
Like Payton, Dyett came into the tournament on a winning streak, having won four straight and also being undefeated in conference play. After dropping their first two games, each by 10 points, the Eagles rebounded to rout Cahokia and Confluence Prep to take 13th at the tournament.
The CPL had a nice contingent at the Chuck Dayton tournament, with Ogden, Manley, Marshall and Phillips making the trek up north to represent the city. The four did so and more. After being upset in its first-round game, Manley, which was the fourth-seeded team in the tournament, rebounded to make a run to the consolation championship game, where it narrowly fell to Plainfield East. The tournament served as a breakout for senior Qi’Andre Washington. Washington, who made the All-Tournament Team, led the entire tournament by averaging 24.5 points per game, was second with 10.5 rebounds per game and a tourney-leading 4.5 steals per game. Phillips was the lone CPL team to make it to the championship bracket, but narrowly fell in the quarterfinals to Guilford. The Wildcats rebounded to win their third game before dropping the fifth-place game to top-seeded and host DeKalb. Jaheim Savage, who scored in double digits all four games, made the All-Tournament team after averaging over 16 points per game…Marshall had a bit of tough luck in the tournament, going 1-3, but losing both its first and last games by a single point. Ja’Juan Cozark had himself a tournament, averaging 20.5 points per game, 9.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Cozark had three double-doubles, all games of 20+points and 10+ rebounds…Ogden struggled in DeKalb, dropping all four games, but got nice performances from Alante Reynolds, including two games of over 20 points.
Brooks was coming back to the Christmas Classic after winning the title in 2021. This year had a different result for the Eagles, however, as they went 2-2, but saw the squad put up impressive wins over Oak Lawn and Dixon. Senior Anthony Vaval was named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 10 points per game.
The Elgin tournament also saw an influx of CPL teams, with six of the city’s squads headed out to the northwestern suburb for the holiday tournament. Three of the six teams made it into the championship bracket after winning their first-round games, led by Kennedy. The Crusaders won their first two games setting up a semifinal against the host team, Elgin. However. a four-point loss dropped Kennedy into the third-place game, where the squad took down Walther Christian 68-61. John Kurysz and Brett Gomez were both named to the All-Tournament team. Gomez scored 32 points in the third-place win. Both players scored 15 or more points in each game. Both Raby and Lake View also made it to the championship bracket after first-round wins, but lost their next two games until Raby took down the Wildcats for seventh place. Mather finished 1-3 at the tournament, but saw Keith Davis-Grove average 15.2 ppg and 8.5 rpg en route to All-Tournament Team honors. He scored 20+ points in at least two games. After dropping its opening game to Lake View, King rebounded to win three straight, including an 11-point win over Aurora Central, to win the consolation title. Bowen also went 1-3, but dropped the 13th-place game.
Morgan Park has struggled early this season due to being short-handed for a variety of reasons but had a nice showing at the HC Classic, winning its first game over Richards on a Randy Wells buzzer-beater, putting it into the championship bracket. Unfortunately, the Mustangs lost their next two games to DePaul Prep and Stevenson before taking down Rockford Auburn in their last game. The Mustangs’ Orlando Jones was named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 15 ppg, including 28 in the last game.
Like the Elgin tournament, this one also had six representatives from the CPL. Taft had quite the tournament, making a run all the way to the title game before falling to the host IC Catholic by a mere point. The Eagles were a well-balanced squad, having at least three double-digit scorers in each contest, Lyle Scibor scored 20 points in both the semifinal win over Christ the King, as well as in the title game. After squeaking out a one-point win over Eisenhower in the opening round, Fenger was snake-bitten in its third and fourth games of the tourney, dropping a two-point decision to Catalyst-Maria and a three-point game to Westmont in the seventh-place game. Catalyst-Maria continued its impressive start to the season by going 2-2, falling to Glenbard South in the fifth-place game. The Wolves got double-digit performances from Derrick Hicks, Kaivon Payton and Rasheed Rice in the opening-round win over St. Edward and 14 or more points from Rice and Hicks in the quarterfinal loss, as well as 11 from Jenari Ward. Alcott, South Shore International and UC-Woodlawn also participated in the tournament, with Woodlawn defeating Alcott in the consolation seventh-place game, while South Shore fell to Eisenhower in the consolation third-place game.
The Kankakee tournament saw all four CPL teams, Lindblom, Von Steuben, Schurz and Dunbar, play in the same division, setting up numerous CPL vs. CPL matchups over the course of the tournament’s three days. That included the first day, which saw Lindblom defeat Schurz behind Kolby Capers‘ 26 points, Je’Shawn Stevenson’s 23 points, 4 assists and 3 steals and Quentin McCoy’s 15 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. The Eagles fell in the semifinals despite Stevenson’s 30 points, but bounced back to take third with a three-point win over Von Steuben. Stevenson had 35 points in that game en route to earning a spot on the All-Tournament Team after averaging 28 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals over the tournament. Von Steuben took fourth, going 1-2, winning its first game over Dunbar before losing to Kankakee and Lindblom. Melvin Holder was named to the tournament’s All-Tournament Team after scoring 14 and 19 points in the team’s first and third games, respectively. Schurz dropped its first and third games but won the middle contest thanks to 26 points and 12 rebounds from Fred Houston. Dunbar rebounded from two early losses to win its final game of the tournament.
