Class 4A Elgin sectional
Matchups: Tuesday -- Rockford Auburn (26-5) vs. Huntley (21-7), 7 p.m.; Wednesday -- South Elgin (17-14) vs. Jacobs (18-13), 7 p.m.; Friday -- Sectional championship, 7 p.m.
How they got here: No. 2 Auburn defeated No. 3 Hononegah 61-45 and No. 1 Rockford Boylan 73-56 to win the Rockford Boylan regional.; No. 1 Huntley defeated No. 4 DeKalb 58-49 and No. 2 Rockford Jefferson 77-29 to win the Belvidere North regional.; No. 4 South Elgin defeated No. 5 Elgin 74-55, No. 1 Larkin 71-70 (OT) and No. 3 St. Charles East 76-62 to win the St. Charles North regional.; No. 3 Jacobs defeated No. 6 Crystal Lake Central 46-25, No. 2 Prairie Ridge 55-46 and No. 5 Dundee-Crown 43-33 to win the Crystal Lake Central regional.
Auburn vs. Huntley: Styles clash in Tuesday's semifinal between pressure-oriented NIC-10 champion Auburn and defense-centric Huntley, four-time champion of the Fox Valley Conference's Valley Division. This is a rematch of a 2012 sectional semi at Dundee-Crown, which the Knights and future Wichita State star Fred Van Vleet won 62-48. Auburn is led by the guard tandem of Laytwan Porter and Antoine Pittman. Porter had 17 points and Pittman 10 in the regional title-game win over Boylan, a game in which the Knights forced 22 turnovers with their pressure defense, according to the Rockford Register-Star. That makes taking care of the ball a point of emphasis for Huntley. "The thing that gives me a little comfort is that in games when we know we have to limit turnovers and take care of the basketball, we've done that for the most part," Huntley coach Marty Manning said. "I don't think we can dictate the pace as far as making it a slowdown game because Auburn won't let you. What we can do is take care of the basketball and get as many good shots as we can opposed to rushed shots." Huntley is led by 6-foot-8 senior Amanze Egekeze. The Belmont commit is averaging 17.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. He gets to the free-throw line often (122 of 161). Other leaders for the Red Raiders include 6-4 senior forward Zach Gorney (11.6 ppg, 4 rpg) and 6-3 guard Riley Wicks (7.7 ppg). Wicks is a 33-percent 3-point shooter (27 of 81). Guard Kyle Slonka is a 45.5-percent 3-pointer shooter (31 of 68). Huntley scores 56.6 points per game, but the Red Raiders hang their hat on defense. They have limited opponents to 32.5 points per game during their 6-game winning streak, but there is still room for improvement, according to their coach. "I think that our defense has slipped," Manning said. "It does not seem like we're playing as hard or as tough on defense as we were two weeks ago. It's something the guys have to address because Auburn will take advantage of that."
South Elgin vs. Jacobs: Teams with first-year coaches and contrasting styles meet in the second semifinal. Each got hot at the right time after hanging around .500 most of the season. Jacobs has won 5 straight and 7 of 8. South Elgin has won 5 straight and 6 of 7. Jacobs has been winning with defense. The Golden Eagles limited three regional opponents to 104 total points. A repeat won't be easy against South Elgin, which scored 187 points in 3 regional wins, 63 from 3-point range. Sophomore Matt Smith scored 59 points, including 7 3-pointers. Senior guard Darius Wells sank 9 3-pointers en route to 49 points. Guarding them falls to Jacobs junior guards Chrishawn Orange (6-1) and Kenton Mack (6-2), each of whom has a size advantage over his 5-10 counterpart. "They have three good guards but Smith and Wells in particular are dynamic players and they can scoot," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "At the same time we have some kids who can go and are pretty athletic as well. It will be a good challenge. We have to take good shots. We have to go when the opportunities are there to score, but one-pass 3-pointers are not the best shot." Jacobs' offensive punch comes from Orange, who averages 15.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Jacobs senior Robert Grant (6-5) and freshman Cameron Krutwig (6-5) are aggressive rebounders who will have to contend with 6-8 South Elgin sophomore Tyler Hankins. "They are actually a pretty big team," South Elgin coach Matt Petersen said of the Golden Eagles. "They have a couple of 6-5 guys and they rebound really well. Orange is a scoring threat and looks to be a force for them. From what we've seen, they only go seven deep. Hopefully, we can find an advantage against some of their other guards. We'd like to get it going up and down. A transition game favors us and a slowdown, half-court game favors them. We'll get some open threes. If we're not hitting, we'll have to manufacture ways to get shots. We've struggled against teams that have forced us to do that."
Advancement: The winner of the Elgin sectional plays the winner of the Lake Zurich sectional in the NIU supersectional on Tuesday, March 18 at 8 p.m. The Lake Zurich sectional semifinals pit Stevenson (28-1) vs. St. Viator (23-5) on Tuesday and Fremd (27-0) vs. Highland Park (21-7) on Wednesday.