NOW PREVIEWING: Boys SAC Holiday Tournament

One year after an SAC Holiday Tournament that lacked much of any true intrigue or drama thanks to Homestead sweeping its way to a championship with three-straight double-digit wins, we enter the 2019 edition of the event with high hopes.

After all, the adoption of seeding the tournament by Sagarin Ratings instead of the traditional coaches vote has led to some questionable rankings, beginning with No. 1 Wayne.

But if the wonky rankings lead to a more exciting three-day event than last year, we will all benefit.

So, who will emerge on top come Saturday night at Wayne? We preview each team’s chances as the opening of the event looms on Thursday morning.

RELATED: SAC Holiday Tournament schedule official for December 26-28, 2019

(1) WAYNE GENERALS (3-3, 1-1 SAC)

Why they are the favorite

Are they though? The Generals impressed many, including the Sagarin Rating formula, when they knocked off Snider on the opening night of regular-season SAC play.

But Wayne has lost two of three heading into the tournament, including a 29-point loss to Carroll. This team is as up-and-down as it comes in terms of consistency. So which Generals team shows up later this week?

Potential tournament star

With the potential for four games in three days, veteran players who have been through the grind of high school basketball tend to emerge as some of the most reliable to step up when needed late in the week.

Senior Michael Redding is Wayne’s leading scorer at 12 points per game and has the potential to heat up over the course of the tournament.

Potential tournament breakout player

Junior Janard Freeman began the season shooting 55 percent from three-point range through the first four games of the year. In fact, all 20 of his shot attempts in those four games were from range.

(2) SNIDER PANTHERS (4-1, 1-1 SAC)

Why they could contend

Snider has just the lone loss to Wayne by three points, a game in which the Panthers played without Michael Eley.

Now, some people may say that shouldn’t matter, but Eley is averaging over 22 points a game.

Both Eley and Dillon Duff have been monsters to start this season, combined averaging over 46 points and 21 rebounds per game.

A Panthers team at full strength will be tough to slow down, but Homestead was able to do it last year in the tournament final, holding Snider to just 49 points.

Potential tournament star

The aforementioned Duff is averaging 24 points and 12.3 rebounds per contest, as well as 1.7 blocks. The senior is tall and rangy enough to finish around the basket and is also deceptively quick on the dribble drive. He is also capable of pulling up from the outside.

When teams look to beat Snider, Duff is the top priority when it comes to defending the Panthers’ offense.

Potential tournament breakout player

Jon Barnes Jr. has been off to a slow start to the season after transitioning from football, where he played quarterback for the Panthers. But Barnes is a cerebral athlete who makes smart decisions on both ends of the floor. A calming presence in the backcourt could be just what Snider needs to beat a good team in a wild environment late in this tournament.


Why they could contend

With the exception of a surprising blowout loss to Marion, Homestead has been, well, like Homestead.

The Spartans are taking care of business on the back of Luke Goode, Zak Krueger and a cast of guys that lack any kind of hype.

Coach Chris Johnson will have his team ready to try and defend its SAC Holiday Tournament title a year ago. Unlike last year, can anyone seriously challenge the Spartans?

Potential tournament star

Luke Goode has scored in double digits in each of his team’s first six games, including a season-high 23 points against Bishop Luers last Friday.

For the season, Goode is hitting 46 percent from three-point range and 75 percent from the free throw line.

Expect a big couple of days from the Division I prospect.

Potential tournament breakout player

Grant Simmons.



The junior is the latest Homestead player to come from nowhere (or more exactly, the junior varsity level) to be a consistent scorer quickly for the Spartans.

In the last two games, Simmons has dropped 20 against New Haven and 21 against Bishop Luers. He has hit 18-of-22 shots from inside the arc. While all eyes will be on Goode and Krueger, Simmons will have a chance to shine.

Homestead’s Luke Goode posts up now-graduated Carroll player Dan McKeeman at Wayne High School during the 2018 SAC Holiday Tournament.


Why they could contend

The Chargers have opened the SAC season with convincing victories over Concordia Lutheran and Wayne. A loss to Norwell last week by two is the only blemish thus far.

This is your prototypical Marty Beasley-coached team. The defense is allowing less than 40 points per game, while the offense is deliberate and calculating as it tries to break you down in the half court.

Potential tournament star

Senior Richie Gross is shooting 57 percent from the field to begin the season. He has been one of the primary reasons in which the Chargers have been able to offset the loss of offensive weapons Dan McKeeman and David Ejah to graduation.

Potential tournament breakout player

Sophomore Jalen Jackson has given Carroll a change-of-pace player in the backcourt, complete with athleticism to get to the bucket and to beat opponents off the dribble.

Jackson leads the Chargers in scoring at over 18 points per game. Look for him to add a different dimension to Carroll’s game at Wayne.


Why they could contend

Balanced scoring to the tune of five guys averaging seven points or more per game, the Archers can lean on a variety of guys in their offensive attack. That can come in handy when playing so many games in so short of a period, with it being tough for any one or two players to stay hot throughout.

South gets Carroll out of the gate to start the tournament in a game that is truly up for grabs.

