It's always fun to speculate how the state tournament is going to look after the IHSA conducts its "rolling of the peas" for spring sports.
Can you imagine a Lincoln-Way East vs. New Trier semifinal? Or a Minooka vs. Sandburg quarterfinal? How about a St. Francis vs. Stevenson quarterfinal? Or an Oak Park vs. Wheaton North quarterfinal?
Are you thinking that perhaps the quarterfinals should be seeded? Or perhaps that the mapmakers down in Bloomington ought to rethink some of their sectional assignments? A cursory glance at some of the sectionals is proof enough that there is a shameful imbalance.
It's not like there would be a lot of travel involved, and it would certainly make for a better state tournament if Lincoln-Way East and Minooka did not have to meet in a quarterfinal. And some school is going to walk home with a trophy not because they deserve it, but because they're in the right zip code.
Here are the quarterfinal pairings (in bracket order) and the top teams from each sectional:
O'Fallon Sectional (Minooka, Joliet Catholic, Belleville East) vs. Andrew Sectional (Lincoln-Way East, Sandburg, Lincoln-Way North, Brother Rice)
Niles West Sectional (New Trier, Glenbrook North, Loyola, St. Viator) vs. Whitney Young Sectional (Payton, Whitney Young, Kelvyn Park)
Proviso West Sectional (Lyons, Neuqua Valley, St. Francis, Downers Grove South) vs. Antioch Sectional (Stevenson, Deerfield, Barrington, Vernon Hills)
St. Rita Sectional (Oak Park, Mt. Carmel, St. Rita) vs. Bartlett Sectional (Lake Park, Wheaton North, St. Charles North, Glenbard North).
Named to the all-tournament team at the Brother Rice Smack Attack were Nate Van Dellen (Lincoln-Way East, MVP), Cody Bolan (Glenbrook North), Ryan Paull (Brother Rice), John Hodul (Sandburg), Jake Walenga (Lincoln-Way North), Patrick Flood (St. Francis) and Evan Burnette (Buffalo Grove).
Also named to the all-tournament team were Dan O'Keefe (St. Rita), Brendan Surane (Providence), Earl Schultz (Payton), Austin Overby (Lincoln-Way Central), Andrew Roberts (Glenbard West), Craig Rosner (Marist), Bennet Brueggmann (Carmel, Ind.) and Matt Walsh (Mt. Carmel).
Quote of the Week: "I think our passes started getting better so we could have all three hitters running. Matt (Wascher) helped me get the ball more and that helped our outsides. I don't think we were tired. We're big rivals with Loyola, and after we beat them (in the semifinals) that actually give us more energy. It was like, 'Let's go!' That was a lot of fun." - New Trier's 6-foot-6 junior middle Jack Serrino talking about the Trevians' rally after losing the first game and falling behind 18-13 in the second against Lyons Saturday at the Mustang Invitational hosted by Downers Grove South.
In case you missed it, Minooka defeated Neuqua Valley 25-19, 23-25, 25-19 to win its own invitational Saturday.
Downers Grove North's leading hitter, 6-4 Gilius Blinstrubas, is out for a week or more with a ligament injury in his left foot. His absence really hurt the Trojans, who were the No. 1 seed at Downers South but lost to Oak Park in pool play Friday and to Downers South and Wheaton South in Silver play Saturday.
Need any more reasons to go to the Lincoln-Way East tournament May 2-3? The finalists from the two major tournaments last weekend will be there: Lincoln-Way East, Sandburg, Lyons and New Trier. Toss in Lincoln-Way North and it will be quite the party.