BOYS SAC TOURNAMENT: 5 stars to shine and 5 players to watch

Can Craig Young and the Wayne Generals win a SAC Holiday Tournament on their home floor? (Photo by Dan Vance of The News-Sentinel)
North Side's Keion Brooks Jr. goes up for a rebound over Northrop's Tyj Cobb during the 2016 SAC Holiday Tournament. (Photo by Dan Vance of The News-Sentinel)
Homestead's Sam Buck makes a pass during the championship game of the SAC Holiday Tournament on December 29, 2016 at Wayne High School. (Photo by Dan Vance of The News- Sentinel)

The 2017 Parkview Sports Medicine SAC Holiday Tournament kicks off on Wednesday and Wayne High School will be packed for four days with games. Team play will get you a title, but every year there are individual performances that either open eyes or leave spectators wanting more.

Here are five stars most likely to shine during the SAC Holiday Tournament:

AUSTIN BOUCHER, NORTH SIDE: Probably to the relief of many opponents, Boucher didn’t play in the SAC Holiday Tournament as a sophomore or junior, so returning to this event is a big chance for him to showcase the kind of scorer and distributor he can be. Boucher has always been good playing with a chip on his shoulder and there is no bigger weight than that of trying to help North Side to its fifth straight title.

TREJEAN DIDIER, SOUTH SIDE: Didier has faded into the background some as the season has begun, but the tournament has consistently been a time for the senior to shine. Last year, he dropped 29 points in a close loss to Northrop, drilling 7-of-10 shots from three-point range. The atmosphere of this tournament has always worked in Didier’s favor and could again this year if teams do not respect his shooting touch.

CRAIG YOUNG, WAYNE: Last year, Young was one of the breakout stars of the tournament. His ferocity dunking the ball and his balanced defensive effort was on full display in both the Generals’ tournament contests. When he took over in the second round loss to Homestead with 29 points, he was officially a star in the making. The right intensity this year and Young may end up the most valuable player in the minds of the many who will show up to watch tournament games.

SAM BUCK, HOMESTEAD: Buck has been one of the biggest early-season surprises, taking over the scoring load for the Spartans. His family has never been short on star power and now Sam could have his best showing yet. His tenacity is a strong attribute, but perhaps not as strong as his ability to score from anywhere on the court. While teams try to figure out this still-new look Spartan squad, they may want to keep their most versatile defender on Buck.

KEION BROOKS JR., NORTH SIDE: There may be no better comfort zone for the North Side junior, who has never lost a SAC Holiday Tournament game. The change this year will be the expectation of a starring role for Brooks, who has done well as a secondary feature in past seasons in the tournament. When last we saw him in this tournament however, his 19-point, nine-rebound effort over Homestead in the championship gave us a sign, rather loudly, that he was ready to make a big impact for a long time to come in the tournament.

Here are five players to watch as possible breakout players during the SAC Holiday Tournament:

DAVID EJAH, CARROLL: Ejah has been Carroll’s strongest player in the opening part of the season and now has his biggest stage to date to shine on. The junior didn’t start to really get going until later in his sophomore season and did not play in the holiday tournament. His SAC Holiday Tournament debut could go big if he can show off against a tough Homestead team on Wednesday.

KYLON JARREAU, WAYNE: Last season, Jarreau was sidelined during the tournament when Wayne really started making waves and building up hype for what it could be this year. His senior campaign has started off swimmingly, giving the Generals an offensive weapon that can score from nearly anywhere on the court. He could be a challenge for the winner of Bishop Dwenger/Bishop Luers to keep up with on Thursday.

ASHER BLUM, SOUTH SIDE: There have been signs of dominance from Blum in the Archers’ first handful of games, but teams with an interior presence are always more suited to win multiple games in four days. Blum will run up against some players in South’s potential path to a title that will push him to open that aggression up.

LUCAS LEHRMAN, BISHOP DWENGER: In his season opener, Lehrman handed out seven blocked shots to an undersized Norwell team. With Bishop Luers as the Saints’ opening round game in the SAC Tournament, he could have a heyday in the post. His truest test would come in a Thursday meeting with Wayne, another team without a traditional big, but explosive finishers at the basket. Lehrman is capable of putting up big numbers in Wednesday’s 4 p.m. game, but to shut down Wayne’s Craig Young at all could make him a breakout star in this tournament.

DILLON DUFF, SNIDER: This week is a big opportunity for the sophomore Duff to continue to earn respect. When the Panthers open up on Thursday morning against South Side, Duff is likely to go toe to toe with Asher Blum. Duff’s effort and intensity will go a long way in helping the Panthers try to secure the paint. If South Side is having an off shooting day and Duff controls the paint, that is advantage Snider.

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