Class 2A Byron sectional
Pairings: Monday -- Game 1) No. 4 Westmont (15-12) vs. No. 5 Lisle (13-14), 6 p.m.; Game 2) No. 3 Aurora Christian (16-11) vs. No. 6 Somonauk (11-14), 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday -- Game 3) Immaculate Conception (21-5) vs. winner Game 1, 6 p.m.; No. 2 St. Edward (20-7) vs. winner Game 2, 7:30 p.m.; Friday -- Championship, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: If seeds hold, St. Edward and Immaculate Conception would meet for the fifth time this season in the title game. IC has won 3 of 4 meetings, including Friday's 62-54 Suburban Christian Gold-clinching victory. First, St. Edward faces Aurora Christian, no easy task. St. Edward defeated Aurora Christian 59-54 on Nov. 30. In turn, the Eagles drilled the Wave 83-44 last week. "In that game they were hitting on all cylinders and we weren't," St. Edward coach P.J. White said. "They hit almost every shot they took. Hopefully, that won't happen again. If it does, heaven help me." Youthful St. Edward is enjoying its first 20-win season since 1996-97 with only two seniors on the roster: point guard Antonio Domel and forward Adrian Ponce. Domel leads the Green Wave in assists (4.9 avg.) steals (2.5) and 3-pointers made (29 of 84). Ponce is the team's leading scorer (214 points) and rebounder (6 avg.). They are supported by juniors John Butzow (7 ppg, 43 steals) and DaVontae Elam (10 ppg, 49 steals) and talented sophomores Nick Duffy (11 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Danny Favela (7 ppg, 6 rpg). To win its first regional title since 2008-09, St. Edward must find a way to beat IC in the title game.
"I'm getting tired of playing those guys even though they've all been good games," White said. "We kind of stunk it up against them on Friday. They started out on fire and we didn't, but we outscored them by 4 points after the first quarter. You just can't spot them 12 points like we did. We didn't make shots early on. Hopefully, we rectify that. We have to figure out how to get our players more comfortable to make their shots."
Advancement: The winner of the Westmont regional plays the winner of the Oregon regional in a Byron sectional semifinal on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 7:30 p.m.
Class 1A Mooseheart sectional
Westminster Christian regional
Pairings: Monday -- Game 1) No. 4 Harvest Christian Academy (16-10) vs. No. 5 Alden-Hebron (9-15), 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday -- Game 2) No. 2 Mooseheart (18-5) vs. No. 7 Faith Lutheran, 6 p.m.; No. 3 Westminster Christian (16-12) vs. No. 6 Elgin Academy (2-17), 7:30 p.m. Wednesday -- Game 4) No. 1 Hinckley-Big Rock (23-4) vs. winner Game 1, 6 p.m.; Game 5) winner Game 2 vs. winner Game 3, 7:30 p.m.; Friday -- Championship, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Elgin's three Class 1A schools have the unfortunate privilege of being assigned to one of the toughest regionals in the state, topped by Hinckley-Big Rock and Mooseheart. "In regards to the top three teams, it's as good as you'll find in Class 1A," Westminster Christian coach and IBCA hall of famer Bruce Firchau said. "I really believe with the way we've been playing since Christmas, we're as good a No. 3 regional seed as any in the state." The Warriors are 10-3 in 2013, led by seniors Will Woodhouse (16.6 ppg) and Colin Brandon (12.6 ppg). Woodhouse is a 38-percent shooter from 3-point range, while Brandon sinks them at a 35-percent clip. The Warriors open against the winner of Harvest Christian Academy and Alden-Hebron. Westminster opens the tournament Tuesday against Elgin Academy, which is led by 6-foot-4 senior Zach Bohenick (6.9 ppg) and 5-8 senior guard Vito Maglio (6.5 ppg). The Warriors and Hilltoppers did not play this season. A victory would advance Westminster to a rematch against Mooseheart, which twice defeated the Warriors by 22 points. The Ramblers are led by a trio of South Sudanese giants, the likes of whom are rarely seen on one Class 1A team: juniors Mangisto Deng (6-7), Makur Puou (6-9) and Akim Nyang (7-1).
"Their size presents quite a task," Firchau said. "Puou and Deng are legitimate Division-I players and they are still so young in their basketball experience. They have awfully bright futures. We've told our players we cannot play a good game and win. We have to play a great game, and they know it. That's the challenge."
The top seed is defending regional champion Hinckley-Big Rock, led by veteran guards Jared Madden and Bernie Conley. Firchau called Conley "the best athlete in the Little 10 Conference." H-BR defeated Mooseheart 58-51 on Dec. 5. Harvest Christian Academy opens play Monday against Alden-Hebron, a team the Lions defeated twice during the regular season. Harvest Christian is led by senior Stuart Wolff (11 ppg) and juniors Jon Vislisel (13.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Kyle Fritz (7.1 ppg) and Dan Turpin (8.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg).
Advancement: The Westminster Christian regional winner plays the Christian Liberty Academy regional winner in a Mooseheart sectional semifinal on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 7:30 p.m.