Cary-Grove coach Ralph Schuetzle and Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts expressed surprise for different reasons when seeds for the upcoming Class 4A Elgin boys basketball sectional were released on the IHSA website Thursday afternoon.
Cary-Grove (15-10, 7-4) was named the No. 1 seed at the Crystal Lake Central regional, followed by Fox Valley Conference Valley Division brethren Prairie Ridge (15-10, 6-5), Jacobs (13-12, 7-3), Crystal Lake South (14-10, 3-7) and Dundee-Crown (6-16, 2-8). Crystal Lake Central (3-21, 2-8 FVC Fox) is the No. 6 seed.
The order caught both coaches off-guard, particularly in the wake of Jacobs' 47-31 victory at Cary-Grove on Tuesday, which completed a 2-game sweep of the season series for the Golden Eagles. Jacobs split 2 games against Prairie Ridge.
Said Roberts: "We felt that over the course of the season, with the schedule that we played and the common opponents shared by all the teams in our regional, we thought that would have put us in a position to be a higher seed than we are, specifically our 2 wins over Cary-Grove."
The top two seeds in six-team regionals gain byes, meaning No. 3 Jacobs has to win 3 games to win a regional title. The Golden Eagles will face a play-in game against CL Central for the right to play Prairie Ridge in a semifinal.
"The thing that upsets me is we had just gotten done watching film, we clicked on the (IHSA) link to see the seeds and our kids just had to laugh," Roberts said. "They're (ticked). And they're right. Our kids deserved better. We'll have the chance to make amends for what should have been the right thing."
Schuetzle had his team pegged for the No. 2 seed. He said he voted Jacobs No. 1, his Trojans No. 2 and Prairie Ridge third. Cary-Grove swept Prairie Ridge by 26 and 9 points, respectively.
"That's surprising," Schuetzle said of being named No. 1. "In my mind if a team beats you twice, that says something right there. In my mind they (Jacobs) are the No. 1 seed. Maybe others were looking at the total season, with us beating Huntley. I don't know. I'm surprised."
Elsewhere in the Elgin sectional, Larkin was named the No. 1 seed at the St. Charles North regional, which was a foregone conclusion. The Royals are followed by the host North Stars, St. Charles East, South Elgin, Elgin and Streamwood. The bracket presents the possibility of semifinals between rivals Elgin and Larkin and the St. Charles schools.
At Belvidere, Huntley (16-7) is the top seed, followed by Rockford Jefferson, Rockford East, DeKalb and Belvidere North.
"I'm happy we got the No. 1 seed. I think we deserve it," Huntley coach Marty Manning said. "Though, I'm not sure how huge a role (seeding) will play because one through four are all pretty even. We all have our weaknesses."
Host Rockford Boylan is the top seed at its own regional, followed by Auburn, Hononegah, Guilford and Harlem.
Top seeds elsewhere in 4A: The winner of the Elgin sectional will face the winner of the loaded Lake Zurich sectional in the NIU supersectional for a berth in Peoria.
The top eight seeds at Lake Zurich are Stevenson, Fremd, Lake Forest, Zion-Benton, St. Viator, Highland Park, Lake Zurich and Deerfield.
York is the No. 1 seed in the Bartlett sectional, followed by Proviso East, Oak-Park River Forest, Morton, Conant and Glenbard North.
Benet Academy garnered the top seed at the East Aurora sectional, followed by West Aurora, Bolingbrook, Hinsdale Central, Naperville Central, Geneva, Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley.
Getting looks: Larkin guard Kendale McCullum received two more college offers recently, he said. McCullum is being courted by Division II schools Wisconsin-Parkside, Northern Michigan, Grand Valley State, Winona State and Missouri-St. Louis.
A 6-foot-1 senior, McCullum averages 14.7 points and an area-best 6.5 assists per game for the outright Upstate Eight River champion Royals (23-3).
Class 3A Hampshire sectional seeds: Hampshire avoided a play-in game when it was named the No. 2 seed at the Woodstock regional Thursday. Marengo received the top seed. Marian Central is No. 3, followed by Woodstock, Woodstock North and Harvard.
Burlington Central was named the No. 3 seed at the five-team Genoa-Kingston regional. Sycamore is No. 1 and Wheaton Academy No. 2.
Title shot: Through the highs and lows of a long season that began in Quincy in November, Jacobs finds itself playing meaningful games down the stretch.
The Golden Eagles (13-12, 7-3) are a game behind three-time defending champion Huntley (16-7, 8-2) in the Valley Division of the Fox Valley Conference with 2 to play. Jacobs squares off with Huntley in Algonquin at 7 p.m. Friday and completes its FVC Valley schedule Tuesday at Dundee-Crown.
"Our goals since we looked at the schedule and talked back in the fall was to make these games matter, specifically the Huntley game," first-year Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "We've had some ups and downs and some disappointments, but somehow we managed to keep ourselves in a situation where it's a 2-game tournament."
Huntley prevailed 48-45 against Jacobs on Jan. 24. Senior Zach Gorney scored 16 points and senior Riley Wicks scored the go-ahead basket on a late drive to propel the Red Raiders, who believe the margin of victory should have been wider, though.
"I thought we left some points on the board the first time we played them," Huntley coach Marty Manning said. "We have got to be a little more efficient offensively. When Jacobs made a run at us in the third quarter of that game, we took a bunch of shots off one pass. That's not a good way to attack. We have to be more patient on offense.
"Defensively, we need to find a way to limit Chrishawn Orange's penetration."
Orange leads Jacobs in scoring (15.6 ppg), while averaging 3.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals. The junior guard gets support offensively from senior guard Ben Murray (9 ppg) and junior guard Kenton Mack (7.2 ppg). Freshman Cameron Krutwig leads the Golden Eagles with 5.6 rebounds per game.
Huntley, which can clinch the outright FVC Valley title with a victory, counters with 6-foot-8 senior Amanze Egekeze, who leads his team in scoring (18.3), rebounds (7.8), blocks (60) and deflections (54). Gorney averages 11.3 points and Wicks scores 7.2 ppg.