Zion Griffin’s 39-point, 17-rebound performance earlier this month in leading Hinsdale South to a big win over Willowbrook is what should worry higher-seeded teams in the Glenbard East Sectional.
In a sectional where Naperville North, Benet and Wheaton South are likely to be the top three seeds, Griffin is the one individual player in the sectional who can put a team on his shoulders and wreck a bracket. With his combination of size, length, uber-athleticism, versatility and talent, he brings a dimension no other top team in the sectional can match.
With the Iowa State-bound Griffin leading the way, Hinsdale South (18-5) has won eight of their last nine. The Hornets are on pace to capture at least a share of their second straight West Suburban Gold title.
Griffin is a matchup nightmare. He’s 6-6, an electric athlete around the rim and as a rebounder, often demoralizing teams with second-chance scoring opportunities. Griffin also has the capability to step out and bury a three-pointer, connecting on 35 from beyond the arc this season.
Griffin, who is averaging 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds a game this season, has averaged 29.6 points points in his last three games. The dominating, dynamic performances –– Griffin has had seven games of 26 or more points this season –– make Hinsdale South a scary team in March.
Bolingbrook was favored to win the league and has been ranked all season. There was some bold talk about Lincoln-Way East when the season began and after its recent upset of Bolingbrook. But it’s Homewood-Flossmoor all alone on top of the Southwest Suburban Blue.
Considering the Vikings have just one senior starter, a run at a conference title has been a little unexpected.
Coach Marc Condotti’s team is playing well leading up to a pivotal conference showdown with Bolingbrook this Friday. The Vikings were a respectable 10-6 three weeks ago but have rattled off five straight wins, including impressive victories over Hillcrest and Lincoln-Way East.
There is senior guard Sean Jones, who is averaging 14 points a game, and junior Maurion Scott, who has grown as a basketball player and fills a stat sheet. The 6-4 versatile perimeter player has size and length and is averaging 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds a game while leading the team in assists.
But the arrival of a pair of transfers who have settled in and adapted to their new surroundings is what has lifted the Vikings to another level.
Hillcrest transfer Isaac Stanback, an athletic 6-4 junior, is averaging a team-leading 15.4 points and 6.6 rebound a game. He also has over 40 blocks and 40 steals on the season. R.J. Ogom, a 6-4 sophomore who transferred in from Marian Catholic, has provided a presence around the basket and adds 10.3 points a game.
The sectional seeds will be submitted by coaches across the state with regional and sectional pairings to be announced later this week. There are very few top seeds up for grabs this week.
That’s not the case in the wide open Lake Zurich Sectional. A key game Tuesday night between two hot North Suburban Conference teams could decide the No. 1 seed.
Lake Zurich has won 10 of its last 12. Stevenson has won seven straight. The winner of this rematch –– Stevenson beat Lake Zurich 42-41 in early January –– becomes the favorite in what is a balanced sectional.
Will there be any real surprises in March in this sectional? There are as many as 10 teams with realistic visions of making a deep run in this sectional.
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