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Class 4A Rockford East sectional final
Streamwood (22-8) vs. Huntley (24-6)
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
How they got here: Streamwood defeated Dundee-Crown 47-23 and South Elgin 54-34 to win the Streamwood regional then downed Cary-Grove 45-44 in the sectional semifinals. Huntley beat DeKalb 50-46 and Belvidere North 60-41 to win the Belvidere North regional then defeated Harlem 46-37 in the sectional semifinals.
Outlook: It's doubtful that Streamwood coach George Rosner and Huntley mentor Steve Raethz shook hands after their Nov. 17 game in the Dundee-Crown Thanksgiving tournament saying, "See you in the sectional finals." Yet that's where the Sabres and Red Raiders find themselves, with a trip back to Dundee-Crown and Monday's supersectional on the line.
Huntley won that early-season game, overcoming a slow start to triumph 52-42. The Andrews sisters, junior Sam and freshman Ali, combined for 41 points in that game and despite the fact the Raiders have been getting more balanced scoring as of late with Haley Ream and Bethany Zornow each stepping up offensively, Streamwood's No. 1 task will be to try and stop the Huntley sister tandem that has wreaked havoc on opponents all season.
Streamwood, meanwhile, has been led all season by the "Big Three" of seniors Jessica Cerda and Deja Moore and junior Hannah McGlone. All three scored in double figures in the first meeting with Huntley, but Cerda and Moore each fouled out.
Both of these teams pride themselves on defense above all, and they each won their sectional semifinal because of good defense. Rebounding will also be a key as Streamwood will try to negate Huntley's size advantage.
This is Streamwood's first chance at a sectional title since 1988, when the Sabres advanced to the Class AA Batavia supersectional before losing to York. Huntley, which was a No. 3 regional seed, is seeking the program's first sectional title and is hoping to become the first Fox Valley Conference team to reach a Class 4A supersectional since Jacobs went downstate in 2004.
Advancement: The winner of the Rockford East sectional plays the winner of the Bartlett sectional Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Dundee-Crown supersectional. Wheaton Warrenville South and Wheaton North meet in the Bartlett final.
Class 3A Genoa-Kingston sectional final
Burlington Central (26-4) vs. Sterling (21-12)
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
How they got here: Sterling knocked off Rock Falls 50-43 in overtime then beat Rochelle 47-44 to win the Sterling regional before beating Rockford Lutheran 60-54 in the sectional semifinals. Burlington Central downed Hampshire 36-26 and then beat Plano 38-34 to win the Central regional, then ran past Marian Central 54-29 in the sectional semis.
Outlook: The state's icon of girls basketball against a program that hasn't been in a sectional final since 1987 or a supersectional since 1984. A former Rocket coach, Julie Schroeder, against her old school. A classic matchup that should be a crowd-pleaser.
Sterling, a No. 3 regional seed, has caught lightning in a bottle in the postseason and the Golden Warriors continue to play through their coach, who left BC in 2004, having a heavy heart after the auto accident death of former Sterling coach Bruce Scheidegger last week. Scheidegger, who had spent the last 5 years as athletic director at Sandburg, hired Schroeder as an assistant coach at Sterling and she took over the program when he left for Orland Park. Scheidegger coached the Warriors downstate in 2007, their last trip to Redbird Arena.
In Monday's win over Rockford Lutheran, Sterling senior Stephanie Kester was 8-for-10 shooting and hit a school-record tying six 3-pointers and the Warriors outrebounded Lutheran 45-24, led by 18 from 5-foot-11 forward Kiarra Harris.
"Sterling is a heck of a team," said Burlington Central coach Mark Smith of the Warriors, who lost to Belvidere North in the sectional semifinals last year. "They kind of play like us and they really like to run the floor."
Which the Rockets do as well, while also playing solid ball-pressure defense. BC has flourished with balance offensively, getting 16 points from freshman reserve Sam Pryor, 13 from freshman Kayla Ross and 12 from sophomore Alison Colby in the win over Marian. Freshman Shelby Holt has big-time 3-point potential and senior guard Camille Delacruz has been the stabilizer in the calm and cool department.
One interesting tidbit on the coaches is this: Smith is the fifth coach at Central since Schroeder left. Schroeder, in her sixth year as the Warriors' head coach, is the fifth coach in Sterling program history.
Advancement: The Genoa-Kingston sectional winner advances to Monday's Hoffman Estates supersectional at 7:30 p.m. to play the winner of the Vernon Hills sectional. Defending Class 3A state runner-up Vernon Hills takes on Regina Dominican in the final at VH.