Maine East was another tournament full of teams from the CPL, as Westinghouse, Crane, Sullivan, Richards and Jones came up to Park Ridge for the four-day invite. Jones went 2-2 at the tournament, with Ethan Samuels having a nice couple of games for the team, including a 36-point outburst in the team’s first consolation game, a win over Bulls prep. Sam Obioma was vital in the fourth-game win over CPL rival Crane, scoring 18 off the bench. Westinghouse was the lone team to make it to the championship bracket, routing Argo in the opening round behind DJ Bolden’s 24 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds and Terrell Craig’s 20 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds. A loss in the quarterfinals prevented the Warriors from a chance at the semifinals, but the team bounced back with big wins in the following two games. Bolden was named to the All-Tournament Team. The junior had 21 points in the team’s third win in four games. After dropping its first two games of the tournament, Richards rebounded to win its next two, a rout over Sullivan and a one-point triumph over Bulls Prep. Richards got double-digit performances from at least five different players over the four-day tournament. Crane went 1-3 in the tournament, while Sullivan went winless.
Perspectives-MSA made the trek downstate to Pekin and despite going 1-3, got some nice performances from Tomajae Wells and Jason Asante. Wells had double digits in three of the four games, including a 20-point performance in a win over Comer. Asante scored in double digits in all three games he played in.
Pontiac has been the holiday tournament home for Simeon and Curie for a number of years and 2022 was no different. Two of the city’s top squads traveled to Pontiac ready to take on some of the top programs in the state. In retiring coach Robert Smith’s final appearance at Pontiac, Simeon brought home another title, its second in a row. In fact, only Curie and Simeon have won the Pontiac title since 2010, with the Wolverines picking up eight of those titles and the Condors four. Simeon knocked off Curie in the semifinals before holding off a furious Benet rally in the final. Jalen Griffith was named to the tournament’s All-Tournament Team First Team after averaging 15 ppg, including 17 in the title game. In four games, the Wolverines had four different leading scorers. Curie brought home third after dropping its semifinal to Simeon and then taking down a very talented Joliet West squad. Despite getting injured in the quarterfinals, Carlos Harris was named to the tournament’s All-Tournament Second Team. Chikasi Ofoma (37 points, 34 rebounds in four games), Jeremy Harrington Jr. (36 points, 21 rebounds in four games) and Shawn Brown (40 points in four games) all stepped up for the Condors.
The area’s most storied holiday tournament was loaded with CPL teams, including two of the top four teams in Kenwood and Young. The two faced off for the title last year and were looking to give their rivalry, non-rivalry some more heat with their fifth matchup in a calendar year. Young held off Kenwood 58-55, winning its first Proviso title since 2016 and avenged an opening-night loss to the Broncos in the process. The tournament saw the breakout of senior Daniel Johnson. Johnson, who would be named tournament MVP, scored 26, 19, 25 and 16 points in four games. Kenwood’s Dai Dai Ames may have had the performance of the tournament in Kenwood’s opening game, a win over Southland. The Kansas State commit scored 65 points in the win. He and Aleks Alston, who had a breakout tournament, were named to the tournament’s All-Tournament First Team. Alston was big in both the quarterfinal and semifinal wins, leading the squad in scoring both times. After taking down the hosts in the first round, Lincoln Park dropped its next two but had a well-rounded group leading the way. Four Lions averaged between 8-16 points per game, led by Jalen Calloway (15.7 ppg) and Dekari Durham (12.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg). Clark rebounded after a first-round loss to rattle off three wins en route to a consolation title win over Bogan. Two of the three wins were over CPL teams, Farragut and Bogan. Cordy Johnson (15.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3 spg) and Katrell Weekley (14.7 ppg, 7 rpg) led the way…After dropping its opener, Bogan won two straight before falling to Clark in the consolation title game. Dauntell Dixon was named to the tournament’s All-Tournament Second Team after averaging 23.5 ppg. Farragut lost a heartbreaker in the opening round, falling by two to Fenwick in overtime and went 1-1 in the consolation bracket, eventually losing to Clark. The Admirals got nice games from Justin Pickett (10.7 ppg, 9 rpg), Latrell Kelley (15.3 ppg), Jonathan Calmese (11.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 6.3 apg) and Eric Powel (8 ppg, 7.3 rpg). Southland Prep rounded up the last of the CPL teams and unfortunately for the program, went winless in three games. David Shaw stood out, averaging 19.7 ppg.
