Joliet Central Super-Sectional
Morgan Park (26-3) vs. Lincoln-Way West (20-9)
Fast fact: Morgan Park is looking for its fourth straight trip to Peoria and its third state championship in four years, while Lincoln-Way West is fresh off its first sectional title in the young program’s history.
Player to watch: The Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year, Memphis recruit Charlie Moore, is the top senior in the state and a monster offensive weapon in Morgan Park’s free, up-tempo style.
What to watch: Playing in a super-sectional is second nature to Morgan Park; it’s all business for a Mustangs team with difference-making speed and quickness defensively and in transition. Lincoln-Way West is playing on this stage for the first time. The Warriors, led by junior Marco Pettinato and 6-6 senior Jon Marotta, must find a way to settle in early and avoid a quick, patented Morgan Park barrage.
Peoria Manual (25-4) vs. Rockford Boylan (31-2)
Fast fact: Peoria Manual is on the cusp of qualifying for the state finals for the 22nd time in school history. The Rams have finished among the top four teams in their class 14 times, winning four state championships.
Player to watch: Da’Monte Williams of Peoria Manual, a dynamic 6-3 guard who has committed to Illinois, is regarded as one of the top 75 players in the country.
What to watch: While Manual has a star in Williams and two other Division I prospects in juniors A.J. Youngman and Romon Douglas-Watkins, Boylan beat did Manual 76-64 in January. Boylan, which has tied the school record for most wins, has depth, a rising junior in 6-4 Zach Couper, and offensive versatility in that it can beat you inside or with the three.
Hoffman Estates Super-Sectional
St. Joseph (24-8) vs. Ridgewood (18-12)
Fast fact: St. Joseph is the defending Class 3A state champs and its coach, the legendary Gene Pingatore –– the winningest coach in state history –– now has 988 victories in 47 years.
Player to watch: The best uncommitted senior in the state, St. Joseph’s 6-11 Nick Rakocevic, has put together a dominating season, averaging 20 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks a game.
What to watch: After playing the role of underdog in sectional wins over North Lawndale and Fenwick, St. Joseph finds itself in a new position on Super Tuesday: a big favorite. Rakocevic’s talent and size inside poses a huge problem for a small Ridgewood team. How far can Ridgewood ride the emotional high of winning its first-ever sectional title on a half court shot at the buzzer in its home gym?
Springfield Southeast (24-6) vs. Belleville Althoff (29-2)
Fast fact: Belleville Althoff, the top-ranked team in Class 3A, has as many as five Division I prospects in seniors Tarkus Ferguson (UIC) and Brendon Gooch (SIU) and juniors Jordan Goodwin, Marvin Bateman and C.J. Coldon.
Player to watch: There isn’t a junior in Illinois who’s been as productive in their first three seasons as Belleville Althoff’s Jordan Goodwin. He wowed fans last year in Peoria in helping Althoff to a state runner-up finish. He’s even better this year.
What to watch: The seasoned, experienced and talent-laden Althoff team with multiple Division I players is arguably the state’s best team, regardless of class. After beating rival Lanphier for the third time and winning its first sectional title in 36 years, Southeast will try to play the role or spoiler in its back yard behind guards D’Angelo Hughes and Trevyon Williams.