Class 4A DeKalb sectional
South Elgin regional
Pairings: Monday -- Game 1) No. 4 Elgin (13-13) vs. No. 5 Streamwood (11-18), 6 p.m.; Game 2) No. 3 St. Charles North (16-10) vs. No. 6 South Elgin (5-22), 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday -- Game 3) No. 1 Larkin (21-5) vs. winner Game 1, 6 p.m.; No. 2 St. Charles East (15-11) vs. winner Game 2, 7:30 p.m.; Friday -- Championship, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Welcome to the rivalry regional, where the seating capacity of South Elgin's gymnasium will be tested Tuesday night. If seeds hold in Monday's play-in games, fans would be treated to a dynamic Tuesday doubleheader of Elgin vs. Larkin followed by St. Charles East vs. St. Charles North.
First things first. The regional opens with a play-in game between Elgin and Streamwood. Elgin, led by area leading scorer Arie Williams (23 ppg), defeated the Sabres twice this season, by 11 and 14 points.
"We have their number right now," Williams said of Streamwood, "but they're going to come out hungry and with more intensity, We have to match it."
Streamwood aims to extend the career of retiring coach Tim Jones. If his Sabres indeed manage to beat his alma mater, they would advance to play Larkin and Jones' junior son, Drew. Elgin hopes to negate that possibility by beating Streamwood, thereby forcing a fourth meeting against rival Larkin. The Royals swept 3 games from Elgin during the regular season. "We have to take one from Larkin, man. It's already been too long," Williams said.
St. Charles North, led by 6-foot-4, Loyola-bound senior Quinten Payne, opens play Monday against injury depleted South Elgin, which has lost 10 straight. St. Charles East gets the winner. The Saints have won 2 of 3 meetings against St. Charles North this season, though North won the most recent tilt 62-49 on Feb. 2.
UEC River outright champion Larkin went 9-1 against teams in this regional, losing only to Streamwood in a Nov. 27 upset. The Royals enter the playoffs stinging from back-to-back losses against UEC Valley champion Neuqua Valley. Larkin attacks with a trio of all-UEC River guards: seniors Quantice Hunter and Quentin Ruff and junior Kendale McCullum.
"Our confidence is still high," Ruff said after Friday's 19-point loss at Neuqua. "We just have to put this behind us and keep playing hard like we can play."
Advancement: The winner of the South Elgin regional will face the winner of the Rockford East regional in a DeKalb sectional semifinal on Tuesday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Rockford East regional
Pairings: Monday -- Game 1) No. 4 Belvidere North (8-20) vs. No. 5 DeKalb (8-21), 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday -- Game 2) No. 1 Rockford Jefferson (17-12) vs. winner Game 1, 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday -- No. 2 Rockford East (16-10) vs. No. 3 Huntley (17-8), 7:30 p.m.; Friday -- Championship, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Huntley, three-time champion of the Fox Valley Conference's Valley Division, seeks its third straight regional title. The Red Raiders will have to do it the hard way after getting stuck with the No. 3 seed. They open the playoffs on Wednesday against Rockford East, which finished in a three-way tie for second place in the NIC-10, two games behind league champion Belvidere. Jefferson is the top seed despite finishing sixth in the NIC-10 with a 9-7 league record. Huntley enters the playoffs on the heels of a 17-point loss to Crystal Lake Central on Friday.
"Rockford East will definitely try to speed us up and trap us and push the tempo," Huntley coach Marty Manning said. "They'll score points just because of how they push the ball up the floor. We have to be able to score with them, but I think there are some things we can do defensively to frustrate them a little. If we have a night like we did Friday, we'll be done. But if we play well, we can compete with every team in our sectional."
Veteran Huntley is led by fourth-year varsity guard Bryce Only, who averages 9.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Senior guard Jake Wagner leads the team in scoring (9.9 ppg) and shoots 42.6 percent from 3-point range (40 of 94). Junior Zach Gorney averages 9 points and 4.5 rebounds. Junior Amanze Egekeze has averaged 12 points and 5.6 rebounds in 11 games since returning from injury in January.
Advancement: The winner of the Rockford East regional will face the winner of the South Elgin regional in a DeKalb sectional semifinal on Tuesday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Pairings: Monday -- Game 1) No. 4 Cary-Grove (12-15) vs. No. 5 Crystal Lake South (13-14), 6 p.m.; Game 2) No. 3 Jacobs (16-14) vs. No. 6 Prairie Ridge (8-18), 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday -- Game 3) No. 1 Crystal Lake Central (24-3) vs. winner Game 1, 6 p.m.; Game 4) No. 2 Dundee-Crown (19-6) vs. winner Game 2, 7:30 p.m.; Friday -- Championship, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: The question here is whether any team can knock off powerful Crystal Lake Central. The Tigers, champions of the Fox Division of the Fox Valley Conference, enter the playoffs fresh off Friday's 54-37 thrashing of three-time FVC Valley champion Huntley.
