High school basketball: Previewing the Chicago Elite Classic’s girls basketball matchups

Skylar Jones has had Dec. 4 circled on the calendar for a while now.

On Sunday, Jones and her Young teammates will return to UIC’s Credit Union 1 Arena, where they beat Kenwood in last season’s Public League final. This time, they’ll be headlining the final day of the Chicago Elite Classic.

Though the CEC has showcased girls teams in the past, this is the first time the event has devoted an entire day to them.

Jones is thrilled by the development.

“I’m so excited that the girls get their own day to showcase all the talent around the Midwest,” she said.

Here’s a look at the matchups:

Simeon vs. Oak Forest, noon

Simeon is a traditional Public League power that won its first state title in 2020, beating downstate Morton in Class 3A just before the pandemic lockdown. The Wolverines were young last season and finished 14-10, but look to rebound this year. Janae Kent, whose parents and brother all have played Division I basketball, leads Oak Forest. A 6-1 wing, she’s the consensus No. 73 senior nationally and is committed to LSU.

Phillips vs. Homewood-Flossmoor, 1:30 p.m.

Phillips, an upper-echelon Public League team, is in Class 2A but routinely stacks its schedule with Class 4A powers including reigning state champ Stevenson. The Wildcats get more of the same here with H-F, whose top player is 6-1 forward Alyssa Latham. She’s ranked 72nd nationally among seniors and is committed to Syracuse.

Butler vs. Lincoln-Way Central, 3 p.m.

No Noble Network team in any sport has a higher profile than Butler, a 2A school that plays one of the state’s most challenging schedules. The Lynx’s Camille Jackson, now playing at Illinois, was the first Power Five recruit in Noble history. The next one will be dynamic point guard Xamiya Walton, the No. 55 junior nationally. IUPUI recruit Azyah Newson-Cole and Gracen Gehrke are players to watch for Lincoln-Way Central.

Kenwood vs. Vashon, 4:30 p.m.

Kenwood has two players committed to play in Division I — Jazelle Young (Loyola) and Natasha Barnes (Missouri State) — and several others who could wind up doing so. Ariella Henigan and Diann Jackson are both among the state’s top sophomores, and senior Jazlynn Givens is back after missing much of last season with a torn ACL. St. Louis power Vashon is back in the CEC after losing to Simeon last year.

Young vs. Stevenson, 6 p.m.

The event’s marquee game pits two returning members of last season’s Class 4A Elite Eight. Barrington finished second, losing to Stevenson in the final. Purdue recruit Sophie Swanson and Gwen Adler, who is headed to Seton Hall for volleyball, lead the Fillies. Young has several key returners from the team that fell to Benet in the supersectional, including Jones, a top-100 senior nationally who is heading to Missouri; sophomore Destiny Jackson; and senior Olivia Vick.

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