Sports reporter Ross Jacobson ranks the North Shore’s best basketball teams.
While power rankings take season record into consideration, more recent results and news, including known injuries, have a bigger influence than early-season victories or losses. And they are completely and utterly subjective.
Last week’s ranking is shown in parentheses.
1. Niles North (1) – Andre Shaw’s buzzer-beater over Deerfield gave the Vikings their CSL North championship. And it was nice to see that the Vikings can win without a big game from Nader. With their regular season goals accomplished, the Vikings look toward a potential showdown with GBN in the playoffs.
2. Glenbrook North (2) – The Spartans earned a share of their 10th straight CSL North championship by cruising to an easy victory over Maine East. Because this team has played in meaningful postseason games before, they must be considered a favorite to get out of the section, even as a No. 5 seed.
3. Evanston Township (4) – Continuing their up-and-down trend, Evanston destroyed Glenbrook South to clinch a share of the CSL South title after losing to St. Joseph. When the playoffs start, Evanston is going to have to find a way to pull out close games, something they haven’t done much of in the second half of this season.
4. Maine South (3) – A confusing week for the Hawks as they get crushed by Highland Park before winning on the road against New Trier for the first time in 14 years. Palucki is developing into a big-time player and he showed that in crunch time with a last-second layup.
5. Deerfield (6) – The Warriors had Niles North on the ropes before letting the Vikings rally back to steal a CSL North title. Their win over Lake Forest earlier in the week was nice, but Deerfield wanted the Niles North victory before the playoffs begin.
6. Loyola Academy (7) – If the Ramblers’ young guards continue to develop and aren’t overwhelmed in the playoffs, Loyola is going to be dangerous. Jared Prince is getting better every game after his injury and Michael Lang can get hot at any time. They played St. Ignatius down to the wire last Friday after being blown out twice by the Wolfpack and Nnanna Egwu.
7. New Trier (5) – The Trevians’ loss to Maine South reminded us that this team is young, and therefore a bit susceptible to the occasional lapse. Junior Connor Boehm was there for New Trier’s run last year, but this team has been doing it without major contributions from seniors all season long.
8. Highland Park (8) –I’m not sure whether the Giants’ blowout victory over Maine South was a result of Highland Park’s high energy or Maine South’s bad scheduling (three games in four days). Either way, the win was important for Highland Park right before the playoffs.
9. Niles West (9) – The Wolves got another good victory over Waukegan, which was without leading scorer Aaron Johnson. Still their lack of size is always a concern. Niles West will need to shoot better from the outside to make a run.
10. Maine West (10) – Another close loss for the Warriors who are limping into the second season. The draw didn’t give them any favors either. If Maine West gets past its first-round game, they are looking at a matchup with Maine South, a team they lost to early in the year.
11. Glenbrook South (11) – The Titans were easily dispatched by Evanston and Schaumburg last week, scoring 30 and 32 points respectively. At this point, you have to wonder if this team is just going through the motions and waiting for the season to end (most likely next week).
(Covering the Patch communities: Skokie, Evanston, Wilmette, Winnetka, Niles, Highland Park, Glenview, Deerfield, Morton Grove, Des Plaines, and Northbrook. Although this includes most of the Central Suburban League, neighboring private schools that draw students from those communities are also included.)