By Joe Henricksen

State tourney pairings and a crystal ball

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By Joe Henricksen

The Illinois High School Association has released the sectional assignments and state tournament brackets for the boys state basketball tournament next March. And once again there is a ridiculously loaded sectional--at Morton.

DeLaSalle, Morton, Foreman, St. Ignatius and Whitney Young are all currently ranked among the top 25 and all are headed to the Morton Sectional. And this doesn't even include Farragut, Lincoln Park, Proviso West, York, Fenwick, St. Patrick, Proviso East and Oak Park. The winner's reward? How about either Simeon, Curie or Mt. Carmel in the Chicago State Supersectional. Just a brutal stretch of games for any team that needs to win five games against five quality opponents to reach Peoria.

Hoops Report Crystal Ball
While there has been very little basketball played in the grand scheme of things and a lot will happen and develop between now and March, here are the Hoops Report's picks for Peoria in Class 3A and 4A through Dec. 12.

Class 4A Semifinals
Zion-Benton vs. Neuqua Valley
The Zee-Bees could get major tests from a number of schools, including Warren, Waukegan and Glenbrook North., prior to reaching Peoria.
Simeon vs. Thornton
A potential rematch of an early-season classic between these two storied programs.

Class 3A Semifinals
North Lawndale vs. Champaign Centennial
Just can't see anyone slowing powerful North Lawndale down.
Rock Island vs. Leo
Leo would have to get by either Hillcrest, Crete-Monee or Brooks in the super.

Here is a look at the biggest winners and losers following the release of the state tournament pairings last week....

Biggest Losers
• York... Here is a school that is in the western suburbs and played its sectional basketball last year in the western suburbs. Yet this March the Dukes are thrown to the wolves in the state's toughest sectional, which includes the host school, Morton, and Chicago schools DeLaSalle, Whitney Young, St. Ignatius, Lincoln Park, Foreman and St. Patrick.
• Simeon... After winning a 3A title in 2007 and finishing as state runner-up in 2008, the perennial power makes the move to Class 4A with an enrollment of 1,565 but with the multiplier in play, the enrollment bumps to 2,582. So instead of a cakewalk to Peoria in a weak 3A sectional, Simeon will move to 4A.
• Riverside-Brookfield... Here the Bulldogs have one of its best teams in years and the reward? Well, R-B will host its own sectional.... but North Lawndale, the state's most talented team, perennial power St. Joseph and defending 3A champ Marshall will also be there.

Biggest winners
• Thornton... Of all the Chicago heavyweights, there may not be a team with a better route to Peoria. The Wildcats miss the Chicago area's elite in sectional play and then would get the southern Illinois representative in the ISU Supersectional. But then again, that's what we thought last year with Homewood-Flossmoor.
• South Elgin... One of the biggest surprises in the early season, South Elgin could be poised for a long state tournament run--thanks in large part to its sectional placement. South Elgin was sent west, where it will likely be favored to win a soft sectional.
• Neuqua Valley... While the sectional is far from a picnic, last year the Wildcats were sent to the Chicago State Supersectional to face the south suburbs' top team, which was eventual state champ Richards. If the scenario would have remained the same this year, Neuqua would have gotten either Simeon, Curie or Mt Carmel in the supersectional. Instead? Neuqua has its best chance in school history to reach Peoria. With a sectional title the Wildcats would face the Elgin Sectional winner in DeKalb, likely Upstate Eight Conference foes South Elgin and St. Charles North or Rockton Hononegah or Rockford Auburn out of the Rockford area.
• Aurora Central... A year ago the Chargers had one of their best teams in school history, only to meet eventual 3A champ Marshall in the sectional. This year Aurora Central, which is unbeaten in the early going, could have been sent to the same sectional, where North Lawndale, Marshall and St. Joseph would have been waiting. Yikes! Instead, ACC was sent to west to the winnable Hampshire Sectional, where Sterling and Joseph Bertrand appear to be the toughest test.

