These Teams Will Be Playing In Peoria

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By Roy & Harv Schmidt

While others will waste their time and try to look bigger than life at an event that has become relatively insignificant and meaningless (otherwise known as the Chicago Public League playoffs), we have decided to concentrate on more important matters--the Illinois state tournament to be exact. The regional and sectional pairings are out, and it is now time for us to make our predictions on those teams that we believe will advance to the state finals in Peoria in both the Class 3A and 4A ranks.

Let's face it folks! The Chicago Public League playoffs no longer carry any prestige. Just answer this question--what are any of the teams competing in the CPL playoffs playing for other than pride? It is certainly not for a ticket to Peoria, as the Public League gave up its automatic birth in the state finals when coaches opted to have all teams compete in the regional round of the state tournament.

We are not saying that the CPL coaches who voted for this were wrong. In fact, we actually agree with their decision. Under the new format, all Public League teams that lose in the city playoffs are given new life once the state tournament begins. However, with that being said it now means that the Public League playoffs just aren't all that exciting. Gone are the days when the Public League championship game carried the "all or nothing" label to it, with the two best teams grinding it out, with the winner truly being able to claim city supremacy. Now we aren't even sure that the winner of the Public League championship is truly the best team in Chicago every year. Just some food for thought.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's move along and break down the sectional pairings for the Illinois state tournament in both class 3A and 4A. The regional matchups are now set and with that in mind, the time has come for Illinois Prep Bulls-eye to offer our predictions on those teams that we think will be playing in the state finals in Peoria.

Class 4A Predictions:

Hoffman Estates (Sears Centre) Supersectional

Zion-Benton over Glenbrook North

After a mild mid-season slump around Christmas time and after the New Year, Zion-Benton is now playing as well as any team in the state and has experience on its side, as most of Z-B's key players were members of last year's team which finished second in the state. No other team has as many offensive weapons amongst their starting five and now that 6'7 post Markus Yarbrough is back to along with the perimeter attack and athleticism provided by Ohio State class of 2010 recruit Lenzelle Smith, vastly unheralded point guard Ronald Steward and 6'3 wing Quintrell Love, we believe that Zion-Benton is the team to beat not only at Hoffman Estates, but should they make it to Peoria as well.

Glenbrook North is clearly the best team in the Niles North sectional complex. With a gifted offensive performer in 6'6 class of 2010 guard Alex Dragicevich and one of the best coaches in the state in Dave Weber they can undoubtedly play with anybody. However, should they run into Zion-Benton, we are afraid that they might meet their match.

De Kalb (Northern Illinois University) Supersectional

Neuqua Valley over Rockton Hononegah

As is always the case year after year, Neuqua Valley is one of the most explosive offensive teams in the state and is loaded with stellar athletes and quality shooters, including a pair of 6'5 bookend forwards from the 2010 class in Dewayne Evans and Kareem Amedu, 6'0 class of 2010 shooting guard Rahjan Muhammad and 6'6 class of 2009 wing Derek Raridon. However, that is now why we are taking this team to reach Peoria. We are doing so because this Neuqua Valley team is the best defensive team that we have ever seen at the school. We look for them to defeat either Naperville Central or Bolingbrook for the sectional title at Oswego and ultimately reach the state finals for the first time in school history.

Rockton-Hononegah is very well-coached, gets great floor leadership from 6'3 Western Michigan recruit David Brown and has team-oriented players who understand their roles. Should they make it through the Elgin sectional (which we believe they will), we look for them to provide a stiff challenge for Neuqua in the supersectional round.

Chicago State University Supersectional

De LaSalle over Hyde Park

Surprise! Yes, you are looking at it right. After taking nationally ranked Detroit Country Day to overtime at the Windy City Challenge at Loyola University last December, we said that De LaSalle could play with any team in the nation (let alone the state) and after defeating North Lawndale this past weekend at the City-Suburban Showdown at Northwestern University, we are more convinced of it than ever. We realize that De LaSalle's road to Peoria might be the toughest of any team in the state. They are in a loaded sectional at Morton which includes other powerhouses such as Whitney Young, Morton and Foreman and several other talented teams including Lincoln Park, Proviso West, and St. Ignatius. However, De LaSalle has what it takes to beat any and all of them. 5'11 point guard Derek Needham (a Fairfield recruit) and 6'5 class of 2011 wing Dre Henley have been fantastic. And while the team's most highly touted prospect, 6'7 Mike Shaw, who is one of the top prospects in Illinois from the class of 2011, hasn't been bad, just imagine how good De LaSalle can be if Shaw finally starts playing up to his billing and becomes a dominant force game in and game out. We think it is scary!

