MIKE NIETO: What does 2014 bring?

2014-01-02T18:00:00Z 2014-09-18T23:35:13Z MIKE NIETO: What does 2014 bring?Mike Nieto Prep Beat nwitimes.com
January 02, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

You would have to say your stocking was stuffed with some good basketball with all the holiday tournaments.

Marian Catholic beat Thornton 75-58 to win the McDipper, the Spartans second consecutive title in the big event of the south suburbs. Marian's Tyler Ulis once again showed how he can dominate games.

The Spartans are 10-1 and know their season is not over and they have to keep up that intensity through a tough schedule.

Thornton seems to be on the right track after a 1-3 start. it had won six in a row before falling to Marian. Jamani Pierce and Justin Taylor give the Wildcats a 1-2 scoring punch and Thornton is playing good defense and creating turnovers.

They have some size in the 6-6 Taylor. D'Quon Applewhite and Leslie Wilson are a good guard tandem. The 'Cats could and should make noise in 2014.

So should Thornwood, which came out of the State Farm Holiday Classic with a 2-2 record. Paul Slavich's team is expected to play good defense and the Thunderbirds as well as Thornton could make a run for the SouthWest Suburban Red title.

Homewood-Flossmoor has been up and down, but with a team that did not return a starter, that was expected. What is also expected is for the Vikings to turn it around the second half of the season.

The Southland Athletic Conference may be up for grabs, but Bloom Township has looked good so far and Crete-Monee has had a few ups and downs.

The Blazing Trojans with Zerell Jackson, James Coleman and Jared Johnson could be tagged as the team to beat, but don't count out the Warriors as Tyler Williams has shown he can put up points. Rich East should not be looked past, either.

On the girls side, Homewood-Flossmoor played well in tournaments in Arizona and Cincinnati. The Vikings, under first-year coach Tony Smith, have depth as well as talent and size. They are looking to not just win the SouthWest Suburban Blue, but to make a postseason statement.

Marian Catholic is doing quite well and like H-F and Crete-Monee, the Spartans have a tough schedule. First-year coach Dan Murray said it is a work in progress and Marian has made progress.

Crete-Monee toughened its schedule and struggled a bit in a Detroit tournament, but the Warriors are the favorite to win the Southland Athletic Conference. Bloom Township had high hopes to repeat, but injuries to its top players in Kat Strong and Danielle King have really hurt the Blazing Trojans and coach Ron Newquist.

There may be some surprise teams the second half. It promises to be a thrilling one and we may a team or two back to Normal and Peoria.

This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at mike.nieto@nwi.com.

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