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North Chicago's JaVairius Amos-Mays (right) goes up for two. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
It wasn’t that long ago North Chicago was dubbed the team that just couldn’t get over the hump.
In the first three years of the four-class system, the Warhawks lost in the supersectional twice and in a sectional. Now, North Chicago has reached Peoria two years in a row, finishing fourth in 2011 and second in 2012. Given the talent on hand, this team might be even better than last year’s Class 3A state runner-up.
There are few teams that can match the ability and scoring versatility North Chicago is blessed with in the Class of 2014. The junior trio of 6-foot-4 JaVairius Amos-Mays, 6-4 Kurt Hall and 6-2 JayQuan McCloud will be a nightmare for opponents over the next two seasons.
‘‘This team, man-for-man, is clearly better than last year’s team,’’ Warhawks coach Gerald Coleman said. ‘‘The difference is last year’s team had been together since 6th grade. This year our ‘Big Three’ need to understand that we need all 12 to contribute, not just the those three.’’
Oswego has had its share of memorable victories in recent years, with a dramatic buzzer-beating win over Leo in the 3A state semifinals in 2009 at the very top. But last week’s thrilling overtime victory over Proviso East, before a raucous home crowd, is the biggest regular-season win in the program’s history.
With unsung star Miles Simelton leading the way, Oswego knocked off a Pirates team that was ranked No. 4 and had not lost a regular-season game since Feb. 19, 2011.
‘‘They seized the moment,’’ Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce said of Oswego’s performance. ‘‘I can’t say enough about how hard they competed.’’
As several of the area’s top teams will be up against national powers Saturday at the UIC Pavilion in the Chicago Elite Classic, including the debut of No. 1 ranked Simeon, there is no question it will showcase more individual talent in one day than any event this season.
There will be a combination of 40-plus Division I signees and prospects on display in the six games, including five players ranked among the top 25 nationally in their respective classes.