DuPage County: Scouting Class 4A boys basketball sectionals
Class 4A Lockport sectional
Top four seeds: Joliet West, Bolingbrook, Waubonsie Valley, Plainfield North.
Regional hosts: Oswego East, Romeoville, West Aurora, Lincoln-Way West.
Players to watch: Kelvin Balfour, West Aurora; Cooper Bridges, Plainfield North; Darius Burford, Bolingbrook; Sean Curran, Lincoln-Way Central; Connor Davis, Neuqua Valley; Matas Deksnys, Lockport; Kai Evans, Bolingbrook; Jeremy Fears Jr., Joliet West; Jamere Hill, Joliet West; Tavari Johnson, Plainfield Central; Jack Kahoun, Oswego; Jacques Kelly, East Aurora; Jaiden Lee, Joliet West; Colin O'Rourke, Plainfield North; John Poulakidas, Neuqua Valley; Sam Schultz, Oswego East; Ben Schwieger, Waubonsie Valley; Marcus Skeete, Waubonsie Valley; Destin Whitaker, Romeoville; Will Wolfe, Oswego East.
Outlook: Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley head south as usual. They join a sectional with parity in the middle and what one coach called a clear top three of 26-4 Southwest Prairie East winner Joliet West, defending sectional champion and Jack Tosh winner Bolingbrook, and Waubonsie Valley, seeking its first sectional title since 1991. At 27-4 the Warriors could tie the program wins record Tuesday by beating the host at the West Aurora regional. DuPage Valley Conference MVP Skeete and a fundamentally sound cast have gone 5-1 since 6-foot-5 wing Schwieger went out injured; the dunkmaster's status remains day to day. Waubonsie also is 5-1 against sectional foes including Neuqua Valley, which is 7-4 against them including a 92-89, two-overtime win over Bolingbrook behind Poulakidas' program-record 49 points. If Neuqua tops Lockport at Lincoln-Way West it sets up a possible regional final against Plainfield North, which beat the Wildcats 72-61 in overtime and fields Blake Ellinghaus, son of Neuqua football coach Bill Ellinghaus. Familiarity between Southwest Prairie teams and recent results such as No. 7 seed Oswego East over Plainfield North, Bolingbrook over Joliet West and No. 5 Neuqua Valley over Waubonsie Valley combine to make the sectional a tough pick.
Class 4A Addison Trail sectional
Top four seeds: Lake Park, Glenbard East, Naperville Central, Wheaton Warrenville South.
Regional hosts: Lake Park, Willowbrook, Naperville Central, Geneva.
Players to watch: Parker Brown, WW South; A.J. Carlson, Addison Trail; Chris Conway, Naperville Central; Jake Dimovski, Downers Grove South; Cam Dougherty, Naperville Central; DaRon Hall, Glenbard East; Garrett Horner, Wheaton North; Ryan Isaacson, Hinsdale Central; Grant Johnson, Naperville North; Jayden Johnson, Batavia; Myles Leavy, Metea Valley; Jack Mielke, Downers Grove North; Trevor Montiel, Lake Park; Diallo Phillips, Glenbard West; Josh Preston, Geneva; Luke Sgarbossa, Lake Park; Everett Stubblefield III, Willowbrook.
Outlook: This isn't the strongest sectional but it's one of the deepest and most balanced. Lake Park (22-8), led by the combined 30 points a game by Sgarbossa and Montiel, earned the top seed but will be challenged right off the bat. The vote to seed the next three teams was very close. Hall at Glenbard East (20-9) is one of only three DuPage County players averaging more than 21 points. Naperville Central (20-10) has its own top tandem in Dougherty and 6-foot-10 Conway. WW South (19-11) might be the biggest threat to Lake Park even though the Lancers beat the Tigers twice in DuKane Conference play. The way the Tigers defend is enough to beat any team in the sectional. An interesting regional is Naperville Central. Should the Redhawks beat Bartlett, they'll have a tough test against the Wheaton North-Naperville North semifinal winner. Defending sectional champion Geneva, the sixth seed, is dangerous after sweeping Lake Park in DKC play and splitting with possible regional final opponent WW South. Can the sectional's most explosive player, Stubblefield, carry Willowbrook? Batavia, Hinsdale Central, Downers North, Glenbard West ... any number of teams could flip the sectional on its head.
Class 4A Lyons Twp. sectional
Top four seeds: Curie, Simeon, Young, York.
Regional hosts: Argo, Lane, Proviso West, Morton.
Players to watch: Isaiah Barnes, Oak Park-River Forest; Tyler Beard, Young; Ahamad Bynum, Simeon; Jeff Grace, York; Ramean Hinton, Curie; Alec Millender, St. Rita; Kendall Nichols, Morton; Grant Niego, Lyons Twp.; Manny Rodriguez, Morton; Nate Shockey, York; D.J. Steward, Young; Terrance Thomas, Proviso East; Saiveon Williams, Curie.
Outlook: Poor York. A 27-4 record would have given the Dukes a top seed and an easier road in most sectionals, but they're headed east again to face some of Chicago's top teams. If, that is, they can get past No. 5 Morton (21-7) on its home court in the regional final. Even though the Dukes have won four of five games without North Dakota-bound Shockey, averaging 21 points a game, they'll need him to come back from his bout with mono to make a run. Grace and sophomore Nick Hesch have been carrying the load, and the promotion to varsity of sophomore Drew Kircher shored up the Dukes' stingy defense. The string of potential matchups, though, is daunting. Win the regional and Curie (26-2), which just topped Notre Dame on the road, likely awaits. Then either Simeon or Young. And after all that a supersectional against Bloom or Thornton is possible. It's a brutal, brutal road. -- Dave Oberhelman and Kevin Schmit