1. Rise of Anthony Davis: He put himself on the basketball map a year ago, but Davis finished his rise in 2011 and cemented himself as the No. 1 player in the Class of 2011. Davis, who played at Perspectives High School, closed out his prep career showcasing his talents in the McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago and is now considered the top freshman in the country at Kentucky. He’s likely the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA draft.
2. Verzbicas breaks four-minute mile: Illinois may never see a prep runner like Lukas Verzbicas again. Verzbicas, who attended Sandburg, became the fifth U.S. high school runner to break a four-minute mile when he ran it in 3:59.71 at the Adidas Grand Prix in June and earlier in 2011 broke the national high school record for the two-mile run with a time of 8:29.46 in the Prefontaine Classic. He recently left the University of Oregon to concentrate on his triathlon training.
3. Montini vs. Joliet Catholic: The Class 5A state football championship was expected to be an offensive showdown, but no one could have imagined what it actually became. The two teams combined for 115 points, 16 touchdowns and 1,644 yards. Joliet Catholic running back Ty Isaac broke the record for most rushing yards in a state title game in the first half alone with 376 yards. He finished with 515 yards and six touchdowns. Montini wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp also had a record-setting day with 12 receptions for 353 yards and five touchdowns. Oh, yeah, Montini won 70-45 for its third consecutive title.
4. Benet vs. Simeon: This was the boys basketball game of the year in 2011. Benet, which was No. 2 in the rankings, defeated top-ranked Simeon 58-54 before 8,184 fans at the UIC Pavilion. Benet’s Matt Parisi sealed the game with two free throws with 3.5 seconds left. Benet’s Frank Kaminsky had 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and five blocks. Simeon went on to win its second consecutive state title, and Benet was upset in sectionals.
5. Bolingbrook vs. Whitney Young -- again: These two programs are in another world when it comes to girls basketball in Illinois. Bolingbrook and Whitney Young met in the state tournament for the fourth consecutive year in 2011, and it was another nail-biter with Bolingbrook pulling out a 50-49 win in overtime thanks to a free throw by Taylor Tuck with two seconds left.