By Joe Henricksen
The sectional seeds are out and the scouting and analyzing truly begins in preparation for regional and sectional play. While sectional showdowns typically are the most intense, enjoyable and well played games all season long, there are some tantalizing regional matchups to look forward to based on last week's IHSA seeds and draws. Here are a few of those matchups and thoughts the Hoops Report put together.
➥ How about an opening round regional game featuring neighborhood private schools Brother Rice and Marist? These two are right down the street from one another on Pulaski and will bring out the best in one another in what should be as intense of regional semifinal as you'll find anywhere.
➥ Staying in that Argo Sectional, where will you find three potential better regional finals in any one sectional than Curie-Marist, Bogan-De La Salle and Young-St. Rita?
➥ It will be Round IV in the regional opener for rivals St. Charles East and St. Charles North. The two will meet for a fourth time in the regional semis, with the winner likely squaring off with top-seeded Elgin in the regional final. St. Charles North has won two of the three matchups.
➥ The Hoops Report realizes Schaumburg was missing arguably its top player when the Saxons fell to York, 53-40, without the services of Christian Spandiary. But York still beat the Saxons just three weeks ago and had won 12 straight games heading into the seeding week. Yet Schaumburg was awarded the No. 3 seed and York the No. 4 seed. No, it's not a huge deal until you consider who the No. 1 seed is: unbeaten and powerful Proviso East. The No. 3 seed gets to avoid Proviso East for at least an extra round.
➥ It was good to see Waukegan rewarded for its recent strong play, receiving the No. 4 seed in the Barrington Sectional even with a 13-8 record heading into the week. Barrington, Stevenson, Prospect, Libertyville, Rolling Meadows and Grant all had more wins than Waukegan heading into sectional seeding week, but the Bulldogs deserved that No. 4 seed and received it.
➥ On the other end of the spectrum, the Hoops Report realizes Grant, with 16 wins on the season, doesn't play the schedule other teams in the sectional have played. But Grant did have January wins over sectional foes Barrington, Stevenson and Rolling Meadows in non-conference action, yet couldn't do better than a No. 12 seed and was seeded lower than all three? Grant's only loss in the last four weeks came to state-ranked North Chicago, 81-70.
➥ This much we know about the No. 1 seeds throughout the Chicago area: There isn't a No. 1 seed scuffling more right now than New Trier. And the Hoops Report is shocked by the stumbling Trevians, who have dropped three straight and lost the Central Suburban League South lead.
➥ Seriously, is that St. Ignatius sectional field for real? I just bet my mortgage in Vegas on Iggy winning that thing.
➥ While the St. Ignatius Sectional is dreadful, at least the sectional does have St. Ignatius in it. The Sycamore Sectional in Class 3A? Yowza! Johnsburg is a No. 1 regional seed with a current record of 8-15. And there won't be a single 20-game winner heading into regional play among the three other No. 1 regional seeds -- Yorkville, Kaneland and Rockford East. Yes, four-class basketball is terrific.
➥ Hoops Report is really interested to see how Lemont fares in the Rich East 3A sectional. This team has floated along all season, piling up wins -- sitting at 20-2 as I write -- yet has received little to no fanfare. The hope was they would avoid conference foe and sectional favorite Hillcrest until the sectional final, but if it can beat Providence in the regional championship, Lemont would meet Hillcrest in the sectional semis.
➥ Orr will be heavily favored to win its regional as a No. 1 seed, but beating either Wheaton St. Francis or Wheaton Academy at Wheaton Academy will be no picnic.
➥ The best 3A regional championship matchup in the Chicago area will be St. Joseph-Farragut at Nazareth Academy.
Please, Public League, change things!
The city coaches can have their say and beef about how they are grouped, bracketed and assigned to the various IHSA sectionals, but can't they first find a way to fix an archaic and asinine way of seeding and bracketing their own city playoffs?
For starters, Kenwood is a No. 7 seed, while Marshall is a No. 8 seed, Whitney Young a No. 9 seed and Farragut a No. 13 seed? Huh?
Lets see ... Taft, the city's No. 3 seed, is seeded ahead of Bogan and has to beat Jones and Perspectives-Calumet to reach the quarterfinals, while Marshall has to beat Whitney Young, Curie has to beat Crane and Orr has to beat Farragut to reach the quarters? And Foreman, a No. 5 seed, has to beat Julian and Lane to get to the quarters?
Even with the screwy playoff setup, the Public League's four most impressive teams all season long -- Simeon, Bogan, Orr and Curie -- all made it through the first three rounds and will go at it in the city's Final Four Wednesday night. Simeon (22-1) will face Orr (19-3), while Bogan (23-2) takes on Curie (23-1). All four teams are ranked among the top eight in this week's Hoops Report rankings.
The Simeon Way
You better believe there would be a lot of programs that may have looked the other way or come up with "other" forms of discipline for its players heading into a big city quarterfinal game. But that's not how Simeon works. Coach Robert Smith did what he needed to do and suspended several key players for the matchup with Marshall Sunday night. This is just another reason why Simeon has had so little trouble in its program over the years and why this program has won with class, even as they've dominated the prep basketball landscape.
Life in central Illinois
It's good to get out of the Chicago area once in a while and there was no better time to for prep fans than this past weekend to catch two central Illinois showdowns. Springfield Lanphier, the No. 1 ranked team in Class 3A, knocked off Chatham Glenwood in a raucous, sold-out gym to grab its first conference title since the Andre Igoudala-led team back in 2002.
The game featured a pair of the top sophomores in the state. Springfield Lanphier sophomore star guard Larry Austin, who traveled to catch the Missouri-Baylor game on Saturday and received an offer from Mizzou, made just one field goal and finished with four points. Chatham-Glenwood's Peyton Allen led the way with 18 points, including some big plays and a huge 3-pointer in the closing minute.
Then on Saturday, despite a sterling performance from Hoops Report Class of 2013 favorite Alec Peters (Why again aren't more schools on this kid? And why isn't this kid ranked higher?), Washington fell at home to Peoria Central, 51-50, in a battle between two teams ranked among the top four in the state in Class 3A. Peters continues to impress, scoring 27 points on four 3-pointers in a losing effort. Peoria Central (19-2) may not have a marquee player, but it's such a big, strong and athletic group. The Lions now own recent wins over Peoria Manual, St. Joseph and Washington.
Great cause at LT
There is a truly special night planned in LaGrange this Friday when Hinsdale Central travels to Lyons Township for a West Suburban Silver matchup.
The game will be part of a fundraiser to donate money to the Kelli O'Laughlin Memorial Scholarship fund. The O'Laughlin family and the Lyons Township Community suffered a horrific tragedy this past October with the murder of O'Laughlin, who was a freshman student-athlete at LT. The community will unit together Friday night to raise as much money as possible for the scholarship fund.
Ray Clay, the former Chicago Bulls public address announcer, will be behind the microphone and calling the game. There will be raffles throughout the game with various prizes that have all been donated by members of the community, including a hockey stick autographed by the entire Blackhawks team, a Carlos Boozer autographed basketball, $500 in gift cards to various restaurants in the LaGrange area, Sox-Cubs tickets, tickets to a Notre Dame football game next fall against Pitt and many more items. The headliner is the chance for three people in attendance to shoot a halfcourt shot for a new 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer.
Follow the Hoops Report and Joe Henricksen on Twitter @joehoopsreport