The Chicago Elite Classic is back! Yesterday was Day One of arguably the most prominent high school basketball tournament in the city. Chicago is one of the most renowned cities in the country to host some of the best high school basketball teams in America.
Teams include Butler College Prep, Phillips Academy High School, Oak Park & River Forest High School, Fenwick High School, Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Taft High School, and Lane Technical High School.
The day started exactly how it should–the crowd getting into it, everyone ecstatic, and fans booing each other. Unfortunately, the inaugural game between Butler College Prep and Phillips Academy’s girls was entirely one-sided and, to be quite honest, a bit dull. Due to an exemplary performance from Xamiya Walton 19 pts/10 stls, the Phillips Academy convincingly defeated Butler College Prep, 48-40.
Fortunately, things turned during the second game, Fenwick-Oak Park. Fenwick High School, straight off of a football state championship, had arguably the loudest fans during the entire night. The championship MVP, Suleiman Abuaqel, and his teammates led the school in some funny and disrespectful chants toward Oak Park.
But, we can’t forget about Oak Park & River Forest High School fans, who were also competing to be the loudest in the house. The cheerleaders were in sync, cheering on their team and leading them to a 66-52 win led by Sam Lewis 21 pts/13 rebs/3 stls, and Justin Mullins 20 pts/12 rebs/4 stls. But, despite these big performances, the presence of Oak Park & River Forest High School alumnus and NBA player Iman Shumpert may have been the true motivator for the Oak Park crew.
At halftime, during the Oak Park/Fenwick game, Shumpert could be seen on the court hyping his high school up and even going to sit with his team till the end of the game.
NBA player and former Ohio State Buckeye Evan Turner also showed up. Interesting fact: Turner and Shumpert went to middle school together in Oak Park. Turner was also on the Oak Park side cheering, alongside Shumpert. “I had a chance to go to Oak Park and Fenwick so, I’ve always enjoyed the rivalry.” Turner added, “The atmosphere in here is great. I think you guys are doing a great job, Chicago Elite Classic. This is one of the best courts I’ve ever seen for the event. It’s a lot of great energy, and I’m glad to have come back to get some home-cooking, in the sense of high school basketball.”
Homewood-Flossmoor and Whitney Young’s girls put on an enjoyable turnover-heavy game (Whitney Young, 27 and Homewood Flossmoor, 22). There was tension between Whitney Young and the officials, as referees were assessing questionable fouls to Whitney Young, and players were visibly frustrated. Homewood-Flossmoor fought hard with everyone contributing to the team. Also, three players finished in double digits, a recipe for success in most cases but, against an overbearing frontcourt, Whitney Young, led by Skylar Jones, 18 pts/4 rebs/2 stls, would go on to oust Homewood-Flossmoor, 54-48.
Lane Tech and Taft finished out Day One of the festivities. From start to finish Lane Tech played with a mission; they played efficient basketball from the mid-range area and limited their turnovers to an impressively low, 13. Taft tried their hardest to get past the strong Taft defense but it just wasn’t happening as they ended the game with a shocking 25 turnovers and shooting a miserable 31 percent from the field. But, it wasn’t all lowlights for Taft, as Armin Aliloski put on a show in the Credit One Arena, recording 13 pts and 18 rebs. Taft would go on to lose 40-50.
By Jeremiah Griffith, Junior, Noble Academy