Some intriguing matchups for Northwest suburbs' teams as postseason unfolds
The stars will be out beginning Monday when the IHSA boys basketball Class 3A and 4A tournaments begin at regional sites in the Northwest suburbs.
It has been a better than average year for talent in the area, with a number of players either signing, verbally committing or being actively pursued by the nation's top Division-I programs.
Class 3A Grayslake North sectional: The top four seeds are all from the East Suburban Catholic Conference and are very familiar with each other. St. Viator is the No. 3 seed and the Lions (20-8) are looking to advance to the sectional for the third consecutive year.
Viator is led by Connor Kochera, who has signed to play at William & Mary next season. Kochera, who is averaging over 20 points per game, is one of the state's best 3-point shooters.
At the sectional, Viator could meet a pair of teams it lost to this season. St. Patrick, the two-seed, is led by legendary coach Mike Bailey. Awaiting the winners, is the top-ranked team in Class 3A in Notre Dame. The Dons feature a trio of D-I recruits in Anthony Sayles, Troy D'Amico and Louis Lesmond.
Class 4A Elk Grove sectional: The sectional will actually be played at Robert Morris University in Arlington Heights, one of the Northwest suburbs' best venues for high school basketball.
Mid-Suburban League champion Schaumburg will host one of the four regionals.
The Saxons received a fifth seed behind Loyola, Glenbrook South, Evanston and Niles North. Schaumburg drew a tough Taft team in the opening round and could face Niles North in the regional final.
That game would feature a pair of Big 10 commits -- Chris Hodges of Schaumburg, who has verbally committed to Wisconsin, and Aquan Smart from Niles North, who recently committed to Maryland.
Also in the top half of the bracket is Elk Grove, which has a play-in game with Von Steuben, with the winner playing Loyola. Maine South gets Schurz in the Hawks' first game. A win there could set in place a huge rivalry game between Maine South and Loyola in the regional final.
In the bottom bracket, a very entertaining regional final could take place should seeds hold.
If Glenbrook South, which is seeded second and features one of the Chicago area's top scorers in Dom Martinelli, gets by 15th seed Conant in the first round, the Titans could face Rolling Meadows, which is seeded seventh and showcases the highly-recruited Max Christie. The Mustangs could be waiting if they can get by regional host Maine West, which is seeded 10th.
Hoffman Estates and Maine East will have a play-in game for the opportunity to meet Evanston in the second round. New Trier and Glenbrook North, with retiring head coach Dave Weber, will meet for the third time this season.
Class 4A Prospect sectional: The IHSA raised a few eyebrows when the matchups were announced for this sectional.
Hersey received a 14 seed while Wheeling was awarded the 15th seed. Yet it was Hersey that was made to participate in a play-in game against host Grant on Monday.
The Huskies have been playing well as of late with wins in four of their last five games including victories over Rolling Meadows and Palatine. With a win over host Grant, they will meet No. 3 seeded Buffalo Grove on Tuesday.
The Bison, led by super sophomore Kam Craft, are fresh off their Mid-Suburban East title and have beaten Hersey twice this season. Buffalo Groves loves to run and the Bison are averaging 67 points per game.
The winner of Tuesday's game will play the winner of Wednesday's Barrington-Prospect matchup for the regional title. That game should be a chess-like matchup between a pair of teams that can get physical when needed.
Wheeling may have missed out on a play-in game but the Wildcats' reward will be to play second-seeded Mundelein in the Fremd regional. The Mustangs feature Connor Enright, who has committed to Drake, and Scottie Ebube, who has also received some D-I interest.
The winner of that game will play against the winner of the most fascinating matchup in the first round -- Fremd vs. crosstown rival Palatine. All bets will be off when those two rivals collide in what should be a loud and raucous atmosphere.
The Pirates have swept Fremd in the regular season for the first time in 18 years. Julian Campbell, Palatine's huge inside threat, figures to get lots of attention from the Vikings. The game should come down to which team can convert from the outside.
The top half of the bracket has all Lake County teams. It also has the sectional's top seed in North Suburban Conference champion Stevenson. The Patriots also have the benefit of hosting their own regional.
Libertyville picked up the fourth seed. The Wildcats will have to play Warren in their first round game, a team that Libertyville has beaten on two previous occasions.