We look for De LaSalle's supersectional opponent at Chicago State University to be Hyde Park, a team that we had ranked higher than anybody in our preseason rankings of the top 45 teams in the state. As we indicated then and we will say again now, Hyde Park is clearly one of the top four programs in the Chicago Public League this season and features three D1 caliber players in 6'4 Anthony Dixon (San Jose State), 6'2 Malcolm Griffin and 6'5 Jerome Moore. We believe that Griffin is one of the top unsigned recruits in the state from the 2009 class, although Moore is the player who will be the key to Hyde Park's state tournament success.

Normal (Illinois State University) Supersectional

Thornton over Edwardsville

Thornton has clearly emerged as the best team in Chicago's south suburbs this season and might have the most favorable road to Peoria of any team in class 4A. 6'0 class of 2010 guard Reggie Smith has consistently gotten it done in the clutch all season long and is one of those players who simply wills his team to win. Translation: teams with players like Smith often stick around for a long time once the state tournament arrives. We look for Thornton's stiffest test to possibly come in a rematch vs. Bloom in the sectional semifinal at Lincoln-Way North. Thornton defeated Bloom 42-40 in a contest played at Bloom this past weekend. The wild card for Thornton is 6'5 Trevell Rivers, a vastly unheralded player who is an absolute warrior on the glass, a strong finisher and plays much bigger than his listed height.

Who Thornton will play in the supersectional at Illinois State University is a crapshoot, but we are going with Edwardsville to be the team left standing from the Pekin sectional, which does not sport a dominant team per se. While Edwardsville does not feature a superstar player, Mike Waldo is one of the top coaches in the state and always gets his teams to compete and play hard.

Class 4A State Final Predictions:

Final Four: Zion-Benton, Neuqua Valley, De LaSalle, Thornton

Predicted Champion: Zion-Benton

Class 3A Predictions:

Hoffman Estates (Sears Centre) Supersectional

North Lawndale over North Chicago

While we believe that there is a strong possibility that the Chicago Public League could be without a representative in the Class 4A state finals for the first time since the Public League gave up its automatic birth, we don't think that will be the case in Class 3A. In our minds there is no such thing as a "good" loss, but one needs to look at the circumstances under which two of North Lawndale's losses came about. They lost to St. Joseph at the High School Hoops Showdown in Hoffman Estates the night after they suffered an overtime loss to Public League conference rival Whitney Young. And then this past weekend they fell to De LaSalle on the eve of having to play a Public League playoff game the very next day vs. Brooks. In both instances it was a classic example of a Public League team playing too many games in too short of a time span. It will be a different story once the state tournament begins, as North Lawndale will be more than battle-tested and their starting five is as good as any in the state. North Lawndale started the season as our preseason #1 team and we still believe that is where they will end up once the season is over.

We look for North Lawndale's supersectional opponent to be North Chicago, a team that has a relatively easy regional and sectional route. While we like North Chicago's team and regard their backcourt tandem of Keith Ford and Deshawn Chambliss as one of the most unheralded that you will find anywhere, we are not sure that North Chicago has the horses overall to keep up with North Lawndale. The other big question mark is that as of now North Chicago does not have a signature win to their name, although getting one in the supersectional versus either North Lawndale, St. Joseph or Marshall would certainly put them on the map.

Springfield Convention Center Supersectional

Lincoln or Champaign Centennial over Centralia

We are going to have to defer on this prediction for now on account of not having seen Lincoln play as of yet. Everyone who has watched them tells us they are capable of playing with any team in the state. We hope to see for ourselves this coming weekend. Centennial has a strong inside-outside combination which includes 6'1 point guard James Kinney, who we believe is an absolute recruiting steal for Ohio University, 6'2 class of 2010 wing Rayvonte Rice, who has already received scholarship offers from Western Michigan, Wagner and Oregon State and 6'8 class of 2010 post Jeff Johnson.

De Kalb (Northern Illinois University) Supersectional

Rock Island over Sterling

Rock Island took some lumps earlier in the season, but the team is now starting to round into form and the bottom line is that there are few if any teams in their area that can match them in terms of overall offensive firepower, as class of 2010 guards Chasson Randle and Royce Muskeyvalley and class of 2009 forward Brandon Pullman are all capable of putting points on the board. Not only that, but Rock Island will be aided by the fact that most of the Peoria teams (including Peoria Central, Peoria Richwoods and Peoria Notre Dame) will have to grind it out in the same regional, with the winner there most likely having to face Washington in the first game of the sectional. And finally there is the advantage of Rock Island getting the sectional on their home floor. Therefore, we look for the Rocks to edge out Washington in the sectional final in what should be a thrilling contest.

