Judging by its body of work thus far, Simeon's boys basketball team appears destined to make a return trip to Peoria to defend its Class 4A championship.
The question is whether unbeaten Proviso East will be waiting for the Wolverines in the final on March 17.
If it comes to fruition the star power, headed by Simeon junior Jabari Parker, will be amazing. As much as four-class basketball has dented the prestige of the IHSA basketball tournament, a Simeon-Proviso East 4A title game could be one for the ages.
Standing in the way for Proviso East are the 40 other teams in the Schaumburg and East Aurora sectionals. And all 40 teams know the Pirates are heavily favored to win a sectional title, emerge from the Hinsdale Central supersectional, and hit the road for Peoria.
The Pirates, top-seeded at Schaumburg, have perhaps the top talent in the state this side of Simeon with Keith Carter, Sterling Brown and others.
They have the added advantage of playing host to a regional next week, but that doesn't mean it'll be impossible to deny them a spot in the state's Final Four in Peoria. Just look at last year as inspiration.
Like Proviso East, Benet rolled into last season's postseason with an unbeaten record before being derailed by East Aurora and Ryan Boatright, now at Connecticut, in the sectional semifinals. Even though Glenbard East won the East Aurora sectional and eventually claimed third place in the state, Boatright still showed how much one player can impact the postseason.
Does that type of player exist at Schaumburg or East Aurora? While it's hard to compare anyone to Boatright, a few candidates exist.
Downers Grove South, the second seed at East Aurora, could face Proviso East for the third time this season in the Hinsdale Central supersectional. The Mustangs stayed close to the Pirates in last week's 3-point loss in Maywood, giving them confidence should a third game happen.
No doubt that confidence spawns from senior guard Jerron Wilbut, who may be the most explosive player in the East Aurora sectional. If you had to pick one player who could carry a team to the sectional title, it'd be Wilbut.
Plainfield East, the top seed at East Aurora, may not have played the same tough schedule as Downers South, but the tandem of 6-foot-9 Brian Bennett and guard Dee Brown will make it difficult on teams. -- maybe even Proviso East if the Bengals emerge from the sectional.
Also at East Aurora, keep an eye on Waubonsie Valley junior Jared Brownridge. If he gets hot the seventh-seeded Warriors could challenge anyone in the sectional.
Six-nine Benet center Sean O'Mara has shown flashes of why he's considered among the state's elite sophomores. If he can dominate in the post, few teams will be able to match up with him.
The folks at East Aurora, though, won't be worrying about Proviso East for several games until the sectional champion reaches Hinsdale Central. For the next two weeks, it's the Schaumburg sectional that'll be dealing with the Pirates.
If the Pirates live up to their seed and win their regional, fourth-seeded York and junior guard David Cohn could be waiting in the sectional semis. A scoring terror in the West Suburban Silver, Cohn's 47 points against Hinsdale Central showed he's fully capable of taking over big games.
Oak Park, second-seeded at Schaumburg, surged to the West Suburban Silver title in much part without Bradley-bound guard Ka'Darryl Bell due to a wrist injury. Six-seven Gabe Levin stepped up for the Huskies, and now the duo looks to run the table in the sectional.
There's certainly enough talent out there to question the inevitability of a Simeon-Proviso East final. Parker, Carter, Brown and all the others may be the star attractions, but they could end up being upstaged by someone else.
Starting next week, we'll see who's ready to step up.