December 26, 28, 29, 30, 2015

HC SQUARED:  Building a New Tradition of Basketball at Its Best


Veteran reporter George Wilcox previews this year's event with the Guide to the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic:

Guide to the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic
Schedule   (opening round and winner's bracket only listed)
Saturday, December 26
Opening Round

Game 1: Richards vs. Hope, 9:30 a.m.
Game 2: Stevenson vs. Foreman, 11 a.m.
Game 3: Homewood-Flossmoor vs. Lincoln Park, 12:30 p.m.
Game 4: Rockford Auburn vs. Westinghouse, 2 p.m.
Game 5: St. Charles East vs. DePaul, 3:45 p.m.
Game 6: Maine South vs. Urban Prep-Englewood, 5:15 p.m.
Game 7: Hinsdale Central vs. Crete-Monee, 7 p.m.
Game 8: Crespi (Calif.) vs. Perspectives, 8:30 p.m.

Monday, December 28
Game 13: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 3:45 p.m.
Game 14: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 5:15 p.m.
Game 15: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 16: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, December 29
Game 23: Game 13 winner vs. Game 14 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 24: Game 15 winner vs. Game 16 winner, 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 30
Third-place game: Game 23 loser vs. Game 24 loser, 6:30 p.m.
First-place game: Game 23 winner vs. Game 24 winner, 8 p.m.

Suggested itinerary

Hinsdale Central vs. Crete-Monee, Dec. 26, 7 p.m.

The host Red Devils (4-4) will play their first tournament game against Crete-Monee (6-2), the co-leader of the Southland Conference. The Warriors won their conference last season in coach Tom Cappel's 26th season, mainly with Hillcrest. Crete-Monee junior guard Dwayne Rose is the nephew of Bulls guard Derrick Rose.

Quarterfinal, Dec. 28, 3:45 p.m.

The first quarterfinal game should feature defending Proviso West Tournament and Class 4A state champion Stevenson (5-2) against Richards (5-4) or Hope (4-3). Stevenson looks to advance to a holiday tournament semifinal for the third consecutive season. Richards features 6-foot-5 junior Jaylan Catledge, while Hope looks to be a state contender in Class 2A.

Quarterfinal, Dec. 28, 7 p.m.

If Maine South (7-1) wins its opener, the third quarterfinal of the tournament could provide a big challenge if St. Charles East (6-2) gets past DePaul (3-5). The Saints won last year's Upstate Eight and are led by 6-2 guard Evan DiLeonardi. Maine South leans on 6-11 center Brad Perry, who set a school record with 21 rebounds in the Maine West Thanksgiving tournament championship game.

Don't miss

Justin Smith

Stevenson's 6--7 forward is one of the state's top prospects for the Class of 2017. Smith is the only returning starter for the defending state champs and had a season-high 16 points against Glenbard South. Smith already has at least three offers from Big Ten schools, according to 247sports.com, after averaging 10 ppg and 5 rpg last season.

Peter Blust

The 6-7 senior is the top returning scorer from Hinsdale Central's sectional finalist last season. Blust leads the Devils in four offensive categories: 12.2 ppg, 9.5 rpg, seven blocks, and 15 assists. With his 4.25 grade-point average, Blust has been attracting plenty of interest from Division III recruiters. He scored a season-high 18 points against Oak Park-River Forest on Dec. 11.

Jonathan Arenas

The leading receiver from Maine South's football team has carried over his success while leading the basketball team to seven straight wins to begin the season. The senior guard scored a season-high 26 points against Maine West and had 20 points in the Hawks' 47-44 loss to Rockford Lutheran Dec. 13. Arenas was one of three Maine South players named all-tournament at Maine West.

Fresh start

When longtime Proviso West tournament director Joe Spagnolo ended his association with that tournament in 2013 after 32 years, the 53-year-old computer technician for Proviso Township District 209 became the assignment chairman for officials at Proviso West. After Hinsdale Central athletic director Dan Jones proposed a new holiday tournament, he offered Spagnolo the opportunity to run the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic (hcholidayclassic.com). This year's inaugural tournament has two state champions (Stevenson and Crespi Carmelite of Encino, Calif.) and five teams that played at Proviso West last season: Stevenson, H-F, Rockford Auburn, Maine South and Hinsdale Central.


"I want to make this last a long time," Spagnolo said. "This is not a one-and-out for me. This is something for me to do after I retire (in two years). The venue is great. The location is great. The people are great."

Area attraction

The holidays are a perfect time to check out the dozens of shops and restaurants in downtown Hinsdale, just north of the school along Garfield Avenue. For a map and list of businesses in the downtown area, visit www.DistinctlyHinsdale.com.


Twitter: @geomwilcox

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