By Joe Henricksen
Goodness. We are only a couple of days into Class 4A and 3A state tournament play and there have already been a few upsets and plenty of big scares throughout the Chicago area and around the state. Here is what transpired in the first batch of regional semifinal games Tuesday night.
• Hey, they’re still Thornton. While it may have been an uncharacteristic year in Harvey, the Wildcats, who wrapped up the regular season with a 10-15 record, pulled off Tuesday’s biggest upset. Thornton beat Shepard in the play-in game on Monday and then stunned fourth-seeded Crete-Monee and Michael Orris on Tuesday night, 39-37, to advance to Friday’s regional championship. The Wildcats are now in position to keep their regional title streak alive as it currently stands at nine straight regional championships.
• In another upset of a No. 4 sectional seed, Waukegan fell to Fremd in the regional semis. Fremd, the No. 13 seed but with 16 wins on the season, fought off rival Palatine 50-48 in the play-in game Monday night and came back Tuesday night and beat up Waukegan 71-54.
• The scare-o-meter was at full throttle at Downers Grove South Tuesday night, where Jerron Wilbut and Company, the No. 2 seed in the East Aurora Sectional, held on for a 69-68 win over Oswego East, the No. 15 seed.
• It wasn’t exactly a comfortable win for the top seed in the Lockport Sectional. Bloom did manage to pick up its 25th win and advance to Friday’s regional championship, but it did so in a narrow 41-37 win over T.F. North.
• Metea Valley, hosting its own regional after putting together a terrific 22-win regular season, held off upstart Geneva in the regional semifinals. No. 3 seed Metea Valley advanced to the regional title game with a tight 45-42 win over 14th-seeded Geneva.
• Was St. Joseph looking ahead to a regional showdown with Farragut? The Chargers needed a 30-point effort from Reggie Johnson and a terrific game from sophomore Paul Turner to avoid a shocking upset to Nazareth Academy, a team that went just 1-7 in St. Joe’s old stomping grounds — the East Suburban Catholic. St. Joseph held on for a 68-65 win.
• Mt. Carmel had opportunities in the closing seconds to pull off a stunner over Bogan, but the third-seeded Bengals held on for a 65-64 win over the 13th-seeded Caravan. Bogan will face another Chicago Catholic League team in De La Salle, who played without injured 6-8 junior Gavin Schilling Tuesday night, in the regional final.
• Fresh of an exhilarating upset of Hillcrest last week and hoping for another shot at the Hawks in the sectional semis next week, Lemont nearly had its dream season end abruptly. Lemont held off a 9-17 Corliss team and advanced to Friday’s regional title game with a 59-55 victory.
• And way down south, Collinsville has seen was too much of Belleville West in the last five days. Last Friday night, a 23-win Collinsville team was shocked by Belleville West as the Kahoks lost a conference championship. Then Belleville West comes right back Tuesday night and ends Collinsville’s season with a 61-57 upset of the top-seeded team in the regional.
So what will Wednesday night bring?