Boys Basketball

Trinity, Alton main threats to Chaminade’s 3-peat at Belleville East Chick-fil-A Classic

Belleville East’s Isaiah May drives against Chaminade’s Keyyaun Batchman during last year’s Chick-fil-A Classic basketball tournament at Belleville East High School.
Belleville East’s Isaiah May drives against Chaminade’s Keyyaun Batchman during last year’s Chick-fil-A Classic basketball tournament at Belleville East High School. Special to the News-Democrat

The Chaminade High School Red Devils begin their quest for a third straight title at the Belleville East Chick-fil-A Classic on Wednesday at Belleville East High School.

The team they defeated in a memorable 81-77 title game win last year, Belleville West, isn’t part of the 2019 field. Still, Chaminade will get pushed by the likes of Trinity, Belleville East and Alton, among others, when tournament action tips off with two first-round games Tuesday.

Belleville West, the defending Class 4A state champions, are playing in the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions which begins Thursday at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo.

Co-sponsored by Memorial Hospital, the week-long Belleville East Chick-fil-A Classic is one of the top mid-Winter events in the St. Louis area, said Belleville East Athletic Director Mark Larsen.

“It’s a marquee event. There are several very good tournaments over the Christmas holidays, but as far as mid-winter tournaments held in January this is one of the best around,’’ Larsen said. “The top four teams in the event are vying for their conference titles and have been state tournament contenders in the past.

“The entire field, actually, I think we may have one team which has a below .500 record. It’s an excellent field and we’re looking forward to a great week of basketball.”

The tournament begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday when Champaign Central (8-7) takes on St. Louis Trinity (12-0). That game will be followed at 7:30 p.m. when Normandy (5-6) plays Alton (10-7-1).

Action resumes on Wednesday at 6 p.m when Althoff (9-8) takes on Chaminade (7-5). Host Belleville East (8-10) will take on St. Louis Soldan (11-4) in the final first round game at 7:30 p.m.

Consolation semifinals are set for Thursday with championship bracket semifinals set for Friday.. Four games will be played in sessions beginning at noon and 6 p.m. Saturday. The title game is set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Leading Chaminade is Luke Kasubke, a 6-6 junior, who currently ranks eighth in the St. Louis area in scoring at 22.7 points per game and is shooting over 44 percent from beyond the 3-point line. Juniors Matteus Case 13.2 ppg.) and Harrison Vickers (11.9) are also solid players for the Red Devils.

“Chaminade is the two-time defending champions and so I guess they are the favorites until somebody beats them,’’ Larsen said. “”They are only 7-5 but their record is misleading because they play a national schedule. I know they have the (Luke) Kasubke kid back who is a big time shooter and a top (college) prospect back.”

Trinity has the tallest player in the tournament in 7-foot junior Ryan Kalkbrenner (15.7 ppg, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks), while Jaron Thames (16..0 ppg) is also a force.

Alton has one of the top 1-2 combinations in the Southwestern Conference in Donovan Clay (20.5) and Malik Smith (14.5) while Tyon Huighes (13.8) and Jesse Little (13.3) are the top offensive threats for Soldan.

“Trinity is undefeated and I know they have a 7-foot kid, Alton is always very good and well coached and Soldan is 11-4 and gave CBC a good game the other night before losing. We’re excited. It should be a great week of high school basketball.’’

Tickets will be available at the door and are priced at $5 per session. The Belleville East Chick-fil-A Classic is one of several mid-Winter events being held in the metro east during the next two weeks.

Nashville Invitational

Ranked second in the Class 2A state poll, Nashville (18-2) welcomes Brentwood, (Tenn.) Academy along with always strong Mater Dei, Central and Mascoutah to Nashville High School this week for the Nashville Invitational.

The Hornets (18-2) are in the same pool with Brentwood and Central. Central (10-6) enters the event on a four-game winning streak.

Mater Dei (11-6), fresh off a win over state-ranked Alton Marquette, will have to contend with Mascoutah (12-6) and Granite City (9-6) in its pool.

The title game is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday.

Okawville Invitational

The defending Class 1A state champion Okawville Rockets will host the round-robin Okawville Invitational beginning on Monday.

Okawville (10-6) will be opposed by Wesclin (9-9), Madison (7-9), Gibault (9-10) and DuQuoin in the week long event. The final day is Saturday.

Salem Invitational

For the first time, the East St. Louis Flyers will head east for the annual Salem Invitational which begins on Wednesday at Salem High School.

Fresh off a nine-point win over Alton, East St. Louis (12-5) will battle the Triad Knights (8-9) in their first round game at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Triad enters the event on a four-game losing streak.

The tournament concludes on Saturday.

Sparta Mid-Winter Classic

Freeburg and Alton Marquette look to be the top teams in their respetive pools when action begins Tuesday at Sparta High School.

The Midgets (10-6) lead a group in Pool A which includes Red Bud (1-14), Sparta and Steeleville.. Marquette (16-2) will compete against Waterloo (6-12), Trico and Murphysboro in Pool B.

Action continues through the week with the title game set for 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Jersey Panther Classic

Two of the top teams in the St. Louis area, Collinsville and Highland could be headed toward a title game showdown if they can weave their way through their respective pools at Jersey Community High School beginning Monday.

Fresh off a second-straight second place finish in its own holiday tournament, Collinsville (15-3) will compete against host Jersey (9-10) and Cahokia (2-11) in Pool A, while Highland (16-3) has Edwardsville (3-11) and Pittsfield in its pool.

The title game is set for 8 p.m. on Friday.

Litchfield Invitational

Lebanon (0-13) is one of three local teams competuing at Litchfield High School beginning on Monday.

Civic Memorial (5-12) and Metro East Lutheran (10-8) are also in the pool play event which runs through Saturday.

Benton Invitational

The Carlyle Indians (5-13) will face the likes of state-ranked Sesser-Valier and always strong Benton when the Benton Invitational takes place at Benton High School beginning on Monday.

Class 2A power Pinckeyville and Hamilton County are also in the event which concludes on Saturday.


Highland Tournament

Among those many mid-winter events delayed by the weekend’s winter weather, the Highland Tournament begins on Monday and Tuesday with four first round games each day.

Defending champion O’Fallon, which nipped Highland to win the Mascoutah Holiday Tournament two weeks ago, enters the tournament with a 15-4 record and riding a three-game winning streak. The Panthers took on Taylorville in their first round game at 8:30 p.m. on Monday.

Civic Memorial ((18-4), Highland (16-5), Central (11-9), Belleville East (11-9) and Mater Dei (16-3) are among the other trams to watch in the event which concludes with a 4 p.m. title game on Saturday.

Carrollton Tournament

The Lebanon Greyhounds (14-9) and Jerseyville Panthers (14-6) headline a list of six area teams which will compete for the title at Carrollton High School beginning on Saturday.

Father McGivney (13-8), Gtranite City (1-15) Metro East Lutheran (10-5) and Mascoutah (4-14) are also in the event which runs through Jan. 26.

Collinsville Kiwanis Classic

State-ranked Greenville (19-1) headlines the field for the Kiwanis Classic which begins on Tuesday at Collinsville High School.

The host Kahoks (9-7) and Cahokia (3-9) are also in the field. The tournament concludes on Saturday.