Potential tournament star

In South Side’s lone loss, Kamron Mitchell buried 11-of-17 shots on the way to a 25-point night. The senior guard has followed that game up with three more double-digit efforts.

Keep an eye out for Mitchell, who scored 14 points in the Archers’ loss to Northrop in last year’s SAC Holiday Tournament.

Potential tournament breakout player

Sophomore Jaylen Lattimore was at Snider a year ago as a freshman. This season, he will try to make a difference with a team across town with the Archers.

Lattimore is strong and confident, a good combination when going up against SAC foes. He enters the tournament averaging 9.5 points and 8.5 rebounds a game.

(6) BISHOP LUERS (3-2, 1-1 SAC)

Why they could contend

Coach Fonso White has built a respectable squad in his second season at the helm of the Knights. The early season has included solid wins over the likes of Mishawaka Marian and Northrop.

Could Bishop Luers compete as a No. 6 seed? It opens with the very team that beat it in its final regular-season game of 2019 – Homestead. The Knights were competitive in that one while falling by 11. Defense will be key.

Potential tournament star

Senior Demarcus Hudson was held to just four points in the loss to Homestead, but previously dropped 26 points in each of the first three games.

The 6-foot-4 wing can fill the bucket when given the opportunity and Bishop Luers is able to feed him the ball in space. He will need to do just that if the Knights are going to upset Homestead.

Potential tournament breakout player

Landon Moore has given the Knights an additional scoring option from his guard spot. Averaging close to eight points per game, Moore had 11 points against Homestead last Friday. If he can continue that success, it will help Bishop Luers try and pull the upset.

Pearson SAC
Concordia Lutheran’s Brayden Pearson brings the ball up the court at Wayne High School during the 2018 SAC Holiday Tournament.

(7) BISHOP DWENGER (1-4, 0-2 SAC)

Why they could contend

It has been a difficult start to the season for the Saints, who got their lone win over DeKalb.

Bishop Dwenger has a decent matchup to open the tournament against North Side, but it is tough to see the Saints making it deeper if the offense doesn’t find a rhythm. Through five games, the team is scoring less than 50 points per game.

Potential tournament star

The guidance of Brenden Lytle has been invaluable on the football field for the Saints, but it has been just as important on the basketball court for Bishop Dwenger, particularly in the early part of the season.

Get Lytle some looks and he can make defenses pay.

Potential tournament breakout player

Sophomore Owen Shively has been trusted early on in his career by coach Matt Kostoff. He did not play last Friday, so his status is still in question for the tournament. The 6-3 forward gives the Saints some size and tenacity in the paint. Some dirty work in the post will be needed for Bishop Dwenger to make a deep run. Shively may be that player.


Why they could contend

The Cadets enter the tournament on a modest two-game winning streak, including a 49-48 victory over Bishop Dwenger that came after senior Brayden Pearson hit a three-pointer from the corner at the buzzer.

The three-point win over Leo was pretty impressive as well, so look over this Concordia team at your own risk. However, Pearson is the key when it comes to earning multiple wins this week.

Potential tournament star

The aforementioned Pearson has been Concordia’s best player offensively. The senior plays with a bit of spunk and attitude that he can back up when it counts. If the Cadets find themselves in a tight game late, Pearson has proven he can perform in the clutch.

Potential tournament breakout player

Senior Jaden Parnin is a sneaky good talent who fulfills a variety of roles for the Cadets. Against Bishop Dwenger, he finished with eight points and connected on both of his three-point attempts. In the win over Leo, he had six points and three steals, showing off his prowess on the defensive end.

(9) NORTHROP (1-6, 0-2 SAC)

Why they could contend

Do not judge Northrop by its record, as the Bruins have played a challenging schedule that has included South Bend Adams (7-0), Leo (5-2) and Lawrence North (6-0).

If the confidence is there for Coach Rod Chamble’s squad, this team could knock off Concordia and advance to the second round.

Potential tournament star

Junior Khamani Smith has stepped up in the absence of Qualen Pettus, who suffered an injury late in football season and is not yet healthy enough to play hoops.

Smith is one of the best players in the conference in getting to the bucket and finishing. With the up-tempo style that Northrop likes to employ and what seemingly takes over at times in the SAC Tournament, Smith’s game fits well.

Potential tournament breakout player

Nick Haines has been more of a scoring option for the Bruins this season, but is far from a household name. Haines can heat up from the perimeter and has the ability to take over a game with his shooting prowess.

(10) NORTH SIDE (1-5, 0-2)

Why they could contend

There is no question that the Legends are improved from a season ago, but they are still well behind the rest of the conference.

The problem with North at this point is the defense, which is allowing over 87 points per contest. You are not going to win a lot of games in the area, let alone the SAC, surrendering that many points per game.

The defense must improve dramatically if North is going to have a chance to win even one game this week.

Potential breakout star

Isaiah Moore has been the most consistent offensive threat for North Side. He will have to have a huge game if the Legends are going to advance out of the opening round.

Potential tournament breakout player

Freshman Brashawn Bassett is the brother of former North Side player Brandan Johnson. There is potential here with the rookie, and could turn some heads in this tournament as a key part of Coach Gary Andrews’ rebuilding project.


















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