By Joe Henricksen

Big change in IHSA tournament assignments

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By Joe Henricksen

With attendance at the state basketball tournament in Peoria crashing, maybe a switch in the tournament's sectional assignments by the IHSA will do the trick in filling up Carver Arena.

A year ago Simeon and Whitney Young played for the state championship in Class 4A. This year the two teams that have won the past two state championships entered the season as the Hoops Report's preseason No. 1 and No. 2 teams. There will be no chance of a highly-anticipated rematch in Peoria.

Simeon and Whitney Young, along with state power De La Salle, are all locked up with each other in sectional and supersectional play. A postseason Simeon-Whitney Young showdown would take place in the Hinsdale Central Supersectional.

Meanwhile, the biggest beneficiary of this year's switch may be the elite western suburban teams Benet Academy and Glenbard East. For years the East Aurora Sectional fed into the DeKalb Super, except for last year when a change was made and Benet won the sectional and faced Simeon in the Hinsdale Central Supersectional. This year it's back to the traditional supersectional road with the East Aurora Sectional winner playing the typically softer Jacobs Sectional winner.

So what does this all have to do with attendance? The conspiracy theorists will tell you it's a way to knock out a less-traveled fan base before that team hits Peoria. Chicago Public League representatives don't travel well. And imagine if Peoria had four Chicago Public League teams playing there in March, a strong possibility under last year's state tournament assignments. With 3A favorites Orr and Morgan Park both having favorable roads to Peoria, Simeon and Whitney Young, arguably two most talented teams in the state and most successful over the past few years, could have potentially made it four CPS schools.

In defense of the IHSA, if geographical representation is truly the goal in state tournament play -- and arguing that point is an entirely separate issue -- then this makes more sense than last year's assignments.

There will always be arguments made and questions raised over why this school is in this sectional and this school is in another sectional. But under this year's sectional assignments, at least in Class 4A, the supersectionals are geography based. The north suburban schools will hammer it out in the Barrington and New Trier Sectionals, the countless number of Chicago area basketball powers will slug it out in the rugged York and Argo Sectionals, while the underrated East Aurora Sectional will stay west and play the Jacobs Sectional winner in DeKalb.

The look in Class 3A includes arguably the two weakest sectionals in the state -- at Woodstock North (go ahead and try to pick a winner) and the ultra-weak King Sectional. The Rich South Sectional is clearly the most stacked sectional, especially with new 3A heavyweight Morgan Park in the mix. Brooks, T.F. North, defending state champ Hillcrest, surprising Tinley Park and Rich South will all be trying to knock off Wayne Blackshear & Company this March.

The Riverside-Brookfield Sectional winner, as is the case nearly every year, should win its supersectional as long as that team can navigate its way through a tough regional and sectional road. Orr will be the team to beat at R-B, with the regulars all returning, including the underrated host school Bulldogs, Wheaton Academy, Marshall, Crane, North Lawndale and St. Joseph.

Here is just one quick, early-season snapshot of the Class 4A state tournament road after the IHSA's release of sectional assignments.

CLASS 4A
Hinsdale Supersectional
Simeon, St. Rita, Mt. Carmel or Hyde Park
vs.
De La Salle, Whitney Young or Proviso East

Normal Supersectional
O'Fallon or Normal
vs.
Homewood-Flossmoor, Crete-Monee or Thornton

TBA Supersectional
Warren, Waukegan or Zion-Benton
vs.
Evanston, Niles Notre Dame or Glenbrook North

DeKalb Supersectional
Benet Academy, Glenbard East, Downers South or East Aurora
vs.
Rockford Auburn, Rockford Boylan or St. Charles North

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, now in its 16th year of publication, call (630)-408-6709 or email hoopsreport@yahoo.com

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12 Comments

Five years on and Marty Hickman at IHSA is still pretending that the four class tourney is a good idea.

For the second year in a row, the 3A King sectional shows for all to see what a joke the four class tourney really is.

It would be funny if weren't so sad...

These weak ass sectionals are the perfect example of why there should not be four classes in boys basketball.

Honestly, Joe, I think they can mess around with sectional assignments all they want, but the major reason attendance in Peoria (and a lot of other places) is crashing is because it's a four-class tournament. Period.

It's a true shame what has happened to the game I grew up loving. I've come to an acceptance that the four class system will probably never leave us...I only ask that I don't have to travel three counties over this year for my team's sectional...excuse me while I go check my assignment with my Rand McNally in hand.

Joe, shouldn't the goal be to see the absolute two best teams down state either in the finals or the semis?!? Pinning WY-Simeon against each other in Super-Sectionals takes away even more from the state tournament!

Move the tournament to Chicago (UIC, DePaul, Loyola?) and you'd draw a lot more people than you do down there in Peoria!

Mike, the number of people in Chicago who would come out for the state tournament if it were played there would be negated by the number of downstaters who wouldn't go to Chicago. Not only that, but UIC, DePaul and Loyola are all smaller venues than Peoria is. So yes, they'd probably be close to sold out, with 4-6,000 fans. A far cry from what the state tournament was just a few years ago.

And Joe, I'm not so sure I agree with you entirely on well-traveling suburban fan bases anymore. Even those seem to have decreased with the advent of four classes, with a few unique exceptions (like Waukegan).

Joe....I hate 4 classes as much as anybody 1st off. But I had a question. I don't know if I'm in favor of this idea, but what would you think if the IHSA announced the new format would be like the NCAA Tourney. 64-68 teams. Conference champs and At-large bids. Not saying I agree but I just wanted your opinion. Thanks!

Joe: Agreed on your last point entirely. Even the most anemic suburban following is better than most CPL schools. That Whtiney Young-Simeon title game last year in Peoria was a disgrace, literally enough to make an old fan like myself cry.

Go back to the two class system and go back to Champaign-Urbana

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on December 11, 2010 9:32 AM.

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