Talking turkey on boys basketballJoliet Catholic's #1 Shaker Washington drives to the basket in front of Joliet Central's #1 Eddie McElrath at the WJOL Thanksgiving Basketball Classic tournament held at the University of St. Francis and Joliet won 54-41 on Friday, November 25, 2011. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 1, 2011 7:42PM
A couple of visits to last week’s WJOL Thanksgiving Tournament at University of St. Francis and a stop Tuesday night at Plainfield South to cover a fun game between the Cougars and Joliet Central has propelled area boys basketball back onto the ol’ radar screen.
Besides, the first regular-season Friday night will play out only hours from now.
But first, to whet our appetite for the fledgling season, we revisit a few area standouts from last season, from the 2010 WJOL Tournament, who are making waves on the next level, beginning with Plainfield Central graduate Derrick Marks.
The 6-foot-3 guard, our area co-Player of the Year with Lockport’s Karrington Ward, enjoyed a successful November at Boise State University. In six games, he’s averaging 8.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals. He is shooting 59.3 percent from the floor (16-of-27), .656 from the free-throw line (21-of-32) and is one of nine Broncos (5-1) averaging at least 16 minutes.
Meanwhile, Ward and his Lockport teammate of last season, Richaun Holmes, faced one another Tuesday night in a high-profile junior college game at Kankakee. Ward totaled 19 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and three blocks to lead Kankakee (7-1) to a 70-63 victory over Holmes and Moraine Valley (6-3). The 6-8 Holmes, a shot-blocker deluxe, already has posted two triple-doubles in points, rebounds and blocks.
Holmes has committed to play at Bowling Green next season, and Ward, the only in-state player on the Kankakee roster, also is likely to move on to an NCAA Division I program down the road.
Whether any seniors on the floor in last week’s WJOL Tournament are headed for the big time is arguable, but in the mix were some promising underclassmen who could help make our winters interesting the next few years.
Following is a recap of how each team fared and what the six coaches saw in the tournament.
Lawrence Thompson Jr., Lockport (3-0): Thompson said his Porters, with Ward and Holmes gone, need to pressure and then score in transition, and they need better halfcourt offense than they showed at times. He added that everyone is being called on to rebound, and defensively the Porters must take opponents out of what they want to do.
“We have no one here like Ed (Ward), Karrington (Ward) or Richaun,” Thompson said of the bigger bodies of recent years.
Jeff Corcoran, Joliet Central (2-1): Corcoran noted the Steelmen were led in scoring by sophomores Jonah Coble and Jarvis Northington. Those two are proving they belong on the varsity, and they are eager to learn.
The coach was happy to finish 2-1 and win a pool. He said Curtis Parker, a senior leader along with K.T. Carpenter and John Aversa, should have his hands on the ball more, but he spent the tournament doing all the dirty work. He did get more involved offensively in Tuesday’s 57-54 loss to Plainfield South.
Tim Trendel, Providence (2-1): Freshman Miles Boykin sparked interest. “He was a freshman Monday, a sophomore Wednesday and a junior at times tonight,” Trendel said Friday, the final night of the tournament. “Our other players have been begging me since summer to have him on the varsity. They like him. In the long run, he will be a lockdown defender, a rebounder and a point forward on offense.”
Junior lead guard Kevin Kozan did not shoot well, but you know he will. Trendel said he was thrilled to leave 2-1 after going 0-3 last year and said in regard to the Celtics being Class 3A this year, “I think by the end we will open some eyes in 3A.”
Jeff Bambule, Romeoville (1-2): Bambule said his team struggled at times with decision-making and not making plays. He said junior guard Calvin Price runs the point well, makes good decisions, takes charges and hustles but needs to step up and shoot more. The Spartans’ shooting in general must improve.
Steve Lamberti, Plainfield Central (1-2): Lamberti said the Wildcats have to find an identity offensively. Everyone is waiting for someone else to step forward. Along with that comes more commitment to little things.
“We’ve got good kids who are fun to coach,” Lamberti said. “Now we’re asking them all to step up. We need 15 guys who execute.” Lamberti agreed 6-7 senior forward and multiyear starter Andre Norris “may have tried to do too much at times.”
Joe Gura, Joliet Catholic (0-3): Gura said he was pleased how far his young, inexperienced team has come while acknowledging there is a long way to go. He said he had ballhandling help coming from the football team (Keith Craig), and junior forward Ryan Peter “was not the scorer yet that I think he will be.”
By season’s end, Gura promised, “We will be as good as we can be.”