The winningest high school basketball programs of the decade: No. 14 Maine South

The winningest high school basketball programs of the decade: No. 14 Maine South

Maine South’s Andrew Palucki celebrates with the fans after the Hawks defeated Evanston 74-66 (OT) in the Class 4A Maine South Sectional in 2014. | Sun-Times file photo

The Sun-Times is counting down the 50 high school basketball programs with the most wins during the decade.

When high school basketball fans think back to the 1980s, programs like Quincy, Providence St. Mel, East St. Louis Lincoln and the arrival of city powers King and Simeon are easy to think back on.

The 1990s brought us memorable basketball giants in Peoria Manual and Thornton, a few steamrolling Proviso East teams and the continued dominance of King.

The first 10 years of the 2000s included Glenbrook North, Peoria High and the beginning of a Simeon juggernaut.

Earlier this year we broke down the decade’s best teams and best players. Now, with every season of the past decade complete, it’s time to look at the Chicago area programs who won the most.

This list is comprised of the 50 winningest programs over the past 10 years, starting with the 2010-11 season and concluding with the 2019-20 season. Every team in every class throughout the Chicago area will be broken down in a variety of ways. But total wins, with winning percentage used as tie-breaker, determined the rankings.

We present No. 14 Maine South today and will add one program a day going forward.

14. MAINE SOUTH: 220-94

Decade’s biggest storyline: Back-to-back seasons in 2012-13 and 2013-14 generated the most wins over two seasons in 55 years of Maine South basketball.

The two-year run was a record-breaking one that included records of 28-4 and 25-7. The Hawks also won a pair of Central Suburban League South championships with a combined record of 19-1 and two regional titles.

The 2013-14 team, which pounded Niles North in the regional final, was led by the trio of big man George Sargeant and guards Andrew Palucki and Caleb DeMarigny. The Hawks knocked off Evanston in the sectional semifinal before falling to Loyola, 42-37, in the sectional championship game.

Underrated highlight: There was a distinct change in program philosophy that likely went unnoticed by most but directly led the program to new heights and remarkable consistency.

While the change happened just prior to the start of the decade, Maine South locked in on a defensive system and doctrine –– a frus

Maine South’s George Sargeant dunks against Niles North.
Sun-Times file photo
Maine South’s George Sargeant dunks against Niles North.

trating-to-play-against matchup zone in 2008-09 –– that eventually led to the most decade success for the program since the 1970s. The Hawks averaged 22 wins a season with three regional championships along with a pair of Central Suburban League South titles in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Player of the Decade: George Sargeant (2015)

All-Decade Team: Matt Palucki (2011), Jon Solari (2013), George Sargeant (2015), Caleb deMarigny (2015) and Fil Bulatovic (2019)

Other decade highlights:

-Caleb DeMarginy set both the career and single season (2014-15) assists record.

-Essam Hamwi became the best three-point shooter in program history, setting records for most made threes in a career (198) and single season (86) in 2017-18.

-Rebounding records fell during the decade. The career rebounding record was broken by Matt Palucki in 2011 while Brad Perry set the single-season rebounding record with 313 in 2015-16.

-The individual feel-good story of the decade belongs to John Gardiner. He was the 15th man on the sophomore team and then the 16th man at the varsity level as a junior. But as a senior during a 22-win season in 2017-18, Gardiner started all 30 games and was a valuable asset for a team that knocked off several ranked teams over the course of the season.

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