They say familiarity breeds contempt.
Hopefully, it also produces some good boys basketball at the Class 2A Aurora Christian regional next week, where scouting reports seem almost superfluous.
“There’s not going to be many surprises,” said IC Catholic Prep coach T.J. Tyrrell, whose Knights are the No. 1 seed at Aurora Christian.
When IC Catholic (19-6) ends its regular season Friday against St. Edward, the No. 2 seed at Aurora Christian, the two Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division rivals will be playing their rubber game, each with a win thus far. The regional favorites could face each other a fourth time at the regional final on Feb. 28.
On Wednesday No. 3 seed Aurora Christian (14-11) beat IC 66-58. Also on Wednesday St. Edward (20-7) beat fifth-seeded Westmont for the second time this season. The Green Wave also is 2-0 against Aurora Christian and sees the Eagles again in a Feb. 25 regional semifinal.
In all sports Westmont (8-19) is the greatest rival to No. 4 seed Lisle (4-21). Lions coach Mark LaScala admits Westmont may have the better body of work, but Lisle earned the higher seed when on Feb. 7 Lions guard Nick Massura, forwards Jeremy Glavanovits and Connor Bielat and center Shane Murray all reached double figures in a 67-62 Interstate Eight Conference victory.
“I think to some degree it helps settle the score,” LaScala said of this familiarity.
“The thing that’s a disadvantage, that the coaches don’t like, is they can’t surprise anybody,” he said. “They’re well-scouted, and you’re not going to out-prepare somebody. The kids are going to decide it. I think that’s scary as a coach sometimes — your stuff is not better than somebody else’s stuff. Maybe that’s the way it should be.”
Each team, however, brings something different, Tyrrell said.
“Lisle brings some size,” he said, noting the 6-foot-7 Murray and 6-6 Glavanovits. “Westmont is a real gritty team that executes their matchup zone very well. ’Ed’s’ is very balanced, a deep bench, well-rounded, with skilled players. That makes them a tough out.
“And Aurora Christian,” Tyrrell said, “they’re an extremely strong outside shooting team, so they’re a little different from some of the teams, where they have multiple players who can knock down 3s. It makes them a very scary team to face. So they’re very interesting teams, and I think whoever comes out could have some success at the (Bureau Valley) sectional.”
IC Catholic, which enters its regular-season finale against St. Edward already having clinched its third straight SCC Gold title, seeks momentum after Aurora Christian’s Zach Singer zapped the Knights for 22 points on Wednesday and Eagles point guard Johnathan Harrell scored 11 points with 10 rebounds.
“He pretty much does it all for us,” Aurora Christian coach Pat McNamara said of Harrell.
St. Edward’s Davontae Elam, athletic and strong, has shown the greatest consistency of any guard in this regional to score points, but IC’s three-pronged backcourt of Ross Fleming, Sean Sutton and Anthony Taylor has earned praise as a pressuring trio, and both Taylor and 3-shooting Sutton are viable point producers along with veteran Knights forward Clark Brinkman.
Tyrrell touts St. Edward’s depth. Led by guards Elam, Joe French and John Butzow, St. Edward coach A.J. White got scoring from 12 players Wednesday against Westmont, and he has forward Nick Duffy coming back from mononucleosis next week.
Yet Tyrrell can summon length and athleticism — although lacking playoff experience — off his bench with Jordan Rowell and Will Lyles, plus shooter Troy Burrows.
IC Catholic also fields arguably the regional’s marquee player in sophomore Rhashaun Epting. Having scored at least 10 points in every game this season with a high of 33 against St. Edward on Jan. 17, the 6-foot-3 forward averages 20 points and 8 rebounds.
Each coach and player at the Aurora Christian regional is familiar with him — and everyone else. That shouldn’t lessen the pressure and excitement of win-or-go-home basketball.
“It’s such a different feeling from the year, and we’re looking forward to it,” Tyrrell said. “And it only comes one month out of the year.”