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Planting the seeds: Seeding all the Chicago area sectionals

Oswego East's Kamron Battle (24) grabs a ball out of the air, Saturday 02-09-19. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

The City/Suburban Hoops Report has seeded sectionals across the Chicago area for years.

Yes, it’s that time of the season. Coaches from across the state will be seeding sectionals this week.

Here is a sectional seeding primer with not only the seeds given but also the reasons and factors behind the seeds.

Can and should there be debate? Certainly. But these seeds aren’t given without a ton of research and homework put in as dozens and dozens of schedules, results and scenarios are closely examined.

The following seeds are determined on a number of factors and criteria.

Win totals and won-loss records obviously play a part in the seeding process. But if someone looks deep enough they will find all win totals and won-loss records aren’t the same.

So, yes, a team’s record is important. But in this process the team’s schedule has to be taken into account. Why teams that play tough schedules aren’t rewarded more than they are in high school basketball always baffles me.

So we have won-loss records and schedule strength. We also have a great deciding factor with head-to-head play. There may be coaches that ignore recent play, but in doing this I do take a close look at how a team has been playing over the past month.

There may be some who disregard injuries, stating many teams have them and no one is always sure who has or hasn’t played in certain games over the course of the season. But there are definitely some instances where common sense prevails and where it’s obvious the impact of losing a star player is clear and has impacted a team’s season and record.

Then there is the simple eye test. When all of the above fails, what team do you think is better?

Coaches are required to submit their seeds by Thursday. There should’t be a whole lot of change in the coming days. So here is where the City/Suburban Hoops Report sees the Chicago area sectional seeds with a final update posted Wednesday.

CLASS 4A

NILES NORTH SECTIONAL

1. Evanston (24-4)

2. New Trier (22-4)

3. Niles North (19-8)

4. Maine South (19-9)

5. Notre Dame (17-10)

6. Loyola (18-11)

7. Glenbrook South (19-8)

8. Schaumburg (20-5)

Overview: This is as challenging of a sectional to seed as any out there, so we’re going to have to dive in deep with these seeds and the reasons why.

Evanston has gone out and secured the top seed, while rival New Trier has locked up the second seed based on its total body of work and its won-loss record. The Trevians did lose to Niles North this past weekend, though Ciaran Brayboy was out of action. And New Trier will be without a very important piece, Sam Silverstein, the rest of the way. That’s a lot to take in when seeding the Trevians.

Niles North has been a little bit of a jekyll and hyde team. But coach Glenn Olson’s team is playing well with a 9-2 record in its last 11 games. While its season has been a little under the radar, Niles North has split with Glenbrook South, winning the most recent matchup, and has beaten Maine South, Notre Dame and New Trier. That’s a decent amount of work put in to narrowly grab the No. 3 seed.

However, when up against upper echelon teams Niles North has really struggled, losing to Evanston by 14 and 26 points, losing to Geneva by 13 points and losing to Waukegan by 22 points.

Maine South doesn’t have many eye-opening wins to hang its hat on but is playing its best basketball of the season. The Hawks have won seven of eight, including wins over Notre Dame and Glenbrook South in the last two weeks.

Notre Dame has fought through some inconsistency but is 7-3 in its last 10. The always-strong East Suburban Catholic Conference, combined with non-conference games with St. Laurence, DePaul Prep, Niles North, Loyola, Maine South and Waukegan, helps the seed here. The win that stands out in the past month is beating Loyola, another team fighting for a top five seed in this sectional.

In Loyola’s defense, the Ramblers were 16-6 with its best player, Connor Barrett, in the lineup. Barrett has been out with an injury and Loyola has gone 2-4 in his absence. The hope is he returns sooner that later. But the overall schedule strength stands out and Loyola lands at No. 6.

Glenbrook South’s biggest and best wins came in December and is only 5-4 in its last nine games, including losses to sectional teams Evanston, New Trier, Maine South and Niles North in that stretch. But Glenbrook South’s “A game” did beat the sectional’s top seed, Evanston. That keeps them among the top eight seeds.

Schaumburg’s win total is in line with all of the teams in this sectional that are bunched together. But the schedule the Saxons have played really hurts them.

Schaumburg has played just one ranked team all year, losing to Geneva way back in November. The biggest win came against a strong but unranked Fremd team. And Schaumburg has played three teams all season with more than 15 wins –– Kennedy out of the Public League’s Blue-Central, Cary-Grove and Fremd.

WAUKEGAN SECTIONAL

1. Stevenson (22-3)

2. Fremd (18-4)

3. Waukegan (22-5)

4. Mundelein (17-9)

5. Deerfield (18-9)

6. Prospect (14-12)

7. Barrington (16-9)

8. Zion-Benton (11-12)

Overview: Stevenson is the hottest team in the sectional and has two wins over Waukegan and résumé-building non-conference wins over ranked York and Richards.