We were surprised that Sterling did not even receive a #1 seed in their sectional, but the bottom line is that they are a veteran team that has been there before, having reached the supersectional at De Kalb a year ago. As a result, we think that Joseph Bertrand and company may have a few more games left in their tank once March arrives.

Chicago State University Supersectional

Rich East over Leo

This one was our toughest prediction, but we really like Rich East's balance, as they feature a pair of quality bookend forwards in 6'5 Stephen O'Neal and 6'6 Shea Sumpter as well as a solid backcourt duo in 6'0 Jamere Dismukes, who has committed to Wisconsin-Parkside and 6'3 class of 2010 prospect Kashaune McKinney. The key is whether or not Sumpter plays up to his level of capability. If he does and the rest of the team performs consistently, we think that Rich East is quite capable of making it through to Peoria.

Leo, led by 5'10 point guard James Pointer and super-athletic and highly underrated 6'2 guard Darrin Johnson, should go untested en route to the supersectional.

Final Four: North Lawndale, Lincoln or Champaign Centennial, Rock Island, Rich East

Predicted Champion: North Lawndale

There you have it. Now that all of our predictions are in, if things go as they have in the past, we will probably end up being wrong on most everything in this blog. But then again, isn't that what March Madness is all about?


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14 Comments

Good pick on 4A. Zion is starting to hit their stride and they are very impressive. I'm glad someone is paying attention.

I disagree with your prediction for the NIU Supersectional. Rock Island and Sterling are both unpredictable and inconsistent and do not have the leadership to put together 4 straight wins to get there. I think Washington will win the Rock Island Sectional and Oswego or Aurora Central Catholic will win the Rochelle Sectional. Sterling might not get out of their own Regional. Can you say over-rated? All year long. That team has nothing other than Bertrand. Unless he scores 30 ppg in the post-season, it will be an early exit for Sterling.

Roy & Harv Respond:

We didn't expect everyone to agree with all of our predictions and again, that is the fun of March Madness. However, we do think that you are being a bit harsh on Sterling. You could be right when you predict that they won't advance to the supersectional, but we do believe that they will get out of the regional.

You do realize that Sterling lost to Freeport last week, right? And that Freeport is the #1 seed in Sterling's Regional, right?

Roy & Harv Respond:

Yes, what is your point? Are we supposed to automatically predict #1 seeds to win regionals? Plus the regional is at Sterling. It could go either way.

My picks in 4A are Thornton,Nequa Valley,Hyde Park,and Waukegan. I don't think ZB can beat Waukegan a second time on their home floor the Dawg Pound. Also look out for Evanston to make another run to the Sears Centre. They have a tough regional draw playing New Trier in the first round at New Trier. If they get past that I can see them getting past Glenbrook North. So the Hoffman Estates Supersectional will be Evanston-Waukegan round three. Problem is I don't think Evanston can run with Waukegan.


Roy & Harv Respond:


Tim,


Even though we are going with Zion-Benton, those are very good picks and we could easily see the four teams that you mention all playing in Peoria.

Just wondering ...

If the Public League had not given up its automatic, would we have four classes?

What were they going to do, have the Public League team that went the furthest pf the 4A teams (Hyde Park) go Downstate? The 3A team (North Lawndale)?


Roy & Harv Respond:

Great question! The answer is probably not. It makes one wonder how much influence the Public League actually had with the formation of the four class system in basketball. While they certainly weren't the ones responsible for creating it, their decision to forfeit the automatic birth to the state finals may have helped pave the way for it.


Do you see Glenbrook North having any trouble getting to supers? That sectional is just so weak and they have already beaten the second and third seeds in it. Also, I've seen the Zee-Bees predicted to return downstate in nearly every tournament projection out there, but I can't see them just walking through that sectional with teams like Lake Forest, Warren, and Waukegan playing at the dog pound. I think they will fall. I would say that the team who wins the Waukegan sectional will go down to Glenbrook North. Ponticelli is participating in practice and thinks he will be back by sectionals. Tough team to beat when all cylinders are clicking.
By the way hope you are back on your feet after what happened at GBN.

Roy & Harv Respond:

We actually believe that Glenbrook North could actually have an even tougher time in the regional at New Trier, as they would likely draw either Evanston or the host school in the regional final. Either one of those contests would be a grudge match, the type of game which is always a dangerous one come state tournament time. With that being said, we do believe that Glenbrook North will survive and make it through the regional as well as the sectional en route to the supersectional at Hoffman Estates.

You are absolutely right about the sectional at Waukegan and we believe that it is the toughest in the state. However, we think that Zion-Benton has the mental toughness as well as the talent to win it although there is no question that the enviroment will be a hostile one.

