Tevin King did his own investigating of Chicagoland Jewish.
“I knew they were good, so I did my own scouting on them,” the star senior Providence-St. Mel guard said.
In a showdown between the top two teams in the Chicago Prep, King scored a team-high 17 points and added six steals, five rebounds and four assists as host Providence-St. Mel used an early 15-0 run to subdue the Tigers 66-46 Tuesday night on the West Side.
King threw down three spectacular dunks and added a blocked shot for the Knights (18-6, 6-0).
The Tigers return three starters and seven of their top 10 players from last year’s breakthrough 25-4 team that upset Mooseheart and reached the Class 1A sectional finals.
The Deerfield school was ranked the No. 2 Jewish basketball program in the country by the authoritative Jewish Hoops America.
“We had to be serious about them, because they have some good players, and we want to show everybody that we’re the king of Chicago Prep and also the best program in Class 2A,” King said.
Junior guard Josh Newlander drilled four three-pointers in scoring a game-high 21 points for the Tigers (10-5, 5-2). His three-pointer from the right wing opened the scoring and provided the only lead for the Tigers.
King hit a lay up and bombed in a three-pointer as Providence-St. Mel scored the final 13 points of the quarter and the first two points of the second quarter.
“We started slow, and we didn’t react very well to them defensively, but then we started to get our legs underneath us,” King said.
Former Barrington coach Marty Dello is in his third year directing the Tigers’ program.
“Providence-St. Mel is a great team,” Dello said. “They’re the quickest team we’ve played or we will see on the rest of our schedule, and it took our kids a while to get used to the quickness.”
Newlander and 6-6 junior center Josh Wolf, an active presence on the interior for the Tigers, keyed a quarter closing 8-0run, as Chicagoland Jewish pulled within single-digits, 29-20, at the break.
“To be down just nine like that was a great achievement for our kids, I thought,” Dello said.
Providence-St. Mel wore down the Tigers in the third quarter with its athleticism, quickness and depth. Josh McNeal, Bernard Lilly Jr. and Tyler Turner each scored 14 points for the Knights. King was the team’s catalyst.
He scored the opening points of the second half and then recorded a steal and assist to Lilly for another easy score as the Knights scored repeatedly in transitions during a third quarter barrage.
Lilly Jr. punctuated the run by drilling a three-pointer and McNeal added a conventional three-point play as St. Mel extended its lead to 51-32 entering the fourth quarter.
Newlander hit a couple of three-pointers in the fourth quarter to make the score more respectable. Wolf scored nine points and added seven rebounds for the Tigers. Senior guard Jeremy Goodman added seven points.
“We’ve been watching the rankings the whole year, and St. Mel is probably the favorite to win the [Class] 2A title, and that makes us feel good, because they’re in our conference, and we hope to compete for a Class 1A title,” Dello said.
Providence-St. Mel lost a heartbreaker to Class 2A state runner-up Seton in the supersectional last year. King said the Knights are honed in on the task at hand.
“We’re looking to be disciplined and focus, and get ready to play at a higher level,” he said.