Rich (Big Dipper)
The Big Dipper featured four CPL teams in the top tournament in the southern suburbs. Perspectives-Leadership showed why so many people were very high on it coming into the season, making a run to the title game before narrowly falling to Hillcrest, 69-64. Jakeem Cole and Gianni Cobb, both of whom made the All-Tournament Team, led the way for Perspectives. Cobb led the team in scoring in the first two games, while Cole did the same for the last two. Perspectives took down conference foe Hyde Park in the semifinals, ensuring their conference finale will be one to watch later this month. Hyde Park bounced back from that loss to Perspectives to take down the host school, Rich, 69-48 in the third-place game. Camron Williford was named to the All-Tournament Team after putting up impressive stat lines all tournament that had him in double-figure scoring all four games. Damarion Morris and Jurrell Baldwin also stood out for Hyde Park. Ag. Science took seventh after defeating Parker 71-42. James White was named to the All-Tournament Team. Longwood fell to Thornton in the consolation fifth-place game. Kenric Mosby (26 points, 14 rebounds) had a big game in the team’s only win, a 64-61 win over Thornridge in the team’s third game.
Uplift hosted a four-team tournament featuring Legal Prep, Noble Street, Senn and Chicago Tech right after the new year started. The round-robin tournament was capped off with the top two teams (after tiebreakers) facing each other and Legal Prep coming out on top by defeating Chicago Tech 47-35. Damarjay Binion and Jamal Craig made the All-Tournament Team for the Wildcats. Craig scored more than 20 points in three of the team’s four games, including 20 in the title game win. Chicago Tech, Legal Prep and Noble Street all went 2-1 in the round-robin, forcing a tiebreaker situation to be held to decide the title game participants.
The CPL was represented by just two squads in this tourney, Prosser and Englewood STEM. Englewood STEM finished 1-3 with a win over Wheeling. Jacob Williams had himself quite the tournament, leading the team in scoring twice, including a 14-point, 16-rebound performance in a win over Wheeling. Damarion Coleman led the team in scoring in the other two games. Prosser went winless in the tournament, but got very nice performances from Xazavion Bell and Latroy Henderson. The two each led the Falcons in scoring twice.
The Montini tournament is arguably the second-best tournament in the state when it comes down to girls basketball, with top teams like Nazareth, Lyons, York and the host Broncos. The CPL was represented by Young, Lane and Morgan Park. The Lady Dolphins made a run all the way to the title game before they lost a barnburner to arguably the state’s top team, Nazareth. Once down 19, Young climbed back to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but fell by four. Skylar Jones exploded in the tournament, earning MVP honors after scoring 21-31 points in three of the four games. According to a newspaper article, the Missouri-bound senior played more than half of the title game with four fouls after picking up her fourth in the second quarter. Destiny Jackson was named to the All-Tournament Second Team. Morgan Park bounced back after an opening-day loss to St. Charles East to defeat both Metea Valley and Plainfield Central by double digits before narrowly falling to Burlington Central in the consolation title game. LaKeeyah Barnes scored in double digits in at least the first three games for the Mustangs, leading them in scoring each game. Lane went 1-3, with a win over Niles North. Cynthia Waller and Melanie Blanco, both members of the talented Champions’ sophomore class, led the way for Lane.
Bloomington (State Farm)
Hyde Park went downstate and competed in the Large School bracket of the tournament and represented the CPL well. The Thunderbirds won their first two games before dropping their next two to finish 2-2 and in fourth place in the tournament. Jazmyne Byrne was named to the All-Tournament Team. The quarterfinal win over Geneseo included a 13-point comeback in the second half,
Northside competed in this four-team, round-robin tournament and came out golden, sweeping the tourney en route to a tournament championship. It’s the second tournament championship for the Mustangs this year after they won the Ridgewood Thanksgiving Tournament in November. Seniors Olivia Petrillo and Cate Shingler were named All-Tournament. Petrillo had a career-high 25 points in the win over Maine East. Shingler had double-doubles in two of the three games in the tournament and a career-high of 18 rebounds against Streamwood.
Northern Illinois Holiday Classic
Amundsen traveled up to McHenry to take part in the Northern Illinois Holiday Classic and came away with an impressive 3-1 record. The Vikings won their pool by defeating McHenry (33-31), Woodstock North (42-37) and Lakes (31-29) before falling to Grayslake North in the semifinals 52-38. There was no third-place game due to the impending weather that was expected on Thursday, Dec. 22. Hannah Lopez averaged 12 points throughout the tournament, including three games in double figures, to lead the Vikings.
Sugar Bowl Classic (New Orleans)
Kenwood traveled down to the Big Easy to take part in the Sugar Bowl Classic, competing with a number of teams from all across the Southeast, including Louisiana and Tennessee. After winning its opening game by 20 over Vanderbilt Catholic (La.), the Broncos held on for a three-point win over Lafayette (La.), setting themselves up with a semifinal matchup with Bartlett, one of the top teams in Tennessee. Unfortunately for the Broncos, the run ended there, as they fell 61-51 in the semifinals. Sanai Tyler was named to the All-Tournament team after averaging over 10 ppg and nearly 8 rpg.