By Joe Henricksen
Make no mistake about it, the City/Suburban Hoops Report has been a four-class basher since the mere thought of
expanding classes became a topic several years ago. Time passes and the distaste for four classes just continues
to grow. Breaking down the sectional assignments the IHSA recently released just adds fuel to the fire. Here
are some quick observations with more to follow in the future.
For starters, the premier sectional in the state--the Proviso East Sectional in Class 4A--makes little sense. In that
sectional you have powers from the city's north side in Lincoln Park and Foreman, powers from the
city's west side in Whitney Young and Farragut, powers from the city's south side in Mt. Carmel and DeLaSalle, and
powers from the near west suburbs in Proviso East, Oak Park and Fenwick. This sectional features three different
geographical areas (north, south and west side of the city)--and four if you count the near west suburbs. To make
matters worse the sectional is absolutely loaded with depth. There is no question it will be more difficult to win a
regional in this sectional complex this season with the four-class system than it was to win any regional in the two-
class system. And this makes sense?
If one didn't know better, you would get the feeling the IHSA was making sure schools with potential poor
Elite Eight attendance figures in Peoria would eliminate one another so that just one representative from that group
would make it. Word is quickly circulating within this sectional that there are several school officials that will be
outlining their concerns to the IHSA regarding the geographical assignments of this sectional.
In other absurd four-class news.... The majority of sectional sites have 21 or so teams assigned to a particular
sectional, with specific regional assignments to be determined and seeded at a later time. Meanwhile, there are
other sectionals that already have pre-determined teams assigned to four-team regionals, due mostly to travel
factors. Where is the equality and fairness in that? Those are completely different state tournament rules for
different teams in the same class.
A coach joked that they could have a video library on potential regional opponents knowing what the three regional
teams are as early as November. As an example, Minooka, Ottawa, Bradley-Bourbonnais and Normal have been
assigned to a four-team regional. Those four teams can scout one another for the next four months. For argument's
sake, lets say all four teams are sitting there in March with 10 or fewer wins. Meanwhile, Whitney Young could
play Farragut for a regional title.
And travel? The East Aurora Sectional winner, featuring schools in the far west suburbs, will have to play its
supersectional game at Chicago State University on the far south side of Chicago. That's a real nice drive for
Batavia fans in March. And how would you like to be O'Fallon? They will travel to East Moline United for their
sectional games, a nice 250-mile drive. Also in this across-the-state sectional is Pekin from central Illinois, a host of
schools from southern Illinois and schools from the Quad Cities.
Class 3A is a joke. There are a total of three teams in the Hoops Report preseason Top 25 that are in Class 3A.
Three! The Freeport Sectional and the Antioch Sectional are the two worst big school sectionals in state history.
Simeon's eyes must have popped out when looking at its sectional assignment. The two-time defending champs
must get by Englewood and .... well, just Englewood, really, to win its sectional. Simeon's second team may be one
of the state's top five teams in Class 3A.
In the end, it all goes back to the notion of why try to fix something that wasn't broken? Prep basketball in Illinois
was extremely healthy and popular. Now it's a mess with more concerns and questions to be answered than ever