By Joe Henricksen
The Illinois High School Association released its sectional assignments for boys basketball. Here are a few quick observations from the City/Suburban Hoops Report.
There were certainly some changes in Class 4A, with the biggest being breaking up many of the top teams in the western suburbs and within the city. The Proviso East Sectional, which boasts Whitney Young, Foreman, De La Salle, St. Ignatius, York, Oak Park, Proviso East and St. Patrick, will now face, according to the IHSA website, the winner from a north suburban sectional (Niles West Sectional) rather than another sectional boasting South Side powers.
The loser in all this is the north suburban sectional winner at Niles West. Thus, we could be looking at a Whitney Young-Glenbrook North supersectional matchup if coach David Weber's club can take care of the likes of Evanston, Von Steuben, Maine South and New Trier.
Another loser in the IHSA's changes is the far west suburban sectional winner. This year the sectional, which is typically at East Aurora, will be hosted by Neuqua Valley. This is the second year in a row one of the state's best and biggest gyms, East Aurora, will not be hosting a sectional. Last year Neuqua Valley won the sectional but fell in a stunner to Dundee-Crown in the DeKalb Super. The road to Peoria was always considered a bit of a softer road for the East Aurora Sectional winner. That's no longer the case. This year favored Neuqua Valley would play the winner of the Lyons Twp. Sectional, which could very well be Simeon, Mt. Carmel or Morgan Park.
Turning to Class 3A ...
The Hoops Report can not figure out where in the world the IHSA arrived at separating teams in the Chicago area. There are two predominantly Chicago area sectionals and two of them are loaded and one has Harper as an overwhelming favorite. While Harper is solid--even listed in the preseason issue of the Hoops Report as "one to watch"--there is really no one else in the sectional.
The Riverside-Brookfield Sectional features the talented host school, R-B, along with St. Joseph, Orr, North Lawndale, Marshall and Wheaton Academy. The Lincoln-Way West Sectional will be the toughest in the Chicago area, with Hillcrest, Brooks, Crete-Monee, Richards, T.F. North and Rich South. Meanwhile, the King Sectional, as previously mentioned, has Harper at the top. And then what? Absolutely no one.
Oswego, last year's state runner-up in Class 3A, should cruise to a regional championship and be one of the favorites to win the Hampshire Sectional.
And you can't help but feel for the Peoria schools. With all the weak regionals around the state in Class 3A, the talented Peoria schools--Notre Dame, Central and Richwoods--have to battle it out for a regional.