By Phil Brozynski
They rolled the peas and came up with squash earlier this week at IHSA headquarters in Bloomington.
The annual "rolling of the peas," which determines the pairings for state final tournaments in soccer, softball, baseball and boys volleyball, will produce a reasonably intriguing state tournament in volleyball even if some of the best teams in the state won't be there.
Imagine the state tournament without all but one of these teams - Glenbard East, Hinsdale Central, Wheaton Warrenville South and St. Francis. It's possible, since for some reason known only to dispassionate paper-hangers all four have been assigned to the Willowbrook sectional.
Or how about a state tournament without all but one of this group - Marist, Sandburg, Lincoln-Way East, Lincoln-Way Central, Providence or surprising Joliet? It will happen, since only one of those teams can make it out of the T.F. North sectional.
While those teams are battling each other just to get the state, a number of teams can start warming the bus now.
Neuqua Valley should walk through the Bolingbrook sectional, St. Rita (which is hosting its own sectional) will not see another ranked team until the state semifinals, Glenbard North should be able to punch a ticket out of Elgin and Maine South does not figures to run into a lot of resistance at its own sectional.
Meanwhile, Glenbrook North and Buffalo Grove are on a collision course at Highland Park.
The state quarterfinals could look a lot like this: Neuqua Valley vs. Glenbard East (a do-over from last year's quarterfinals), St. Ignatius vs. St. Rita (who's got the bigger "in" with Morgan Freeman?), Glenbrook North vs. Glenbard North (the it's-all-the-same-directional bowl), and Maine South vs. Marist (that one will ruffle some feathers).
Not bad, but leaving four of the top teams in the state at home (including, potentially, the defending state champion) does beg the question: who's bending those rubberbands down in Bloomington?
Yes, the volleyball sectionals are really annoying, but what's really keeping us up at night is....who is going to advance from the Argyle Lake bass fishing sectional (the smart money is on Cuba....after all, isn't it surrounded by water?), and what kind of homecourt advantage are the Skokie Lagoons?