Considering the last two championship games of the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic have been decided in overtime, this upcoming edition of the annual boys basketball tourney hosted by York likely will provide even more gifts for area hoops junkies.
Last year, St. Ignatius edged De La Salle 47-44 in overtime for the title, while Downers Grove South outlasted Lyons Township 56-55 in overtime to claim the 2010 championship.
The defending champion Wolfpack return as the tournament’s top seed followed by No. 2 York, which features Colorado State-bound scoring machine David Cohn. Third-seeded Waubonsie Valley and fourth-seeded Naperville North are also in the mix.
Locally, Riverside-Brookfield claims the fifth seed and LT slots in at No. 7. Both teams could be viewed as viable title contenders or dangerous sleepers, although tournament draws don’t really concern RB coach Tom McCloskey too much.
“The seeds really don’t matter too much,” McCloskey said. “We’re going to have to play five games in five days against good basketball teams so that’s our focus. I’m sure [York coach] Vince Doran will do a great job running the tournament. We have always enjoyed this tournament and we’ve had our fair share of success.”
The Bulldogs won Tosh in 2001 and also claimed the 2003 consolation title. Lyons defeated RB in the 2009 Tosh championship, and the Bulldogs have finished among the top four on other occasions as well.
After a 2-2 start, RB has recently won six of seven games including a 78-69 victory at Glenbard South (Dec. 18) led by Liam Lesniak’s 18 points and six boards.
Still, the Bulldogs remain a relative work-in-progress with huge upside.
“We haven’t had our core group of starters play together much due to injuries,” McCloskey said. “It’s been a really rough season for [starting forward] Will Kincanon whose dealt with an ankle injury. I feel bad for him because he’s not able to explode like he’s capable, but it is what it is.”
On the bright side, senior point guard Damonta Henry appears fully recovered after a recent injury and center Miki Ljuboja is turning in a superb season.
“Hopefully, we’ll play well at Tosh,” McCloskey said, “and maybe it can be a springboard for the rest of the season.”
Only two years removed from its last Tosh title appearance, LT also enters the fray with an optimistic outlook. The Lions (4-4) have won three of their last four games.
Seniors Chris O’Reilly and Jarryd Heath have led the way via their versatility and scoring ability, along with sophomore point guard Harrison Niego. A Division I prospect, Niego plays with tremendous confidence and poise. Sam Cybulski, Matt Mrazek and others have also contributed to the Lions’ recent surge.
On Dec. 26, LT meets Lane (12:30 p.m.) and RB takes on Naperville North (6 p.m.) in opening round action at Tosh.