December 26, 28, 29, 30, 2015

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

Mike Helfgot's Blog:  Previewing the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic:


Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic

Dates: Dec. 26, 28-30.

Tournament website:  hcholidayclassic.com

Favorite: None. There's no shortage of strong contenders Homewood-Flossmoor, Crete-Monee, Stevenson, Rockford Auburn, St. Charles East, Maine South but no single team stands out as likely to win the first edition of this tournament.

In the rankings: No. 19 Maine South.

Players to watch: Dwayne Rose, Crete-Monee; Jon Arenas, Maine South; Justin Smith, Stevenson; Perry Cowan, DePaul Prep; Marquan Williams, Perspectives-MSA; Jeremiah Matthews, Crete-Monee.

Best first-round game: DePaul's 4-5 record reflects its strong schedule, and the Rams should be a worthy opponent to St. Charles East (7-2) at 3:45 p.m. DePaul's Perry Cowan, a freshman, has stepped right in and been the Rams' best player. St. Charles East has size, experience and as much reason as anybody to make a deep run.

Bracket talk: There aren't enough safe assumptions in the first round to break down the likely second-round matchups and beyond. Talent- and bracket-wise, Stevenson seems like the best bet to reach the semifinals, but the defending Class 4A champs have a new core that is still working out the kinks.

Title-game prediction: Crete-Monee 66, Stevenson 62.

Mike Helfgot is a freelancer reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

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