Challenged seemlngly on a nightly basis, the Belleville West Maroons have played other high school basketball teams with different styles from several different states.
Currently 21-1 and ranked at the top of the Class 4A state poll, the Maroons have earned wins over quick teams, patient teams and teams that are big and physical.
On Saturday at the Bank of O’Fallon Shooutout, West will face off with one of the top programs in the nation, the seven-time Illinois state champion Simeon Woverines, in one of two marquee matchups at the annual event in O’Fallon.
“It’s a game a lot of people thought they would see last year, but we ended up playing (Chicago) Whitney Young in the state tournament,’’ Muniz said. “I don’t know how many state championships they have won, but Simeon is one of the top programs in the nation. They have a number of players who have gone on to play and star in the NBA.”
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Included in that group are former NBA Rookie of the Year and Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, Nick Anderson, who played at the University of Illinois and was a star with the Orlando Magic, and former Duke University star Jabari Parker.
The Simeon game is part of a big weekend for Belleville West which will play O’Fallon at 7 p.m. Friday. The game pits the Muniz brothers, Joe and Brian, against each other. Brian Muniz is the head coach at O’Fallon.
“The Simeon game is one we’ll look at after we play O’Fallon,’’ Muniz said. “That’s the way we’’re looking at it. O’Fallon is a (Southwestern) conference game and is big for us to keep our lead in the league.’
“We’re looking forward to playing them. Our schedule this season has been tremendous and this is another challenge for our kids. Playing the teams we have will do nothing but make us better prepared for the postseason in March. Playing Simeon will do that as well.’’
Shootout coordinator and assistant O’Fallon High School Athletic Director Cory Patton scheduled six teams which are either ranked or have received votes in their respective state polls.
The Maroons headline that list, which includes Whitney Young, their opponent in last year’s Class 4A championship game. Whitney Young will arrive in O’Fallon at 19-6 and ranked third in the Class 4A state poll. It will take on Iowa City West, ranked sixth in Iowa, in the other marquee game beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The Trojans (13-3) are led by 6-8 senior and University of Iowa recruit, Patrick McCaffery.
Both Simeon (13-12) and Collinsville (20-3) also received votes in the Class 4A state poll.
“We’re very excited about the quality of teams we have for the shootout this year,’’ Patton said. “I don’t think Simeon has been down here to play in an event before and I know they are excited about playing Belleville West.
“We’re expecting a great crowd both days.. It should be another great event.’’
Action begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday when Alton takes on Springfield Southeast in a game which should down to the wire. Alton, which won the Belleville East Chick-Fil-A Classic two weeks ago, figures to be a tough matchup for Springfield Southeast which placed second at the Class 3A state finals a year ago and is currently ranked third in the Class 3A poll. The Spartans ae 18-2 for the season.
The Belleville West-O’Fallon game is at 7 p.m. and will be followed by the matchup between Collinsville and Springfield Lanpheir at 8:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Normal West will take on Christian Brothers College Prep (CBC) at 4 p.m and O’Fallon will play Triad at 5:30 p.m. The Iowa City West-Whitney Young and Belleville West-Simeon games will follow.
Tickets are still available at Bank of O’Fallon during normal business hours and on line at https://gofan.co/app/school/IL24049 If there are tickets still available they will be sold at the door. Tickets are priced at $7 for the games on Friday and $10 for the games on Saturday. A tournament pass. good for all seven games, is availabe for $15..