As the old saying goes, it's win or go home time.
The Class 4A IHSA girls basketball state tournament series gets under way Monday night around the state, and teams in the Fox Valley area won't be experiencing anything very new when they begin regional play.
All area Class 4A teams except Bartlett have been assigned to the Crystal Lake South sectional complex. Regionals will be played at Jacobs, Cary-Grove, Rockford Jefferson and Hononegah.
Bartlett is part of the Addison Trail sectional field and will play in the Glenbard East regional.
Here's how the postseason breaks down.
Jacobs regional: If seeds hold, South Elgin and Streamwood would meet for the third straight year for a regional title. South Elgin beat the Sabres in 2012 and Streamwood won its first regional title in 25 years last season.
The Storm (18-9) is the top seed at Jacobs with Streamwood (13-12) No. 2.
The regional opens Monday night at 6 p.m. with No. 4 seed Larkin (10-18) taking on No. 5 Jacobs (7-20), followed by No. 3 Dundee-Crown (8-21) facing No. 6 Elgin (6-21) at 8 p.m. The Larkin-Jacobs winner faces South Elgin and Streamwood gets the D-C/Elgin winner in Tuesday's semifinals with the title game Thursday.
South Elgin has gone 9-3 since Christmas and finished in a second-place tie with Bartlett in the Upstate Eight Valley.
Storm coach Tim Prendergast is taking nothing for granted and won't think about a Streamwood matchup until his team gets past Larkin or Jacobs.
"They're all playing better," Prendergast said of the 3-6 seeds. "If someone gets caught napping one of those teams could knock somebody off. The state tournament can be a crap shoot. Kids can get tight sometimes so it's my job to keep them loose and we just need to play the kind of basketball we have all year."
South Elgin's offense has been led all season by a pair of seniors., Savanah Uveges and Kennede Miller. Uveges, who will play soccer at Nebraska, averages 10.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game and leads the area in assists at 4.4 per game. Miller, who will play basketball at Division III Emery University in Georgia, averages 10 points and 7.1 rebounds per game and has 30 3-pointers. Sophomore Nadia Yang (8.2 ppg, 32 3-pointers) and senior Anna Tracy (7.6 ppg, 28 3-pointers) have also had big games.
South Elgin has made 134 3-pointers as a team this season.
Streamwood, meanwhile, has managed a .500 season despite heavy graduation losses from last year's sectional finalist and despite starting the season without 6-foot senior Hannah McGlone, who was out with an illness. McGlone, who hit the 1,000-point mark for her career earlier in the season, is 7 rebounds shy of 1,000 for her career. The Winona State recruit averages 14.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per game, while senior guard Holly Foret (11.8 ppg., 46 3-pointers) gives the Sabres an outside threat as well. Junior guard Kiana Jeremiah also chips in 8.3 points per game.
"Our goal is exactly the same as every team that starts playing Monday and that's to win a regional championship," said Sabres' coach George Rosner. "We had a taste of that last year and liked it."
Streamwood has the added incentive in Tuesday's game of going for their coach's 400th career win, something that Rosner admits is out there but not the main focus.
"I mentioned it once to the girls because it was in the paper," said the IBCA Hall of Famer. "But I told them it was the last time I'm bringing it up. Our goal is to win the regional. I know it's there and I'd like to get it with this team but the focus isn't on me, it's on us winning the regional."
The 3-6 seeds would all like to have something to say about that. Dundee-Crown, under first-year coach Sarah Miller, has shown sparks at times, as has Jacobs under second-year coach Joe Benoit. The Chargers are led by senior Emily Michalski (9.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and juniors Lauren Lococo (7.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Jesania Laboy (7.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg), while Jacobs is led by junior Jenny Barnec (7.3 ppg) and freshman Carly Sidor (7.1 ppg).
Larkin has fashioned one of its most successful seasons of late and is led by senior Victoria Patterson (15.4 ppg) and freshman Marlee Kyles (12.5 ppg). Elgin, led by senior Maggie Powers (9 ppg) comes into the postseason on a 10-game losing streak.
Cary-Grove regional: The host Trojans (16-11) have won four straight regional titles but are seeded third this year behind Prairie Ridge (19-8) and Crystal Lake South (16-12).
The regional opens Monday night with No. 4 seed Crystal Lake Central (14-13) taking on No. 5 McHenry (10-18) ahead of Cary-Grove facing No. 6 Grant (10-14).
Junior Katie Barker (18.6 ppg), the second leading scorer in the area, has been Cary-Grove's main offensive threat all season. She also leads the area with 69 3-pointers.
Crystal Lake South, which owns two wins over C-G this season, has a milestone well within reach as senior Sara Mickow, who just eclipsed 1,000 career rebounds, is 3 points shy of 1,000 for her career. Mickow averages 13.2 points per game and leads the area in rebounding at 15.7 per game. Rachel Rasmussen has hit 42 3-pointers for the Gators.
Jefferson regional: Huntley (24-3) is the heavy favorite to win this regional and begin its quest for a second straight trip to the IHSA Final Four. The Red Raiders, who won the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division championship undefeated, are on a 12-game winning streak and have lost only to Whitney Young, Marian Catholic and Fremd.
Huntley's game has no secrets to it -- to beat the Raiders you have to shut down the Andrews sisters, senior Sam and sophomore Ali, and few teams have been able to do that. Ali Andrews averages 18.2 points per game and Sam 17. Sam is also the area's free throw leader at 85 percent and the two have combined for 65 3-pointers.
DeKalb (21-7) is the No. 2 seed at Jefferson.
Glenbard East regional: As soon as Bartlett (16-11) got the No. 8 seed in the Addison Trail sectional complex, Hawks' coach Denise Sarna knew that all it really means is her team will wear its white uniforms in Wednesday's regional opener against No. 9 St. Charles North (14-12). The winner returns Friday, most likely to play top-seeded Wheaton Warrenville South (25-3) and DePaul recruit Meghan Waldron for the regional title. WWS was an Elite Eight qualifier a year ago, losing to Huntley in the Dundee-Crown supersectional. In 2012 Bartlett beat the Tigers in the sectional final at Hoffman Estates.
"We've had the eight (seed) before and all it means are the teams are evenly matched," said Sarna. "There's a lot of evenly matched teams in our sectional."
The Hawks are led by senior all-conference selections Liz Arco (10 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Ally Giampapa (11.5 ppg, 42 3-pointers).
"We've been working on improving our defense and setting stricter defensive goals," Sarna said. "The girls are working hard and coming together quite well. I've been real pleased with our seniors. We challenged them about midseason to step up and I think they've answered the challenge."
St. Charles North, led by junior Nichole Davidson and sophomore Morgan Rosencrants, has won four of its last five under first-year coach Sean Masoncup, including a 56-51 UEC crossover win over South Elgin, a team Bartlett split with.
"St. Charles North is a very good team that's been on a roll," Sarna said. "We'll have to bring our A game to win and that's what we've been working on."