By Joe Henricksen
Coaches across the state will be going to the computer this week and submitting their seeds for the Class 3A and 4A sectionals around Illinois. There is still no viable reason why the IHSA has eliminated the traditional seeding meetings, where all the coaches meet together and present their cases, and gone exclusively to coaches submitting their seeds online.
With all the time a coach puts in to prepare his team in the offseason (traveling to shootouts and team camps around the state) and throughout the regular season (upgrading schedules in preparation for their sectional, traveling to scout opponents and breaking down film), it's only right to have a chance to state his case in a seeding meeting. And, most importantly, for all coaches to be held accountable among their coaching peers when submitting those seeds. Now it's just hiding behind a computer when a few coaches carelessly seed their sectional and hit "send."
Do you think all those coaches at the end of the season, those that are headed for a 14-20 seed, are all really going to take the time and do some quality research on their own before punching in numbers on a computer? If those coaches are in a meeting, at least they can be held accountable in front of their coaching peers. There are coaches who have actually forgotten to submit their seeds online.
Everything you do as a coach, when it comes to wins and losses, is geared toward earning that seed and putting your team in the best possible position. Coaches can't travel one night a year and put in a couple of hours to hammer out sectional seeds? You want to get the seeds right.
As the City/Suburban Hoops Report has done every year, here are the Hoops Report's Class 4A sectional seeds (the Class 3A sectional seeds will be out on Monday). Coaches throughout the state will be submitting their seeds to the IHSA up until Thursday. There will always be debate, but the Hoops Report looks at everything -- schedule strength, win totals, injuries, head-to-head results and how a team is playing over the past month -- in sorting out the top eight seeds in each Chicago area sectional.
East Aurora Sectional
1. Plainfield East
2. Downers Grove South
3. Metea Valley
4. Naperville North
5. West Aurora
6. Benet Academy
7. Hinsdale Central
8. Neuqua Valley
The breakdown: Plainfield East is the No. 1 seed with a 20-1 record and a few impressive wins, including an early-season victory over Downers Grove South. Metea Valley has just two defeats, both overtime losses to Waubonsie Valley and Hinsdale Central, but Downers Grove South's four losses have come to four highly-ranked teams with a combined record of 72-6. The Hoops Report gives DGS the No. 2 seed.
Naperville North and West Aurora are interchangeable as the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, but North did knock off West in their first matchup and owns a win over Benet Academy. Hinsdale Central's big weekend, beating both Oak Park and Metea Valley, vaults the 13-7 Red Devils into the No. 7 hole. The No. 8 and No. 9 seeds will be up for grabs among Waubonsie Valley, Neuqua Valley, Naperville Central, Bolingbrook and Oswego. Neuqua gets the edge with the recent win over Waubonsie Valley, knocking off Bolingbrook earlier in the year and playing a very competitive schedule.
1. Proviso East
2. Oak Park
5. Lake Park
6. Glenbard West
8. Glenbard North
The breakdown: Proviso East is the no-brainer in the top spot, while Oak Park is the No. 2 seed with a 14-5 record and having played a large portion of the season without standout guard Ka'Darryl Bell. York is as hot as anyone with 12 straight victories and nudges its way to the all-important, miss-Proviso East-in the-sectional-semis-No. 3 seed. Although Schaumburg was missing its top player, Christian Spandiary at the time, York did beat Schaumburg 53-40 in January and hasn't lost since Dec. 29.
Then it gets dicey. Morton has played a large portion of its season without senior Rocco Belcaster, but it did lose to Schaumburg a few weeks ago. Belcaster has returned and the Mustangs have played their typical tough schedule. Lake Park, which will host a regional, has quietly put together a 15-6 season. And although Glenbard West has scuffled since early January after a hot start, the Hilltoppers are still 13-5 and do own early-season wins over both Glenbard North and Glenbard East.
2. St. Viator
8. Rolling Meadows
The breakdown: While Warren is the easy choice as the top seed, St. Viator and Mundelein settle in at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. The biggest debate in this sectional is where to put Waukegan? The Bulldogs are 13-8 but have played one of the toughest schedules of any team in the sectional, knocked off a top five team in New Trier Friday night and have won five straight. Waukegan makes the jump and earns the No. 4 seed.
Barrington is 15-7 and Libertyville is 14-8 but Libertyville has clearly played a tougher schedule, thus earning the No. 5 seed with Barrington settling in at No. 6. The final two seeds are tricky with the likes of Rolling Meadows, Prospect, Grant, Stevenson, Lake Zurich and Lake Forest all having knocked one another off this season and all posting similar win totals. But surprising Grant (15-7) has played well in January and beaten both Stevenson and Rolling Meadows.
5. Joliet West
7. Marian Catholic
The breakdown: Although there are some quality teams and balance in this sectional field, there is a clear pecking order based on season results. Andrew is 17-1 and the No. 1 seed. Bloom has wins over H-F, Crete-Monee and Marian Catholic and is the clear No. 2 seed, followed by H-F and Crete-Monee.
Although Marian Catholic beat Thornwood back in November, Thornwood has played better of late, playing No. 1 seed Andrew to a tight game, while Marian Catholic has gone just 4-5 in its last nine games. Both Minooka and Lockport have more wins than Sandburg, but Sandburg has beaten Lockport twice and Minooka.
Glenbrook South Sectional
1. New Trier
2. Niles North
3. Glenbrook North
4. St. Patrick
5. Niles Notre Dame
6. Maine South
The breakdown: Niles North picked up a big win over Glenbrook North two weeks ago but then promptly dropped two straight to Maine West and Maine South. But a recent 10-game winning streak keeps Niles North (15-7) in the second spot. Glenbrook North sports a solid record, despite playing much of the season without its best player, 6-8 Andrew McAuliffe. The Spartans hold on to the No. 3 seed as a result.
St. Patrick is playing very well, winning eight of its last nine games, and owns January wins over Taft and Niles Notre Dame, but Glenbrook North beat St. Patrick 60-34 back in December. The Shamrocks are the No. 4 seed. Maine South and Evanston have split two games this year, but Maine South won the most recent, lost to New Trier by two points and has gone 9-1 since Jan. 14. Evanston (14-8) beat both Niles Notre Dame and Maine South early in the year but are stumbling heading into seeding week.
4. St. Rita
5. Whitney Young
6. De La Salle
8. Hyde Park
The breakdown: The state's toughest sectional is also a difficult one to seed due mostly to the fact two of the top teams, Whitney Young and St. Rita, have compiled so many out-of-state losses to quality opponents. Simeon and Curie have locked in the top two seeds, respectively, while Bogan slides into the No. 3 hole with an impressive 20-2 record.
St. Rita has beaten De La Salle twice, including a convincing win this past weekend, and has yet to play an entire game with its full roster of healthy players. The Mustangs have earned the No. 4 seed.
What's interesting in this sectional is the No. 6 seed is more favorable than the No. 5 seed. Both seeds will have similar regional foes, but the No. 6 seed will avoid Simeon for another round and not face the No. 1 team in the state until the sectional final. With that being said, Whitney Young and De La Salle will be penciled in as the Hoops Report's No. 5 and No. 6 seeds. De La Salle's most impressive win came against Farragut, a team Whitney Young beat as well. Whitney Young, which owns a win over Crane, has played a brutally tough national schedule and gets the edge.
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