In response to your final comment, Glenbrook North fans are among the classiest in all of Illinois high school basketball and we appreciate all of the support and encouragement they continue to give us.

I LIKE THE FOUR CHAMPIONSHIP SYSTEM, IT WAS DESIGNED TO
DO WHAT IT IS DOING, NOW YOU SEE TEAMS, YOU NEVER HEARD
OF BECOMING CHAMPIONS, LOOK AT HYDE PARK, A DIAMOND IN
THE ROUGH, SETON ACADEMY A CLASS 2A POWER, NORTH LAWNDALE
THE PHOENIX HAS COME TO LIFE BEFORE OUR VERY EYES!
PRETTY SOON MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS WILL BE MORE COMPETITIVE
AS WELL, LOOK AT VOCATIONAL, THEY ARE ON THE MAP, AND
LEO IS IN THE MIX EVERY YEAR!
I KNOW SOME OF YOU WANT TO BASH THE IHSA BUT IN REALITY
THEY HAVE MADE THE CITY OF PEORIA A HOT TICKET IN FOUR
SEPARATE CLASSES, I THINK IT IS FANTASTIC!
CAN RICH EAST MAKE IT DOWNSTATE?
IS DELASALLE THE TEAM EVERYONE THINKS THEY ARE?
WILL SETON WIN IT ALL?
HAS VOCATIONAL LEARNED ENOUGH TO REBOUND AND MAKE A RUN
FOR PEORIA?
CAN ANYONE PLAY WITH NORTH LAWNDALE?
CAN WHITNEY YOUNG WIN WITH A FOUR GUARD OFFENSE?
WILL THORNTON WIN IT ALL?
HOW MANY OF BRUCE WEBER'S RECRUITS MAKE IT TO PEORIA?
WILL THE CPS HAVE AT LEAST ONE SCHOOL IN PEORIA?
WHAT DOES SIMEON HAVE UP ITS SLEEVE?
WHAT ABOUT T.F. NORTH?
YOU SEE IF THERE WEREN'T FOUR CLASSES, HAVE OF THESE
QUESTIONS WOULD BE MOOT!
LET THE PLAYERS PLAY, LET THE COACHES COACH, AND LET
THE REFS REF, AND LET US ALL SPORT A WINNING ATTITUDE!

anonymous you forget one thing. Evanston has an ace in the hole in Nic Garcia. He's only been back a couple of weeks so I think Evanston is the sleeper of the Niles North Sectional. He has to be dealt with so I am confident the Wildkits can make it back to the Sears Centre for a third year in a row. I will say if you want to get Evanston this is the year to do it. Expect the Wildkits to have powerhouse teams the next two years. Sophmore team won conference and only lost three games all year. And a lot of underclassmen on the Varsity this year, will be returning a lot of players. Also one of the Top Eight Graders is expected to come to Evanston. Lorenzo Dillard.

Phil Smith,

I disagree on the 'value' of the 4-class system. All of these 'teams no one heard of' would still have the same opportunity to show what they're made of.

The major change the class expansion has done is water down ALOT of regionals ans many sectionals. Class 2A and 3A are JOKES. With the exception of the RB sectional, the rest of 3A has no real 'matchups' until the sectional finals (if that). I don't see any big games in the 2A sectionals. Maybe, Hales vs. Providence St. Mel might be a good game.
If you want proof, wait until the regionals are over. Count how many regional finals games are over after the first quarter. Watch the scoreboard for the 20 point wins. The proof is in the scores. WEAK.

I have to disagree with Phil Smith on the 4 class system, he stated that it has made Peoria a hot ticket. That is totally untrue. With the 4 class system, which by the way was a ramrod move by the IHSA, the Civic Center has a large number of empty seats available for any of the sessions. I know this as a fact, I am a season ticket holder and have been in attendance at every session, played in Peoria and Champaign before that, since 1986. The IHSA is doing all they can to ruin the great tradition of Illinois High School Basketball. Just go to this event and ask the coaches, consession workers or any of the employees at the Civic Center and they all tell you this was by far the worst thing that has happened to boys basketball.

Zion will beat these so called "power-houses" in their sectional drive. They are playing the best basketball in Lake county, and then will travel to Peoria and dominate all of those teams. Zion has what it takes. BEElieve me.

