Hawks peaking at right time
Interesting storylines are rampant as Maine South rapidly plays its way into contender status.
There are first-generation players from Serbia, Ukraine, Syria and Thailand on the roster. A star guard is putting up massive numbers at center, and the Hawks had two wins last week against Public League Red-North/West teams.
Maine South coach Tony Lavorato has his team hot at the perfect time. On Saturday, the Hawks extended their winning streak to six with a 60-40 victory against Crane.
“We always say what doesn’t break you makes you stronger,” Lavorato said. “In early January, I felt like we were on the verge of getting broken. Now, we’ve settled in and we’ve got a nice rotation going and our guys are playing with a lot of confidence and our defense is clicking.”
Fillip Bulatovic, a 6-5 senior with Division II and III offers, was shifted from guard to center for the first time in his career in early January. Lavorato said he wanted to give Bulatovic more one-on-one matchups inside rather than double-teams on the perimeter.
Bulatovic is averaging more than 22 points during the winning streak, scoring 20 in an upset of Notre Dame, erupting for 33 against Marshall and recovering from a slow first half to finish with 19 against Crane on Saturday.
“It’s been a crazy year — the past three years have been crazy,” Bulatovic said. “I really like where I’m at right now. I think we’re going to make a pretty solid run.”
Bulatovic is complemented by point guard Essam Hamwi, who made five three-pointers Saturday en route to a game-high 23-point outing, and a strong supporting cast, including 6-3 forwards John Gardiner (14 points Saturday) and Dan Crane.
Super 25 additions
St. Viator: Wright State recruit Trey Calvin has returned from a hand injury. The Lions kept their heads above water without him, but they are one of the area’s better teams at full strength.
St. Rita: The Mustangs are back. They dominated Leo on Friday and have won nine of their last 10 games behind Javon Cooley and Jeremiah Oden.
Thornton: Tai Streets’ squad has won nine consecutive games since losing to H-F.
New Trier: The Trevians lost to Niles North on Friday. That alone probably wouldn’t be enough to knock them out because they’ve been very consistent. But guard Sam Silverstein is injured and out for the season, and Harvard recruit Ciaran Brayboy is recovering from a concussion.
Corliss: The Trojans weren’t quite able to hang with Orr in the second round of the Public League playoffs. They are still a major threat in the Class 2A state playoffs.
DePaul Prep: The Rams remain one of the better Class 3A teams and Perry Cowan is a reliable, top-notch guard, but they haven’t picked up a quality win in 2019 and lost at Brother Rice on Sunday.
The week ahead
The Public League playoffs are in high gear.
The quarterfinals are Tuesday and Wednesday, the semifinals are Friday and the title game is Sunday at Chicago State. All eight of the ranked Public League teams are alive.
◆ St. Rita has an important week on tap with games against Mount Carmel, Providence-St. Mel and DePaul Prep.
◆ Friday’s slate features over a dozen huge matchups, including Marian Catholic at St. Viator, Homewood-Flossmoor at Bolingbrook and Oak Forest at Hillcrest.
Center Fillip Bulatovic has averaged more than 22 points during Maine South’s six-game winning streak.