Girls basketball sectional previews

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Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum describes Bolingbrook as “the elephant in the room.”

That’s what they used to say about his Redhawks during the Candace Parker era. Parker and the Redhawks dominated the Oswego sectional field on their way to two state titles in the early 2000s, the second coming in 2004 when Central and Parker outlasted Deirdre Naughton and New Trier.

Since then, the sectional has been the personal playground of the Raiders, who have won eight consecutive sectional titles.

“Romeoville is pretty good, and so is Neuqua Valley,” Nussbaum said after his Redhawks punched their ticket to the Class 4A sectional at Oswego with a come-from-behind 44-42 victory over Benet. “We’re going to be happy about this for at least 24 hours.”

Then Nussbaum and the rest of the field will start thinking about the “elephant.”

Bolingbrook (22-5) crushed Yorkville 72-18 to earn a berth opposite Romeoville (27-3) Tuesday at Oswego. In the other semifinal, Neuqua Valley (26-3) and Naperville Central (25-6) will meet for the second time this season.

“We’re excited,” Naperville Central’s Jamie Cuny said. “It’s going to be a great game. We have to go in mentally tough, physically tough. “They haven’t lost many games. I think it’s going to be a great matchup.”

At Trinity

This isn’t the field anybody expected. Young (25-4) is the only surviving top-eight seed in a sectional field that includes No. 11 seed Oak Park-River Forest (13-17), No. 12 St. Ignatius (16-15) and No. 15 Proviso East (16-13).

But Oak Park is making no apologies.

“Our record stinks, but our RPI is pretty good,” Oak Park coach J.P. Coughlin said. “We play everybody. We’ve been trailing all year, playing with everybody. The confidence everybody has is unbelievable for a 13-17 team. They believe they can beat anybody.”

The Huskies will try to make believers out of defending state champion Young Monday at 7:30 p.m. The other sectional semifinal is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

At Loyola

Two upstarts, New Trier (16-14) and Resurrection (20-11), will try to prevent an anticipated showdown between Evanston (25-3) and Maine South (25-5) in Thursday’s finale. Evanston, which defeated Maine East 60-30 behind Sierra Clayborn’s 20 points, won its first regional since 2000.

At Mother McAuley

Bloom (21-6), which won its first regional since 1999, drew Marian Catholic (28-1) in its sectional opener. But most eyes will be on Mother McAuley (22-6) and Marist (23-9) in the other semifinal as the two south side schools renew their bitter rivalry, this time on the basketball court.

At Libertyville

What happened to the team that beat Marian Catholic at Christmas? Rolling Meadows (26-3) struggled to get past Hersey in its regional final. Meanwhile, Mid-Suburban champion Fremd (25-7) faces North Suburban runner-up Zion-Benton (19-7) in the other semifinal.

At Rockford East

Streamwood (21-8) is making its first sectional appearance since 1988 after holding South Elgin to two points in the first quarter of its regional title game. The Sabres take on Cary-Grove (23-6), winner of 14 straight, in one semifinal, while Huntley (23-6) plays Harlem in the other.

At Bartlett

WW South (27-3) has overcome season-ending injuries to Sierra Bisso and Maggie Dansdill to advance to the sectional semifinals against Geneva (19-10). In the other semifinal, surprising Schaumburg (16-14) meets DuPage Valley runner-up Wheaton North (22-7).

At Peotone

Two vertically-challenged teams, Morgan Park (22-5) and Rich South (23-5), meet for the opportunity to face Joliet Catholic (24-4) for the Class 3A sectional title, provided the Angels don’t slip up against Bishop McNamara in their semifinal.

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