DO YOU GUYS WANT TO GO BACK TO JUST A ONE CLASS SYSTEM?
REMEMBER THE 4 CLASS SYSTEM WAS SET UP SO MORE SCHOOLS
WOULD HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE CHAMPIONS, PLEASE DON'T
LOSE SIGHT OF THE GOAL!
REMEMBER MILAN AGAINST CRIPUS ATTUCKS, THAT WAS OSCAR
ROBERTSON'S SCHOOL IN INDIANA, MILAN WON BY THE WAY,
THIS IS WHERE YOU GET THE MOVIE HOOSIERS FROM, THEY JUST
CHANGED THE NAME FROM MILAN TO HICKORY!
THE REASON WHY YOU SAW EMPTY SEATS IN PEORIA IS BECAUSE
THE CPS DOESN'T GET BIG FAN SUPPORT AT THE STATE TOURNEY!
YOU LET T-TOWN OR A PEORIA SCHOOL MAKE IT TO THE DANCE,
AND YOU WON'T GET A SEAT!
I'M SORRY YOU GUYS FEEL THE STATE TOURNEY IS WATERED DOWN
BUT FOR THOSE FOUR TEAMS IN EACH CLASS THAT MAKE IT TO
PEORIA, I THINK THEY WOULD DISAGREE WITH YOU, THIS IS
SOMETHING YOU REMEMBER THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!
WINNING THOSE 5 GAMES TO GET TO PEORIA ARE A VERY SERIOUS
DEAL! STAY TUNED!

I'd like to make a few comments regarding the Niles North Sectional in Class 3A.

New Trier Sectional - I see GBN playing either New Trier or Evanston in the sectional finals. Evanston was way overhyped to begin the season, due to their success last year. They graduated all of their starters and so hopes were high. But they will be boosted by Niles West transfer Nic Garcia. New Trier graduated 4 of 5 starters from last year's team that underperformed losing to Hersey in the sectionals. New Trier and Evanston will play this year in the regional semi-finals. The game will be played at the New Trier East campus. They play all regular season games at Northwestern because the crowds got too big when they played at each other's schools. This game will be the first time I believe that New Trier/Evanston will be played at New Treir since they started regular season games at Northwestern about 10 years ago. The New Trier/Evanston game will be close. The slight edge to New Trier since they play at home.
New Trier and GBN played last year in the regular season where New Trier, with a much more talented team barely beat GBN. Prediction: GBN over New Trier by 12

Prospect Regional - It will be likely Prospect versus Loyola in the final. Prospect is largely unknown and unheralded despite a 10-0 conference record. Loyola has their worse team in at least 10 years but still finished with a respectable 16-9 record. Prediction: Loyola over Prospect by 5

Elk Grove Village Regional -I see Maine East versus Glenbrook South in the final. Maine East is the higher seed (#7) but Glenbrook South will be boosted by the return of Notre Dame University bound Jack Cooley 6-9", who has been sidelined with an injury most of the season but returns this week and is cleared to play. Prediction - GBS over Maine East by 6

Niles Notre Dame Regional - Notre Dame is the favorite to win in this regional. Notre Dame is a team filled with 6-0 to 6-2 interchangeable guys with no super stars. The Dons will play the winner of Maine South versus Von Steuben. Although Maine Sout finished 2nd in the CSL with a 16-8 overall record- I just can't see them beating Von Steuben. Von Steuben is fresh off a good showing in the Public League tournament.
Prediction - Von Steuben over Notre Dame by 1

Sectionals - Believe it or not I see a GBN vs GBS sectional final. Cooley's return will boost GBS. GBN may end out prevailing because they have a team filled with greater shooters. Prediction - GBN by 8 over GBS

I know I picked GBN and you picked GBN - but it is GBN is not a shoo in. GBN is the slight favorite but this sectional is filled with a lot of good teams. A team like Von Steuben, GBS, Notre Dame, and even Evanston all are capable of advancing far in this group. I suspect that few people will be able to accurately predict the winner of this bracket and there will be some surprises along the way.

- Neil Hernandez
www.LaneTechFan.com


Roy & Harv Respond:


Neil,


Very good analysis overall. Just wanted to make a couple of minor corrections. The Niles North sectional is a class 4A sectional, not 3A. And if Glenbrook North meets Evanston or New Trier it would be in the regional final (which we believe is what you meant).

While predictions are only opinions based on different levels of knowledge, I will have to disagree with your assessment in 3A. Sterling has to be one of the longest shots to make it that far. Didn't they just lose to Freeport and 2A IVC? No way they make it to the Supersectional! Washington is playing very strong right now and should be able to go to Rock Island and come away with a victory. They are a very experienced team (your reason for Sterling getting there) with the top 6 players having major palying time in last years final 4 run.

Roy & Harv Respond:


Jeff,

We will see.

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This page contains a single entry by Roy & Harv Schmidt published on February 15, 2009 10:24 AM.

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