Low expectations have turned into high-reward seasons for the Barrington and Prospect boys basketball teams this year.
Both teams entered this season with many question marks. And both now have submitted resounding answers by winning their respective divisions to advance to Wednesday's 7:30 p.m. Mid-Suburban Leauge championship game at Barrington.
"We did not know what direction we would go, especially at the beginning of the year," said Prospect coach John Camardella, who had graduated four starters from the previous season. "We knew we had some pieces. It was just finding the right spots and really focusing on getting as much experience as quickly as possible.
Things began rockily for the Knights, with losses to Evanston and St. Viator. But the Knights righted the ship quickly and then rattled off 10 wins in a row on their way to a perfect 10-0 in the MSL East to win their ninth title in the last 11 years,
Some of that was from the steady hand of guard David Swedura, the lone returning starter. Swedura, who a three-year starter and just 9 points shy of the 1,000-point mark, helped stabilize the Knights and give them time to grow as a team.
"David is selfless and intentionally inclusive," Camardella said. "He just goes out of his way to make other players better. He does so many things to help us win with scoring, assists, spreading the floor and on defense."
Prospect (20-5), which is making its third consecutive appearance in the MSL title game, has won 9 of its last 10 games. There have been many evenings that the Knights have had multiple players in double figures -- most commonly Tim Lussenhop, Jon Kreidler and Jalen McLachlan joining Swedura. Sam Murray, TJ Johannesen, Johnny Czeslawski have also come up big off the bench for the Knights.
Barrington (21-5) was overlooked by most in preseason conversation, but the Broncos eventually found themselves battling Conant, Fremd and Palatine for the conference title.
While the MSL West was as wild, Barrington emerged tied for the conference title with Palatine and won the tiebreaker with the Pirates. Barrington, which will be hosting its first-ever title game, is making its first trip back to the finals since 2015.
"We are excited to be back in this game," Barrington coach Bryan Tucker said. "We have had a nice mix, inside and out. We will have to see what we get."
The Broncos, who have won their last 9 games and 11 of their last 12, have received strong play from three-year starter Anthony Spann, who has been a solid playmaker and scorer all season. Barrington also has size up front with 6-foot-8 Jack Reinhard, 6-4 Jake Parsons and 6-5 Mark Johnson. Add in the outside shooting of guard Jason Boock , along with Jutsin Alperin and Will Raider, and the Broncos have been tough all season.
"We are not going to take anything away from our kids," Tucker said. "They are excited to be in the game. It will be fun that it is here. We have to be ready to go."