IHSA Boys Basketball Class 3A Sectional Final Preview!!! Top matchups and top stories!!!!!
Tomorrow is the Sectional Finals all over the state in each class. Sweet 16 as that's all the teams that are left in each class. Americas Original March Madness. So far it has had drama, made buzzer beaters, and missed buzzer beaters. There are some interesting angles, Chicago Catholic League vs Chicago Public League. Rematches of conference and division foes. A few teams will be singing the Elton John song "I'm still standing". Look it up, it's a great song for the occasion. Here we go in bracket order:
Lemont (28-6) at Hillcrest (Country Club Hills) (28-3): Very few people have showed down the senior Castillo twins (Rokas and Matas). Wisconsin Parkside commits these guards are tough minded and too skilled for most to slow down. Hillcrest has the size, quickness, and length to give them problems. They did not play in the first meeting which Hillcrest won. Hillcrest won the first meeting last season too, then lost to Lemont in the playoffs. Will history repeat itself? Hillcrest has the home advantage and they have Akron commit Darrion Baker. Baker was in foul trouble in the semifinals, but expect a big game from him this time. He could tilt the difference the Hawks way.
Simeon Career Academy (Chicago) (29-3) vs Mount Carmel (Chicago) (27-6): Chicago Public League vs Chicago Catholic League. Southside schools who will be ready to bring it. Will this be Coach Robert Smith's last game? Not if his players can help it. Senior point guard and recent Jacksonville commit Jalen Griffith will have to control the game. He will have a challenge with senior point guard Denver commit DeAndre Craig who has just as much speed and quickness. Can Mount Carmel counteract the size of the Rubin twins Miles, a Loyola Chicago commit, and Wes, Northern Iowa commit? This will be the story as Mount Carmel has no one taller than 6'6".
St Ignatius College Prep (Chicago) (22-11) vs Fenwick (Oak Park) (21-12) at DeLaSalle Institute (Chicago): Experience vs youth. Chicago Catholic League rivals St Ignatius won the first matchup at home. St Ignatius though had a shaky finish to the regular season and have put it together in the playoffs. They are looking for a return trip to Champaign and are two games away. Veterans Richard Barron III, a George Mason commit and Jackson Kotecki, Miami Ohio commit are seniors and have been there. Fenwick has 8 sophomores and juniors that dot the roster. They have balanced scoring and avenged a regular season loss to the host in the semifinals. Junior Darshan Thomas, and sophomores DJ Porter and Ty Macariola will be key in this game.
Lake Forest (23-10) at Central (Grayslake) (28-5): Lake Forest gave Grayslake a beatdown on MLK Day at their place. A 21 piece extra spicy to put something in their heads. This game though Grayslake Central has the home advantage, and revenge on their minds. Lake Forest is looking to get back to the Supersectional for a second year in a row. They have senior Clemson commit Asa Thomas who can knock down threes and hit the glass. Junior Tommie Aberle is a triple double threat. Grayslake Central has a very good point guard in senior Dennis Estepp who can hit threes and get his teammates involved. College of Lake County commit senior Jake Gibson will have to be huge in the paint. Senior guard Sam Cooper can get hot from three and break this game open.
Marmion Academy (Aurora) (22-11) at Burlington Central (Hampshire) (29-5): Marmion is playing with house money. Won their first regional in 47 years. Then had senior point guard Collin Wainscott call game from three in the semifinals. The talent is there to make more history with senior Lewis commit Jabe Haith, and rim protector senior Trevor Roots in the paint. Tough Catholic League schedule has them ready for anything. Burlington Central has a great all around talent in senior Belmont commit Drew Scharnowksi. They play ten players in a deep rotation, but senior Nicholas Gourioris will have to play huge on both ends of the court.
Metamora (30-2) vs Richwoods (Peoria) (23-5): Metamora is on a mission. They lost the title game in double overtime last season. They want to get back and finish the job this time. Have not lost in 2023 and have won 28 straight games. South Alabama commit Ethan Kizer has had an outstanding senior season. He is helped by senior Tyson Swanson who can jump out of the gym. Richwoods has senior point guard Marquel Newsome and senior forward Sabri Qattum.
East St Louis (23-8) vs Troy Triad (28-6) at Centralia: East St Louis Flyers are on a mission. They got to the Supersectional last season and was hammered by Sacred Heart Griffin (Springfield). They want to redeem themselves this time and have the horses to possibly do it. Kansas State senior commit Macaleab Rich, who can absolutely fly out of the gym. He has help from Cal Poly senior commit Antwan Robinson. Could not find anything on Troy Triad.
Sacred Heart Griffin (Springfield) (30-3) at MacArthur (Decatur) (28-4): Conference rivals and a tough assignment for defending state champ Sacred Heart Griffin. They have beaten their conference foe twice this season. They say it is hard to beat a good team three times in a season. Decatur MacArthur is a good team so this will be interesting. Quincy commit senior Jake Hamilton will have to score all over the court once again for Sacred Heart Griffin. His senior teammate Zack Hawkinson will have to dominate with a double/double to advance. Keys for Decatur MacArthur will be senior big man Makhi Wright, senior guards Azarion Richardson, and Chase Cunningham.
Picture art courtesy of River Valley Sports on Twitter.