By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
The biggest showdown Chicagoland basketball fans could want is expected to draw a crowd.
Thankfully, that crowd will be allowed in the door.
Whitney Young, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A, and No. 2 Simeon are scheduled to play at 8 p.m. Saturday at Chicago State University. Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter told the Chicago Sun-Times the public is welcome despite recent incidents that have many Public League teams shutting their doors during games.
Last week, after Simeon beat Morgan Park, the No. 1 team in Class 3A, a student was shot and killed in the parking lot. The shooting followed a fracas between Simeon and Morgan Park players as they shook hands and resulted in two players being suspended for one game each by the Chicago Public Schools.
Also, Simeon Principal Sheldon House informed members of the media last Friday access to that night's game against Julian was being limited. Only family members and Simeon students were allowed in the gym, and all media were denied access.
Simeon coach Robert Smith was instructed not to talk to the media by the school administration, he told the Chicago Tribune by phone Friday afternoon.
There will be no such restrictions come Saturday, something Slaughter seems to agree with.
"That was not a basketball issue, that was a societal issue," he told the Sun-Times, referencing the shooting incident.
Stacked weekend: The marquee game of the Pinckneyville Panthers Showcase is one fans throughout the state will want to keep their eye on.
First, they might want to take note of what is happening Friday night.
Edwardsville, ranked fourth in Class 4A, looks for revenge as it squares off with No. 5 Belleville East in Southwestern Conference action. The Lancers (17-2) handed the Tigers (17-1) their only loss, winning 55-48 at Edwardsville on Dec. 4.
It's the start of the second half of the conference season with Belleville East the only undefeated team in the SWC at 7-0.
After taking on one top-five team, the Tigers get to face another. Scheduled to tip at 8 p.m. Saturday in Pinckneyville, Edwardsville will take on Cahokia, ranked third in Class 3A. The Comanches (20-2) are coming off the championship of the Jerseyville Tournament, have standout senior Keenan Minor back to full health and would love a signature victory over a Metro East power.
"We played them three years ago and we beat them on a buzzer-beater at Cahokia," Comanches coach Damien Nash told the Belleville News-Democrat. "I look forward to seeing them."
Spartans rule the city: Herman Senor won the scoring the title of the Springfield City Tournament, but it took a team effort from Springfield Southeast to win the championship.
Sparked by Senor, the senior guard who scored 24 pioints and knocked down six 3-pointers, the Spartans denied Sacred Heart-Griffin its first outright title in 40 years with a 61-58 victory last Saturday at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.
It was Southeast's third city title in the last four years, and everyone contributed.
Jalen Henry, the 6-foot-8 post player, nearly had a triple double, finishing with 10 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots. B.J. Hill went 4 for 4 from the free-throw line in the final 1:08. And Jagger Anderson locked down on SHG's top 3-point threat -- Ben Sestak -- and forced a miss in the closing seconds that would have tied the game.
The Spartans' reward for winning the title? They cracked the Class 3A state poll, sliding in this week at No. 10.
Raiders end losing skid: East Peoria had gone 23 months since winning a Mid-Illini Conference game.
The Raiders didn't want the streak to go two full years.
East Peoria ended a 22-game conference losing streak with Saturday's 54-52 victory over Morton. It was the Raiders' first Mid-Illini victory since Feb. 18, 2011.
"For us, it's about getting off the losing streak," East Peoria coach Matt Wright told the Peoria Journal Star. "We've had so many tough, close games in that stretch, and eventually we were going to punch through."