As the regular season comes into the home stretch this week for Class 3A and Class 4A girls basketball teams, crossover matchups in the Upstate Eight and Fox Valley conferences will take center stage later in the week.
Over the past couple of years, some coaches in each conference have expressed how they'd prefer to play an out-of-conference school in this final regular-season game but for now the crossovers remain.
As things potentially change with the makeup of both the UEC and FVC over the next couple of years, we could see the end of the crossovers but neither league has made that final determination yet.
Another thing that neither league has done is anoint these games as anything more than that -- just another game. There is no "championship" attached to Friday night's first-place crossovers in either conference and it really doesn't make sense as to why.
Nevertheless, the games will go on. The UEC matchups are set while the final schedule in the FVC won't be determined until after Tuesday night's games, and possibly not until after Dundee-Crown and McHenry play a makeup game on Thursday.
In the Upstate Eight, Neuqua Valley will play at Batavia on Friday in the "championship" game. All other crossovers will be Thursday night and there are two interesting battles set in the top half of the standings with Bartlett playing at Geneva and South Elgin traveling to St. Charles North. All four of those teams will be getting a much-needed challenge prior to the start of the state tournament next week.
The other UEC crossovers Thursday have Metea Valley at Streamwood, Waubonsie Valley at St. Charles East, West Chicago at Larkin and East Aurora at Elgin.
Unless Grayslake North stumbles against Woodstock North on Tuesday, the Friday FVC "championship" game will have Huntley playing at Grayslake North.
The remainder of the FVC matchups are to be determined but it does look like either Jacobs or Dundee-Crown, which play each other tonight at Jacobs, will be at Hampshire.
All of the FVC crossovers are on Friday night.
Elsewhere this week: Huntley has already wrapped up its first girls basketball title in the Fox Valley Conference but the Red Raiders can make it an undefeated championship with a win at home Tuesday night against Crystal Lake South ... also on Tuesday St. Edward, which at 16-8 is flying under some radars, has an interesting nonconference tilt at St. Viator. Burlington Central, whose schedule was altered as much as any team in the area by the bad weather postponements, has a busy week. The Rockets played at Marengo Monday night and they're at Harvard Tuesday as they go for their second straight undefeated Big Northern East championship. And on Thursday, BC gets its final tuneup before the Class 3A postseason with a nonconference game at Glenbard West.
Rare, indeed: Westminster Christian senior McKaila Hays and Harvest Christian junior Kylee Knox each achieved a career milestone last week by scoring the 1,000th point of their careers. While they join an elite group of players with that distinction, what makes it worth mentioning again is that Hays and Knox did it on the same night, and just a little over a mile away from each other as they each played at home. You don't see that happen everyday.
Proud grandpa: One of the proudest guys in the gym when Westminster's Hays scored her 1,000th point was her grandfather, Bud Lachel. Lachel, a West Dundee resident, is the retried longtime tennis coach at Cary-Grove who has not only been the official scorer at the IHSA state final girls basketball tournament at Redbird Arena, but who has also volunteered his time to don the official scorer's shirt at Westminster the past few years.
A final thought: Shifting for just a moment to the world of boys basketball. Any of us who have been around the Elgin area for a while had to have a moment of silence last week when Elgin High School announced the end, after 39 years, of its Christmas tournament. As Proviso West and York expanded their fields to 32 teams over the past few years, and as Jacobs continued to grow and offers a five-game format, the writing was on the wall at Elgin. Unfortunately, Elgin was forced to accept more teams from the Chicago Public League than I'm sure it ever wanted to take, and with that came forfeits and a severe lack of fan support.
While it's sad to see the Elgin tournament end, and a facility like Chesbrough Field House go without a holiday tournament, it also does so with some great memories. Tops on that list, for me anyway, were the years Sonny Cox brought his Chicago King team with Marcus Liberty and Co. to Elgin.
Times change ... oh yes they do.