Class 4A Bolingbrook sectional
Top four seeds: Oswego, Benet, Neuqua Valley, West Aurora.
Regional hosts: Batavia, Benet, Oswego East, WW South.
Players to watch: Juozas Balciunas, Lemont; Jared Brownridge, Waubonsie Valley; Nick Czarnowski, Naperville Central; Sean O'Mara, Benet; Matt Rafferty, Hinsdale Central; Jabari Sandifer, Neuqua Valley; Miles Simelton, Oswego; Jontrel Walker, West Aurora.
Darkhorse: Hinsdale Central.
Outlook: You know a sectional's deep when the 10th seed, Lemont, has 23 wins. Don't be surprised if some of the top dogs aren't barking heading into sectional play at Bolingbrook. Oswego (26-2) and Simelton, a player capable of taking over this sectional, snagged the top seed after taking third at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. Based on schedule, though, Benet made a strong argument for No. 1 after beating York, Curie, Homewood-Flossmoor, Notre Dame, Marian Catholic and West Aurora. The post tandem of 6-foot-9 O'Mara and Pat McInerney boasts a combined seven varsity seasons, so the Redwings are well-versed in big games. Plus, they've got a huge advantage playing at home in the regional. The Benet regional also may see a third meeting between cross-town rivals Naperville Central (17-9) and Naperville North (19-8). Similarly, District 204 rivals Neuqua Valley (23-2), the third seed, and Waubonsie Valley (20-7) could meet in the Oswego East regional final. Keep an eye on WW South, where No. 4 West Aurora (20-6) and No. 5 Hinsdale Central (18-6) could meet. Six-foot-eight sophomore Matt Rafferty and the Red Devils just saw their 12-game winning streak snapped by state-ranked Proviso East.
They said it: "It's as deep as any sectional in the state. There are going to be some very interesting first-round games and some great regional finals." - Benet coach Gene Heidkamp.
Class 4A Schaumburg sectional
Top four seeds: Proviso East, York, Oak Park, Glenbard East.
Regional hosts: Proviso West, York, Glenbard North, Hoffman Estates.
Players to watch: Sterling Brown, Proviso East; David Cohn, York; Tahron Harvey, Glenbard East; Keith Hayes, Glenbard West; Paris Lee, Proviso East; Miki Ljuboja, Riverside-Brookfield; Erick Locke, Oak Park; Waller Perez, Morton.
Darkhorse: Glenbard East.
Outlook: There's no question Southern Methodist University-bound Sterling Brown, Illinois State University-bound Paris Lee and top-seeded Proviso East (22-3) are the class of the sectional and one of the state's elite teams. What's unknown is who might challenge the Pirates at Schaumburg. The top three seeds and four of the top six seeds come from the West Suburban Conference. Second-seeded York (20-7) and four-year starting guard David Cohn, headed to Colorado State University, get a boost by playing the regional at home. Look for a possible barnburner of a regional final at Glenbard North, where No. 3 Oak Park (17-9) and No. 6 Morton (16-7) could rekindle a WSC crossover rivalry. The Huskies won last year's regional final matchup as well as their game earlier this season. Outright DuPage Valley Conference champion Glenbard East (18-6) has endured its ups and downs this season, but DVC player of the year Tahron Harvey and the Rams persevered and they will anchor the Hoffman Estates regional as the fourth seed. Glenbard East may face an unknown in No. 5 Riverside-Brookfield (20-7), which makes the jump from Class 3A to 4A. Should they survive, the Rams would gladly take their chances against powerful Proviso East in the sectional semifinals.
They said it: "Obviously Proviso East is the top dog. After that it's wide open." - Glenbard East coach Scott Miller.
-- Kevin Schmit