Class 3A Woodstock North sectional
Top four seeds: Burlington Central, Rockford Boylan, Wheaton Academy, Johnsburg.
Regional hosts: Aurora Central Catholic, Belvidere, Marengo, St. Francis.
Players to watch: Ben Ambrose, Rockford Boylan; Blaine Borhard, Marengo; Kyle Czerak, Aurora Central Catholic; Mikey Gardner, Woodstock; J.D. Gunn, Wheaton Academy; Andrew Harvey, St. Francis; Jeff Jankowski, Richmond-Burton; Phil Kolk, Belvidere; Patrick Mayfield, Burlington Central; Collin Mergl, Woodstock North; Zach Schutta, Burlington Central; Kenneth Strawbridge, Rockford Lutheran; Mick Sullivan, Marmion; Anthony Thompson, Montini; Zach Toussaint, Johnsburg; Brandon Whiteside, Glenbard South; Jayston Williams, Wheaton Academy; Jack Zuba, Rockford Boylan.
Outlook: One cannot bank on No. 1 subsectional seeds Burlington Central (25-3) and Rockford Boylan (18-10) playing for the sectional title March 9. Last season sub-.500 Glenbard South beat 26-game winner Burlington Central for a regional title. At Aurora Central No. 4 seed Montini (16-10) may pose a problem for the lengthy, deep Rockets and Schutta, the program's all-time leading scorer. The Chicago Catholic League-tested Broncos' losses included ones to Benet, Leo, DePaul, De La Salle and Carmel. The top seed at Marengo, No. 2 Johnsburg (17-12) trailed only Burlington Central in the Kishwaukee River Conference and brings sophomore guard Toussaint, who has a 52-point game to his credit. Johnsburg still may be pushed by No. 6 seed Marian Central (9-19), winless in the top-flight East Suburban Catholic Conference. One clear favorite is at the Belvidere regional: Boylan tied for the NIC-10 title with Rockford Jefferson and split its series with Jefferson. The Belvidere winner will play the survivor of the St. Francis regional, a real dogfight. On a six-game winning streak after beating Riverside-Brookfield on a late Gunn 3 to tie for the Metro Suburban Blue title, No. 2 Wheaton Academy (19-6) hasn't won this many games since 2014. Yet it's not a given the Warriors skate to Friday's St. Francis regional final; No. 8 Nazareth (8-17) and No. 9 Marmion (9-18) play in the rugged ESCC and CCL, respectively. Also out of the CCL, No. 3 St. Francis (13-15) comes off a win over Brother Rice, has beaten Wheaton Academy (and Montini) on a schedule laden with 4A foes -- and the Spartans are at home. They open against guard Brandon Whiteside and No. 5 seed Glenbard South (11-15). The Raiders have played 14 Class 4A teams and have won two straight regional titles, both times entering the playoffs with losing records. At St. Francis in particular, it's anyone's game.
They said it: "I've done this long enough, when you get to this time of year you never know how kids are going to respond. Kids step up, kids rise to the occasion. I think it's a lot of fun," said St. Francis coach Erin Dwyer.