DuPage County: Scouting Class 3A boys basketball sectionals
Class 3A Hinsdale South sectional
Top four seeds: Bogan, Hinsdale South, Benet, Riverside-Brookfield.
Regional hosts: St. Laurence, Kenwood, Benet, Riverside-Brookfield.
Players to watch: Andre Bennett, Mt. Carmel; Antoine Bloxton, Bogan; Colin Crothers, Benet; Billy Durkin, Hinsdale South; Darrion Jones, Bogan; Brandon Malone, Glenbard South; Abnar Muhammad, DeLaSalle; Jack Prock, Benet; James Ruzicka, Hinsdale South; Aryton Temcio, Glenbard South; Aaron Tims, Hinsdale South; Darius Wilson, St. Laurence; Paul Zilinskas, Riverside-Brookfield.
Outlook: Two of DuPage County's top teams -- Hinsdale South (28-3) and Benet (21-9) -- dropped from Class 4A to 3A, but that didn't create an advantage. Not with top-seeded Bogan (25-3) standing in the way. Benet, a 20-game winner for an 11th straight season, should get past DeLaSalle in the regional, but the path isn't as easy for Hinsdale South. The Hornets face either Hyde Park or Kenwood, teams that competed in the Red-South/Central with Bogan, Curie, Simeon and Morgan Park. As much fun as a Hinsdale South-Benet sectional semifinal would be, it's not a slam dunk. The Hornets suffered a big loss Wednesday when guard Daeshawn Amy went down with an ankle injury. With Billy and Bobby Durkin, 6-foot-8 Tims and gritty James Ruzicka, Hinsdale South still has enough talent to advance. Benet faced one of the state's top schedules, and now's the time for it to pay dividends. Six-seven Colin Crothers, averaging 14.5 points and 8.2 rebounds, has been consistent while a new group matured around him. With Prock, Matt Reid, Sam Hennessy and Tyler Van Eekeren on the perimeter, the Redwings are ready for this challenge.
Class 3A Grayslake North sectional
Top four seeds: Notre Dame, St. Patrick, St. Viator, Carmel.
Regional hosts: St. Patrick, Deerfield, Fenton, North Chicago.
Players to watch: Jack Barszcz, Vernon Hills; Troy D'Amico, Notre Dame; John Duszynski, Ridgewood; Dominic Galati, St. Patrick; Grant Hardy, Grayslake Central; Diamon King, Fenton; Connor Kochera, St. Viator; Kobe Kriese, Antioch; Louis Lesmond, Notre Dame; Brandon Lieb, Deerfield; Andre Reed, Fenton; Anthony Sayles, Notre Dame; Kimahri Wilson, Carmel.
Outlook: East Suburban Catholic Conference teams own the top four seeds. Notre Dame (26-5) is No. 1 in Class 3A and just gave Curie, No. 1 in Class 4A, all it could handle. The dynamic ESCC co-champ (with Marian Catholic) is a clear-cut No. 1 after beating each of the Nos. 2-4 seeds by no fewer than 9 points. It is a top-heavy sectional considering No. 8 Ridgewood comes in 14-14 -- though the Rebels won a sectional as recently as 2016. Still, Fenton coach Chaz Taft was hardly taking athletic No. 11 Mather lightly before Wednesday's regional semifinal. If successful the No. 6 Bison (20-11) will match the 21 wins of their 1975-76 team, and seek a third regional title (1976, 2011) against probable advancer St. Viator and William & Mary-bound Kochera. Fenton's unique shooting backgrounds can be an advantage.
Class 3A Rockford Boylan sectional
Top four seeds (by subsectional): Burlington Central, Hampshire; Rockford Boylan, Wauconda.
Regional hosts (by subsectional): Burlington Central, Plano; Belvidere North, Woodstock North.
Players to watch: Rex Avery, Sandwich; Anthony Brown, Rockford Boylan; Cole Brey, Woodstock North; Nick Bulgarelli, Wauconda; Donovan Carter, Wauconda; Johnny Close, Rockford Boylan; Anthony Espensen, Belvidere North; Griffin Cross, Plano; Brett David, Kaneland; Josh Hudgens, Burlington Central; Jake Lenschow, Burlington Central; Grant McConkey, Sycamore; Robert Nocek, St. Francis; Bryce Walker, St. Francis; Collin Woods, Hampshire.
Outlook: St. Francis -- a No. 5 seed playing at Burlington Central -- sits on its own island away from usual 3A pals like Aurora Central Catholic, Montini and Wheaton Academy, who dropped to 2A. But there remains Burlington Central with another 20-win season. For the Spartans to win their second regional in two seasons they must beat both No. 3 Sycamore and Burlington Central. St. Francis' strength of schedule is a plus, but Burlington Central and Hampshire can say the same thing. No. 4 seed Plano has had a landmark season as have Wauconda and Woodstock North in the other subsectional. But Rockford Boylan emerged from the NIC-10 grinder to go 24-7 overall, 16-2 in league play. Boylan beat Burlington Central 57-55 in a 2018 sectional final. That could be repeated.
-- Dave Oberhelman and Kevin Schmit