Phillips Final Thoughts: Bogan still a title contender after win over Morgan Park

Scott Phillips

Tuesday night saw a big upset in the Public League along with the season openers of two of the most respected programs in the state.

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Be sure to catch High School Lites this Friday at 11 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. We transition full time to basketball season as we'll have highlights and reactions from games all over the area -- including the annual Chicago Elite Classic.

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1. No. 6 Bogan stuns No. 1 Morgan Park to open Public League play

We'll have a new No. 1 in the Preps Power Rankings next week. 

In one of the most heated rivalries in the state, the Bengals took down the nationally-ranked Mustangs with an impressive 71-68 home win on Tuesday night.

The Bengals received a balanced effort as junior Darrion Jones went for 15 points, five rebounds and five assists while senior Antoine Bloxton chipped in 13 points and four assists. Big man Tremear Fraley also had a solid night with nine points and nine rebounds.

Morgan Park was paced by junior Brandon Weston with 24 points while Illinois commit Adam Miller finished with 21 points. 

This is a massive statement win for Bogan early in the season. While many presumed Morgan Park to be the heavy favorite in Class 3A this season thanks to their star power and championship pedigree, sleeping on Bogan is a stupid thing to do.

Head coach Arthur Goodwin is one of the state's best at developing talent as he regularly produces tough and talented players who fly low on the recruiting radar. Jones is breaking out as a potential star in the city this season coming off of a first-team all-tournament opening week in Rockford. 

Others like Bloxton and Fraley earned minutes on a 3A finalist last season and had to go to war with talented players like Rashaun Agee, Tiger Booker and Jeremiah Washington. 

This win proves that Bogan remains a major factor in the city and state title race. At this point, it would be silly to not rank Bogan among the city's elite powerhouses with their yearly consistency. 

The only thing eluding this program, compared to some of the other Public League heavyweights, is a state championship. Goodwin and his program have won at Proviso West and captured a city title. IHSA hardware is the only separation factor at this point.


2. No. 7 Simeon's depth shines in season-opening Public League win over Lindblom

Opting not to play during the opening week of the season, Tuesday night was the season debut for Simeon.

The Wolverines impressed with their depth in a 61-45 home win over Lindblom.

According to the Sun-Times' Michael O'Brien, Simeon used 14 players in the win. Robert Smith's ballclub might be young, but they are also extremely talented. And, apparently, very deep. 

While many top high school programs are star-driven outfits that rely on only a handful of players to take shots, Smith has always preferred to take a balanced approach when it comes to many of his top teams.

Remember, Derrick Rose only had one 30-point game in his high school career playing for Smith and Simeon still won two state titles. This is a program that generally spreads the wealth and gets shots for everyone.

I still expect to see senior Jeremiah Williams and junior Ahamad Bynum take over in choice spots late in games but Simeon might be much better than I believed if their depth can come in and provide a high level of intensity.

Throwing waves of bodies at opposing teams is never easy to face at the high school level -- particularly the length and athleticism that the Wolverines bring to the table. 

3. Three-time defending 2A champion Orr opens season with impressive road win at Danville

You don't often see a Public League team travel 150 miles on a school night for a non-conference game.

But that's precisely what No. 18 Orr did to begin its 2019-20 campaign as they raced past Danville with a 74-64 win.

The Spartans jumped out with an early run and maintained a late push from Danville. Senior Demarius Splunge put up great numbers with a 17-point, 15-rebound, four-steal effort. Sophomore guard Leontae Lilly was also a big contributor off the bench with eight points and four assists -- helping the Spartans maintain control of their lead.

A varsity player the past few seasons who has battled injury and deeper rotations of talented players, Splunge's potential star turn is a major storyline for Orr this season. If Splunge is able to play at a high level each night then it gives the Spartans the go-to player they believed he would eventually become. 

As it stands, this is a notable road win for Orr. The Spartans still look like the team to beat in Class 2A. And, as we've seen in the past, they won't be scared of "bigger" schools in the Public League schedule.



Oak Forest at Rich East, 6:30 -- One of the final games at Rich East's gym as the school is scheduled to close following this school year. The Rockets are a tough out and won't be phased by playing another top-25 team after opening-week losses to H-F and Marian Catholic. Oak Forest will look to maintain its unbeaten record with a tough road game. Jayson Kent and the Avila brothers, Juan and Robbie are one of the toughest trios in the area. 

Jefferson at Rockford East, 7 p.m. -- Keep an eye on this Rockford-based NIC-10 matchup. Jefferson has started 4-0 with a solid first week that included an overtime win over Larkin. Rockford East is 2-2 but lost to Bogan and Pike (IN) and Indiana powerhouse. The E-Rabs were one of the state's best teams last season. I'm anxious to see how they bounce back from the up-and-down opening week against an undefeated team. 

St. Charles North at DeKalb, 7:00 p.m. -- The North Stars fell out of the Power Rankings following a loss to Boylan last week. But they could re-enter as early as next week with some wins during the week. DeKalb is 2-2 after splitting with the Oswego schools (beating East and losing to Oswego), beating West Aurora and losing to Hinsdale Central. With the Barbs joining the DuPage Valley Conference this season, they'll be more of an area focus this season.


Much like college basketball this season, there might not be one clear-cut dominant No. 1 team in the Chicagoland this season. To this point, Bloom has looked like the strongest team in the area. It looks like I might have been wrong in putting the Blazing Trojans at No. 3 this preseason. But it's also a long year. And even Bloom had a scare from Kankakee on Tuesday night.

The Public League looks to be as tough as ever with Morgan Park and Whitney Young both suffering early losses. 

It'll be fascinating to see how many undefeated teams we have in the area by holiday tournament time. Because based on difficult scheduling and no clear superpower, we might not have many undefeated teams entering January.

Phillips Final Thoughts: Bogan still a title contender after win over Morgan Park originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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