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6 Comments

The IHSA is up to it's tricks again. They changed the original schedule around. I know why they did it,to keep two City Teams from playing for the title. Also to help Zion Benton get downstate. Original had Waukegan Sectional(Zion Benton) playing Hinsdale Central Sectional(Simeon). Now they have Morton(Whitney Young,DeLasalle) playing Hinsdale Central. I guess the Zion Benton fans complained to the IHSA or paid them off to get an easier road downstate. IHSA has some nerve to put two Public League Teams in the same Supersectional. I guess they don't want the Public League to win any more State Titles. They won too many trophies last year. I would not be surprised if the IHSA tried everything they could to get North Lawndale to lose in 3A. Also they put Marshall and North Lawndale in the same Sectional. Every body knows they are the two best teams in 3A. Ridiculous!!!! Don't they know people see what they are doing? Ludicrous!!!!

So here is my thinking on the whole IHSA tournament pairings... if a team can travel 300 miles from chicago to Belleville for a first round football playoff game, then they can also travel for a first round basketball game.
I say it is time to do away with regional/sectionals and move to an NCAA style - rank the whole class tournament. Even if each class was split into north and south (like football), this would make the games in Peoria more exciting.
The IHSA would surely respond to this with a "tradition" arguement...but they have no right to cling to tradition after they ignored tradition and expanded to 4 classes.
What do you think?

Tim,

Ironically, when I saw the original pairings I called the IHSA to speak with them as I wondered why schools that were miles from the Wisconsin state border (Waukegan, Warren, Zion-Benton) were traveling to the Chicago State Supersectional? After they looked at it they realized there was a mistake when they posted it online, which is why it was changed.

I understand your frustration with the way the state tournament is set up. I feel your pain.

Phil, that's my first time hearing of a NCAA style tournament and I agree 100%. It would be amazing to see teams fight to get to the high school final 4. Wouldn't need much planning either, except for a massive seeding meeting of all schools in each class. This would also solve the problem of finding regional hosts as well, here there would only be 8 statewide maybe.

RICH EAST IN PARK FOREST MAY HAVE ONE OF THE MORE
ATHLETIC TEAMS IN RECENT HISTORY, I WANT YOU GUYS TO
CRITIQUE THEM FOR YOURSELVES!
THEY PLAY THORNTON SATURDAY NIGHT!
ATTENTION ALL RECRUITERS SHEA SUMPTER OF RICH EAST IS
A PLAYER TO RECRUIT, HE IS THE REAL DEAL!
HE IS 6'6" AND HE IS BUILT LIKE A SHERMAN-TANK!
CRAIG HODGES WOULD BE PROUD!

I THINK THAT CONSIDERING WE'RE DARN NEAR IN A DEPRESSION, IT IS BEST TO LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE!
THE ONLY TEAMS DOING ALOT OF TRAVELING, ARE TEAMS THAT
ARE BEING PAID TO TRAVEL!
WHEN YOU HAVE A GOOD PRODUCT YOU CAN TRAVEL, IF THE
PRODUCT IS TAINTED LIKE THE GOVERNOR YOU CAN'T TRAVEL!
I FEEL YOUR PAIN ABOUT THE FOOTBALL SITUATION, BUT THE
IHSA IS DOING THE BEST IT CAN DO, THE FOUR CLASS SYSTEM
IS ALLOWING MORE TEAMS A CHANCE TO PUT A TROPHY IN THE
CASE!
I THINK NORTH LAWNDALE WILL BE OKAY IN CLASS 3A!
REMEMBER EVERYONE CANNOT BE A CHAMPION!
WHITNEY YOUNG IS THE SCHOOL THAT PROBABLY WON'T GET TO
THE PROMISED LAND!

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on December 11, 2008 9:24 PM.

Look out for Neuqua Valley and Dewayne Evans was the previous entry in this blog.

No debate over state's top player is the next entry in this blog.

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