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) – The Vikings struggled against Maine East in the first half on Senior Night, but showed their improved defense can carry the team when shots aren’t falling. Their matchup against Deerfield could give them their first CSL North championship in more than a decade. Expect them to get it.
2. Glenbrook North (2) – Minus a couple key contributors, the Spartans still managed to eke out a win over Maine West on Friday. But Glenbrook North must regain the form they had early on. Games against Hersey and Maine East should help their confidence.
3. Maine South (4) – Even in splitting Friday and Saturday games, you have to give the Hawks a lot of credit. They rebounded well from a double-overtime loss against Waukegan to take down Libertyville in Milwaukee. Another challenge awaits on Friday when they face a streaking New Trier team on the road.
4. Evanston Township (3) – Once again the question with this team is if they want it bad enough. The talent is there – shown by taking a seven-point lead against New Trier at halftime – but a lack of energy was the problem in their second-half collapse.
5. New Trier (6) – When playoff seeds were announced last week, the Trevians received the #7 seed in the Winnetka Sectional. They’re playing like a Top-3 team now and are the hottest team in the CSL. Their win against Evanston on Saturday means they have a chance to win the CSL South against Maine South on Friday.
6. Deerfield (5) – For Highland Park, a 13-point deficit is usually insurmountable. But Deerfield showed how much this team has developed over the season with their comeback victory on Friday. We’ll see if they can ruin Niles North’s championship aspirations on Friday and beat the Vikings for the first time this season.
7. Loyola Academy (7) – How different is this Rambler team compared to the beginning of the season? Loyola rallied for a three-point victory over Fenwick on Friday after losing to the Friars by 30 early on. They got a favorable seed in the IHSA playoffs and will be dangerous in the postseason.
8. Highland Park (8) –The collapse against Deerfield was inexcusable and it shows a concern with this team as we head towards the end of the season. As great as their defense is, this is still a squad that consistently has long stretches of empty possessions.
9. Niles West (10) – The Wolves got a key victory over Glenbrook South on Friday. While they are out of the discussion for a conference title, stringing together some victories before the postseason would be a positive trend for this team.
10. Maine West (9) – Although Maine West took care of business against Leyden, they missed a chance to get a big victory versus a depleted Glenbrook North squad. Their matchup against Highland Park will be a big one for this team as they continue to struggle in the CSL North.
11. Glenbrook South (11) – This team can’t keep digging itself into first-half deficits expecting to make comeback after comeback. The Niles West game was a perfect example of the troubles this team has gone through all season.
(This list includes the Patch communities of Skokie, Evanston, Wilmette, Winnetka, Niles, Highland Park, Glenview, Deerfield, Morton Grove, Des Plaines, Oak Park and Northbrook. Although this includes most of the Central Suburban League, neighboring private schools that draw students from those communities are also included.)