When high school basketball fans think back to the 1980s, programs like Quincy, Providence St. Mel, East St. Louis Lincoln and the arrival of city powers King and Simeon are easy to think back on.
The 1990s brought us memorable basketball giants in Peoria Manual and Thornton, a few steamrolling Proviso East teams and the continued dominance of King.
The first 10 years of the 2000s included Glenbrook North, Peoria High and the beginning of a Simeon juggernaut.
Now, with the calendar inching closer to wrapping up an unforgettable 2020, the end of this month closes out another decade. And it’s another high school basketball time period to look back on.
This list is comprised of the 50 winningest programs over the past 10 years, starting with the 2010-11 season and concluding with the 2019-20 season. Every team in every class throughout the Chicago area will be broken down in a variety of ways. But total wins, with winning percentage used as tie-breaker, determined the rankings.
We present No. 43 North Chicago today and will add one program a day going forward.
43. NORTH CHICAGO: 186-123
Decade’s biggest storyline: The run in 2011-12 ended with an appearance in the Class 3A state championship — a program first. Although the Warhawks and star Aaron Simpson lost in the final to Peoria, it’s the best state finish in school history.
Underrated decade highlight: In addition to the 25-win team that reached the Class 3A state championship game in 2012, the decade also had a pair of lesser-known teams that got hot in March and brought home state hardware.
The Warhawks started off the decade with a fourth-place finish in 2011 after finishing the regular season with a 12-13 record. Then North Chicago added another fourth-place finish in 2018.
Player of the Decade: Aaron Simpson (2012)
All-Decade Team: Aaron Simpson (2012), Kurt Hall (2014), JaVairius Amos-Mays (2014), JayQuan McCloud (2014) and Tyrek Cooper (2018)
Other decade news and highlights:
-The Warhawks won a pair of sectional championships in 2012 and 2013 while combining to go 53-11. But both teams fell short of Peoria, losing to Orr in the super-sectional each season.
-The 2011-12 team set a school record with 28 wins.
-Aaron Simpson was one of the bigger stars of the decade in Illinois, averaging 26.2 points a game as a senior and 22.2 points a game as a junior. As a senior he had three 40-plus point games, including 49 points in a win over Wauconda.
-Simpson broke North Chicago’s all-time scoring record.
-A much-talked about and still revered performance in North Chicago basketball lore came in January of 2012 — and again involved Simpson. After being undercut on a breakaway layup at Round Lake and crashing to the floor in the first quarter, Simpson went on a massive scoring binge.
Coach Gerald Coleman said Simpson didn’t get upset and held his composure but told the veteran coach after getting up off the floor, “They’re going to pay for this.”
Simpson went on to bury six threes and score 31 points in less than eight minutes of action and left the floor with 3:45 remaining in the first half. He played sparingly in the second half and finished with seven threes and 36 points.