Boys Basketball: Lemont clear favorite at Romeoville
By Tina Akouris email@example.com December 25, 2012 5:14PM
Crane's Willie Conners looks to pass around Lemont's Paulius Otruskevicius. | File photo
Local Teams: Minooka, Providence.
Local Team: Peotone
Local Teams: Dwight, Gardner-South Wilmington, Reed-Custer.
RICH SOUTH MCDIPPER
Local Teams: Bolingbrook, Joliet Central.
LINCOLN-WAY MEDIEVAL CLASSIC
Local Teams: Lincoln-Way Central, Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way West.
Local Team: Plainfield East
Local Teams: Coal City, Morris, Seneca, Wilmington.
Local Teams: Joliet West, Lockport, Plainfield North.
Local Teams: Joliet Catholic, Lemont, Plainfield Central, Romeoville.
STATE FARM CLASSIC (BLOOMINGTON)
Local Team: Plainfield South
Updated: January 27, 2013 6:06AM
Despite stumbling Saturday against Marian Catholic, Lemont will be the clear favorite in the small school division of the Romeoville Tournament, which is just one of the many holiday tourneys tipping off Wednesday.
At 9-1, the Indians are the apparent class of a field that includes Joliet Catholic, Plainfield Central and the host Spartans.
Lemont coach Rick Runaas uses the holiday tournament as a barometer of where the Indians are and what needs to be fixed in the season’s second half. That holds true whether Lemont has been struggling (the Indians went 8-18 in 2010-11), or surprising (they fell by four points to Crane for the small school title in their breakout 2011-12 season).
“We asked ourselves if we could compete with guys like Crane’s Willie Conner and we played them to within (four) points,” Runaas said. “That gave the kids a lot of confidence even though we lost that game.
“We’ll keep things the way we are and we’ll add as the year goes on, but defensively, we try to fine tune things in terms of the rotation.”
It’s easy to think they Indians are all about point guard Juozas Balciunas, who is the team’s leading scorer. But the supporting cast of Mike Wisz, Martynas Einikis, Joe Hehir and Jack Shereck can do some major damage, too.
Doing the ’Dip
One of the bigger tournaments in the area is Rich South’s McDipper. For a team such as Bolingbrook, it’s a chance to demonstrate that the team is more than just SMU recruit Ben Moore. The Raiders have a couple of other stud players in guards Prentiss Nixon — one of the top sophomores in the area — and Kendall Guyton.
Joliet Central also is appearing at the 40th McDipper. The Steelmen have nicely recovered from a disciplinary issue involving four starters, who were benched earlier this month for violating a team rule. Watch for guard Jonah Coble, who is the team’s spark plug and playmaker.
Fun at Pontiac
The oldest and one of the most highly regarded tournaments in the state, Ponitac offers teams a chance to really gauge how good they really are at this point in the season.
Joliet West, seeded fifth, will test its mettle against a field that features national powerhouse Simeon and perennially strong state programs Peoria Manual and West Aurora.
The Tigers open with Niles West, and if they win they could face either No. 4 seed Curie or Plainfield North.
Joliet West has had a strong start to the season thanks to players such as Morris Dunnigan and Carl Terrell. West coach Luke Yaklich has said the Pontiac tournament is almost like a midterm exam for his team, so it can figure out what needs to be fixed before the playoffs.
Meanwhile, for Plainfield North, playing at Pontiac could erase an earlier showing at a holiday tournament that didn’t exactly go as planned.
North already played in its own tournament, where the Tigers went a disappointing 0-4. An overtime loss to T.F. North served as Plainfield North’s “highlight.”
“When we play to a higher level, we can play with better teams,” coach Nick DiForti said. “I really hope the 0-4 record in this tournament gets us more motivated.”
Providence is playing at Hinsdale South. The Celtics have a potential second-round Thursday vs. St. Patrick.
Providence never has played the Chicago school, which also happens to be where Celtics coach Tim Trendel worked as an assistant before hiring on in New Lenox.