CL Central is 4-0 against teams in this regional. It awaits the winner of Monday's opener between Cary-Grove and Crystal Lake South. Those teams split 2 regular-season meetings. First-year CL South coach Matt LePage has the Gators peaking at the right time; they've won 5 straight after losing 8 of 11.
The host Golden Eagles are looking to extend the career of IBCA hall-of-fame coach Jim Hinkle as long as possible. Jacobs opens against Prairie Ridge, a team it split two conference meetings against. A victory would advance the Golden Eagles to a rematch against rival Dundee-Crown in Tuesday's semifinal. Jacobs and D-C split 2 conference games, including Jacobs' 76-66 double-overtime victory on the very same floor on Jan. 15.
"Both teams present problems for us," D-C coach Lance Huber said of Prairie Ridge and Jacobs. "Obviously, Jacobs beat us at their place. It's never easy to play a team on their home floor in the postseason, but we have to deal with it if that's what happens."
Crystal Lake Central did not play Dundee-Crown or Jacobs during the regular season.
Advancement: The winner of the Jacobs regional will play the winner of the Hononegah regional in a DeKalb sectional semifinal on Wednesday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Top seed Hononegah (16-11) aims to defend its home court. The Indians finished fifth in the NIC-10 Conference. Defending sectional champion Auburn (17-11) finished in a three-way tie for second place in the NIC-10. The second-seeded Knights open the tournament Wednesday against No. 3 Boylan (18-8). The winner will likely play Hononegah for the title.
Class 4A Schaumburg sectional
Pairings: Monday -- Game 1) No. 15 Lyons (12-14) vs. No. 10 Willowbrook (10-16), 6 p.m.; Game 2) No. 10 Leyden (16-10) vs. No. 23 West Chicago (5-22); Tuesday: No. 2 York (20-7) vs. winner Game 1, 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday -- Game 3) No. 7 Bartlett (19-9) vs. winner Game 2, 7:30 p.m.; Friday -- championship game, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Bartlett aims to win its first regional since 2009 behind senior guard Lance Whitaker, a UIC-bound senior guard who averages 19 ppg. The Hawks open the playoffs against the winner of Monday's play-in game between Leyden and West Chicago. A victory would land Bartlett in the title game, most likely against host York. The Dukes are led by Colorado State-bound point guard David Cohn, who recently surpassed 1,500 career points.
"Since the IHSA went to a four classes it made sectionals themselves harder to get out of due to the talent pool because you have teams in the 9 and 10 (seeds) that are 16, 17, 18-win teams," Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. "Leyden is one of those teams. They have some good shooters. The hope is we'll be ready and play some good basketball.
"York has everything they need to make a quality tournament run with a good point guard in David Cohn, good shooters around him and some big, strong posts who can rebound or score themselves. They are the real deal, legitimate, and playing at home in the regional makes them doubly dangerous."
Advancement: The winner of the York regional will face the winner of the Glenbard North regional in a Schaumburg sectional semifinal on Tuesday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. Oak Park-River Forest (17-9) is the top seed at Glenbard North.
Class 3A Freeport sectional
Burlington Central regional
Pairings: Monday -- Game 1) No. 4 Burlington Central (13-13) vs. No. 5 Genoa-Kingston (16-10), 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday -- Game 2) No. 1 Hampshire (22-5) vs. winner Game 1, 6 p.m.; Game 3) No. 2 Sycamore (17-9) vs. No. 3 Rochelle (11-18), 7:30 p.m.; Friday -- Championship, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Hampshire is the favorite to win its first regional title since the 2004-05 season. The Whip-Purs own the top seed, led by senior guard Tyler Crater (17 ppg), senior center Shane Hernandez (11) and junior guard Ryan Cork (8.5).
The Whips open postseason play Tuesday against the winner of Monday's play-in between Burlington Central and Genoa Kingston.
Burlington Central opened the season 0-7 but has since won 13 of 19 and the outright Big Northern East title. The Rockets are led by senior forward Moter Deng (11.6 ppg, 5 rpg) and senior guard Ryan Ritchie (9.3 ppg). They swept 2 games from Genoa-Kingston in regular-season play but were swept by Hampshire early in the season, 59-54 and 62-51.
Rochelle is led by senior guard Grant Prusator, who eclipsed 1,500 career points earlier this season. He and the Hubs will attempt to advance at Sycamore's expense.
"It's winnable," Hampshire coach Bob Barnett said of the regional. "Rochelle's good. I went over there last week and watched Prusator drop about eight 3-pointers and score 26 points in the first half. They're good. So is Sycamore. We'll get there when we get there. One at a time."
Advancement: The winner of the Burlington Central regional will face the winner of the Illinois Math and Science Academy regional in a Freeport sectional semifinal on Wednesday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. Suburban Christian Blue champion Wheaton Academy (19-6) is the top seed at IMSA.