High School Sports

Belleville West and Vashon make a marquee matchup at Highland Shootout

East St. Louis's Terrence Hargro puts up a shot against O'Fallon defender Jarvus Smith in a game last season.
East St. Louis's Terrence Hargro puts up a shot against O'Fallon defender Jarvus Smith in a game last season. dholtmann@bnd.com

Over the last 27 years, organizers of the Highland Shootout have lured some of the best area teams and athletes to their high school.

In the past few years alone, the Highland Shootout has included the likes of former St. Louis Chaminade High School and current NBA stars Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics. Countless others went on to the NCAA ranks, including Althoff’s Jordan Goodwin, currently of Saint Louis University.

Presented by the Highland Optimist Club, the 28th annual Highland Shootout will be held Jan. 5. Organizer Matt Powers said last week that the 2019 Shootout will conclude with Illinois 4A champion Belleville West taking on Vashon in a marquee matchup at 8:15 p.m.

The shootout will be represented by teams from Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin and include 12 nationally-ranked players.

The Vashon West game will have five top recruiting targets.

Vashon is led by Missouri recruit Mario McKinney (79th ranked player) and junior Camron Fletcher (No. 42) as well as Nick Kern (No. 147) and Kobe Clark (No. 247). The defending state champs, Belleville West Maroons, are led by Ohio State recruit EJ LIddell and 6-5 senior Keith Randolph.

“In terms of overall depth of the teams, this year’s event may be at the top of the list,’’ Powers said. “I know last year’s field was awfully strong and we had one a couple of years ago which was very good.. But we’re very excited about the teams we have coming in this year.

“We’ve had to do some shuffling this year, more than we’ve done in the past. There are more shootouts now. Quincy is starting one, O’Fallon has one and I think Edwardsville is starting one. But our event has been around so long and has such a good reputation. Teams want to come and play in this event.”

The 2019 Highland Shootout will feature eight games beginning with the Highland girls taking on East St. Louis at 8:30 a.m. That game will be followed at 10 a.m when Normal West takes on Edwardsville in the first of seven boys games.

Normal West was supposed to be led by 6-9 Francis Okoro, who has since been reclassified as a freshman at the University of Oregon.

Other games involving local teams will feature Nashville versus Effingham at 11:30 a.m., East St. Louis against Bloomington at 1 p.m. and Highland versus Poplar Bluff, Mo. at 3 p.m.

Christian Brothers College Prep (CBC) from St. Louis, featuring Caleb Love (45th ranked) will take on Columbia Rock Bridge,which is led by Isaiah Mosley (ranked 75th) at 4:45 p.m. followed by Chaminade playing Milwaukee, Wis. Nicolet at 6:30 p.m.

Nicolet is one of the top teams in Wisconsin and features three top players including Jalen Johnson. A 6-7 junior, Johnson is the No. 4 ranked player in the nation according to 247 Sports and already has offers from Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Kansas.

Tickets go on sale Dec. 1 and may be purchased at www.showclix.com. Session one tickets which includes the first four games, are priced at $8. Session 2 tickets are priced at $14 and are good for the entire shootout.