IHSA Boys Basketball Class 4A 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:
Kenwood Academy (Chicago) (27-6) vs Brother Rice (Chicago) (30-4): Kenwood survived their semifinal game, while Brother Rice got a spectacular second half performance from Niagara commit Ahmad Henderson II. Kenwood's Darrin Ames, a Kansas State commit and Henderson II matchup will be a must see matchup. Get your popcorn ready. Can Henderson II pull out another magical performance? For Brother Rice to win they'll have to get big time performances from senior Khalil Ross and junior Xzavier Fitch on the glass. Kenwood Academy goes 6'11", 6'7" 6'6", 6'6"in their front court. Kenwood will need senior Tyler Smith to be engaged to advance.
North (Downers Grove) (30-3) at Hinsdale Central (31-3): Look for a sea of red and purple all over the gym. West Suburban Silver rivals meet a third time with an Elite Eight berth at stake. They split their regular season games with each winning on the road. So the Mustangs will feel confident they can win in enemy territory again. Downers Grove North plays ten players, Hinsdale Central more like seven to eight. This will be a battle of attrition. I think whichever star junior Jack Stanton of North and Ben Oosterbaan of Hinsdale Central plays the best wins. Hinsdale Central is more senior laden team which may get them over the hump.
Benet Academy (Lisle) (32-1) vs Geneva (25-9) at Bartlett: Benet has lost only one game on the season, at Christmas to 3A Simeon Career Academy (Chicago). Has not lost in 2023. Both teams have balance scoring, but senior Johns Hopkins commit Brayden Fagbemi has to play well for Benet. Geneva has four players that average between 8 and 13 points a game. I think they need one of them to go off scoring to pull the upset.
East (St Charles) (18-16) vs Auburn (Rockford) (22-12) at Jefferson (Rockford): East is two games over 500 for the season. Two all conference performers Steven Call and Jack Borri will have to play well for St Charles East. Auburn doesn't have a lot of size, but are quick and have some shooters. senior guard Adrian Agee and junior guard Rakim Chaney will have to come up huge. Watch out for freshman Amir Danforth.
Libertyville (28-5) vs Prospect (Mount Prospect) (20-11) at Barrington: Both teams made it here on last second shots at the buzzer. Senior Aidyn Boone's three for Libertyville, sophomore Ben Schneider's three for Prospect. Will we have another buzzer beater to get to Supersectional? Libertyville is the top seed and has lost only twice in 2023. Great mix of guard play and inside play. Prospect has stepped up after an 11 loss regular season. Team with shooters all over the court.
Glenbrook North (Northbrook) (28-4) at New Trier (Winnetka) (30-4): Central Suburban South division foes. Split their regular season meetings winning at home. New Trier has home court in this one and that could be the difference. Both teams made game winning layups to advance to this round. Both shots were made by players who are going to college in different sports. Junior Northwestern football commit Patrick Schaller for Glenbrook North, and senior University of Chicago soccer commit Evan Kanellos. Schaller with 4 seconds left, Kanellos at the buzzer. Spartans have reset without junior point guard Josh Fridman. They've just run their system efficiently. Senior Washington University of St Louis commit Ryan Cohen has stepped to the head of the table. Senior Jake Fiegen, a Cornell commit, has stepped his game up another notch in the playoffs.
West (Joliet) (28-5) vs East (Oswego) (28-5) at Bolingbrook: Joliet West has breezed through the playoffs so far as the Fears brothers (McDonald's All-American Jeremiah (Michigan State commit) sophomore Jeremiah) haveby been playing well. Oswego East knocked out the host which was huge. Can they have enough energy to get by this game? Oswego East beat Joliet West by 13 on the road so they will have the confidence. Towson commit senior Mekhi Lowery is a double/double machine and will need one to advance. Point guard Bryce Shoot will have to be huge protecting the basketball and staying out of foul trouble.
O'Fallon (25-7) at Moline (31-3): I'll admit do not know much about O'Fallon but Moline has the most unstoppable player left in the state tournament. That would be Iowa commit Owen Freeman who's a matchup nightmare on the interior. Add Iowa point guard commit Brock Harding and it may be tough sledding for O'Fallon out of the St Louis Metro Area. Moline has only one loss in 2023, a one point loss to 3A Simeon Career Academy (Chicago).
Picture art courtesy of River Valley Sports on Twitter.