Best of the big nights

By Joe Henricksen

Anyone heading out to the Neuqua Valley Sectional next week will have a chance to watch a Glenbard East team that has cruised to a 26-1 record, winning 19 straight games and a top five ranking in the Chicago area, while also getting a glimpse of three players in the western suburbs who have put their respective teams on their back. East Aurora’s Ryan Boatright, Benet Academy’s David Sobolewski and Oswego East’s Jay Harris are a talented trio that will join Glenbard East in Naperville next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Perhaps the biggest and best individual performance of all during Friday night regional championship action was turned in by East Aurora’s Ryan Boatright. The Hoops Report took that one in and, once again, came away so impressed with the overall display of pure explosiveness, speed and quickness of the 5-11 point guard. Boatright is a truly special talent.

After scoring 40 points in the regional opener earlier in the week, Boatright exploded for 45 points in an upset win over Neuqua Valley to claim the Plainfield East Regional. The monster performance included a take-over-the-game 21 points in the fourth quarter. Neuqua Valley’s Rahjan Muhammad drained a 28-footer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, where Boatright went on to end it. Boatright and the Tomcats will now face red-hot Benet Academy in the sectional semis.

From a pure athletic and skill standpoint, there may not be a player, pound for pound, this side of Wayne Blackshear in the junior class, who has more than Boatright. Ironically, the Hoops Report watched the two square off in a December matchup. While Boatright did score 22 points (Blackshear had 43 points and 17 rebounds) in the loss to Morgan Park, it was not one of his better performances. But Friday night he was virtually unguardable.

He’s an absolute blur up and down the floor and is impossible to stay in front of. He can get wild and a little out of control and force some things at times, but he’s dazzling with the ball, has a great feel and vision and big-time scoring ability. He can get to the basket at will, especially in transition where he simply beats people down the floor with the ball and finishes up at the rim with his athleticism. He’s still a bit streaky with his shot, but he’s a better-than-average shooter whose perimeter jumper will only get better. He has shown an ability to get on a run and knock down shots in bunches. He’s a fun, exciting player to watch.

Boat vs. Sobo

Another junior guard in the western suburbs, David Sobolewski of Benet Academy, also put on a dazzling offensive display Friday night. The heady point guard did all he could possibly do in helping lead the Redwings to their first regional title since 2005.

The 6-0 guard didn’t score a point in the first quarter of action against Downers Grove South, but he went on a scoring binge in the final three quarters by pumping in a game-high 41 points. Sobolewski, who scored 41 of his team’s 63 points and his team’s final 10 points of the game, knocked down seven 3-pointers and was 12-of-13 from the line. Benet Academy and Sobolewski will square off with Boatright Wednesday night in what will be a battle between two different styles and two outstanding junior guards.

And Jay Harris does it again

The superlatives thrown towards Jay Harris of Oswego East have been endless over the past couple of months, but he poured in 39 more points in an overtime win Friday night against West Aurora. Oswego East will face Glenbard East in a sectional semifinal Tuesday night.

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