The 19th annual McDonald's City-Suburban Showdown once again provided a tremendous non-conference showcase of some of the best teams in the area as four of our CSN Preps Power Rankings teams made up the doubleheader on Saturday night at Niles West High School.
Over the years, the Showdown has been a showcase for many of the state — and country's — best players, and Saturday night proved to be no different.
In the opening game, No. 3 Marian Catholic (23-2) took down No. 12 Lake Forest, 67-63, as Kentucky commit and senior guard Tyler Ulis had 42 points to pace the Spartans.
Ulis traded baskets with Lake Forest junior forward Evan Boudreaux for much of the second half, as Boudreaux finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.
The win gives the Spartans another great win in a showcase game against a tough interior opponent, something that Marian Catholic has had some problems with this season.
With the Spartans already securing a No. 1 seed in their Class 4A sectional, this win is just a confidence booster heading into the playoffs.
Lake Forest lost two tough games this weekend to No. 2 Stevenson and No. 3 Marian Catholic, but it showed that the Scouts can hang with the two best guards in the state and still have a chance to win.
The Scouts gave up 56 points to Jalen Brunson and 42 to Ulis this weekend, so defending elite scoring guards is still an issue, but Lake Forest does have a win against St. Viator, who also has a great backcourt full of Division I guards.
In the second contest, No. 2 Stevenson and No. 8 Simeon met in a rematch of last season's Class 4A state championship game as the Patriots came out on top 65-56. Junior Connor Cashaw finished with a game-high 21 points while fellow junior Jalen Brunson added 20 points of his own a night after going for 56.
Stevenson clearly looked like the better basketball team in its win over Simeon, despite not being as long, tall or athletic as the Wolverines. The Patriots had only five turnovers in Saturday's win and they value possession of the ball, take good shots and do little things on defense like take charges and rotate well on rotations.
Stevenson doesn't have great size, but they move so well on the perimeter as a defense. Simeon really moved the ball with crisp passes along the perimeter — and their wings like Zach Norvell and DJ Williams can really pass — but the Patriots met them pace for pace with good rotation and communication.
Brunson also continues to play very well as a floor leader and scorer. The lefty junior can score in so many ways and Illinois head coach John Groce and assistant Jamall Walker were front-and-center once again to see him play — as well as Illinois commit D.J. Williams from Simeon — on Saturday.
Cashaw also continues to show a diversified offensive attack and he just continues to prove that he makes winning basketball plays. He's one of the best overall No. 2 options on any team in Illinois — Whitney Young's Paul White being the best in this role, maybe in the country — and Cashaw has improved his ball handling, strength and perimeter shooting.
For Simeon, they showed they're oozing with talent but they need to corral their energy and limit turnovers. Many times on Saturday, the Wolverines played too fast and made an unforced error against the Stevenson defense. Without a true point guard and relying a lot on Williams to bring the ball up, it can be tough sometimes for Simeon to consistently initiate offense.
But the Wolverines have so many weapons. Edward Morrow is so active on the interior and he had two blocked shots on Stevenson three-point attempts and multiple impressive dunks. Off-the-bench, junior Isaiah Moss had a solid game on the wing as he hit three-pointers with confidence off-the-catch and also had some slashing drives.
Simeon is not going to maximize its potential, however, until Williams becomes a more consistently productive player. As one of the few guys on the high school level with the size and skill that Williams possesses on the wing, he has to be more assertive as a leader, playmaker, scorer and rebounder. While the junior Illinois commit is immensely talented with a big upside, his production can be hit-or-miss in certain quarters and his production hasn't been consistent.
If Williams can do more to get to the rim and create for others or score, Simeon might be in better shape in the playoffs because the Wolverines need a clear leader going into March and he is their most talented player and the guy with the ball in his hands.
After a weekend that also saw Friday's instant classic between No. 1 Curie and No. 4 Whitney Young for the city title, as the Condors won 69-66 in four overtimes, there is a clear top four teams in Class 4A.
Curie, Marian Catholic, Stevenson and Whitney Young are the fantastic four teams from the Chicagoland area when it comes to Class 4A after this weekend and we'll have more on these teams in the updated rankings on Sunday.