Fremd has not played the schedule Waukegan has played and their records are similar, but it’s hard to ignore Fremd’s 66-60 win over Waukegan in December at the Hardwood Classic. Waukegan has beaten Mundelein twice, so the second, third and fourth seeds play out easily.

Deerfield has a nice win total and beat Prospect but lost to both Fremd and Mundelein. However, the Warriors are 17-5 since their 0-4 start to the season.

Prospect beat Barrington and has played a solid non-conference schedule to earn the No. 6 seed.

There are a host of schools in the mix for the eight and nine seeds, including Zion-Benton, Libertyville, Warren, Hersey, Grant and Grayslake North.

Hersey, Grant and Grayslake North have not played the type of schedule or have the influential wins to push themselves into the top eight. Zion-Benton has not had a typical year for themselves, but they did beat both Warren and Libertyville recently and played Stevenson tough.

BARTLETT SECTIONAL

1. Geneva (25-1)

2. Benet (19-7)

3. Downers Grove South (19-6)

4. Naperville North (15-11)

5. Downers Grove North (19-10)

6. Lyons Twp. (19-9)

7. Glenbard West (17-9)

8. Wheaton South (17-10)

Overview: Geneva is the no-brainer top seed. Benet, due to playing the most demanding schedule of any team in this sectional, checks in at No. 2. Those top two seeds should be pretty straightforward.

Then it gets really debatable and interesting.

Downers Grove South did lose to Naperville North. But the Mustangs have gone 18-2 over the past two months after starting the season 1-4. Plus, Downers South has gone 5-0 against sectional teams Downers Grove North, Willowbrook (two wins), Lyons and Wheaton North.

The schedule hasn’t exactly been a grind; Downers South has only played one ranked team during that 17-2 stretch, losing to York, and has also lost twice to its other top opponent on its schedule, Proviso East. That schedule and who the Mustangs have beat is a real drawback.

Naperville North is the team coaches in this sectional need to understand.

First, the Huskies lost four very winnable games without its star player, Tom Welch, including this past weekend’s loss to Plainfield North where he was lost in the first minute of the game. That could easily turn the 14-11 record to 18-7 or 17-8.

Plus, the Huskies have played a rock solid schedule with six of their other losses coming to teams that have been ranked at some point this season, including losing to Geneva, the top team in the sectional, in overtime. Naperville North also owns that win over Downers Grove South, another team fighting for a top four seed in this sectional.

I think you could argue Naperville North as a No. 3 seed, even with its win total, due to the schedule it has faced and owning a win over Downers Grove South.

The messiness continues as there are five or six other teams with similar résumés to sort out as Downers Grove North, Glenbard West, Lyons, Wheaton North, Wheaton South and Lake Park have all taken turns beating one another.

Downers Grove North has split with both Lyons and Glenbard West. Downers Grove North beat Glenbard West in its most recent matchup and has gone 6-3 in its last nine games and gets the No. 5 seed, though Tuesday’s loss to Hinsdale Central weakens its case.

The No. 6 and No. 7 seeds should have been determined Tuesday night when Glenbard West faced Lyons. LT gets the No. 6 seed with the 63-56 win over Glenbard West.

It’s a flip of the coin between Wheaton North and Wheaton South. The two have split this season. But Wheaton South has the better overall record and beat Wheaton North last week. You could add Willowbrook in this conversation as well as the Warriors knocked off Proviso East Tuesday night. We’ll go Wheaton South at No. 8, Willowbrook at No. 9 and Wheaton North at No. 10.

Lake Park has one huge win on the season, knocking off top-seed Geneva last month. But the Lancers are just 1-4 among this group of teams all jockeying for position, including two losses to Wheaton North and a loss to both Wheaton South and Downers Grove North.

The depth of this sectional stands out as Wheaton North (16-11), Lake Park (18-9), DeKalb (15-11) and Willowbrook (16-10) are all just on the outside looking in at a top eight seed. All that means is the No. 10, No. 11 and No. 12 seeds are going to be competitive double-digit seeds in this sectional.

ROCKFORD SECTIONAL

Sub-Sectional A

1. Cary-Grove (18-6)

2. St. Charles East (16-12)

3. South Elgin (20-6)

4. Dundee-Crown (17-7)

Overview: Cary-Grove has split with Dundee-Crown this season, though it did win the most recent meeting Feb. 1 in double overtime. The Trojans also beat South Elgin in December and the win over 22-win Waubonsie Valley stands out.

South Elgin has won eight of its last nine with a win over Oswego East. But the Storm lost to St. Charles East in the early part of the season. St. Charles East’s record isn’t going to jump out at anyone, but the Saints have played the best schedule of any team in this sub-sectional.

Sub-Sectional B

1. Rockford East (26-2)

2. Harlem (17-9)

3. Rockford Auburn (16-10)

4. Rockford Boylan (17-11)

Overview: Rockford East is rolling and the favorite to win this sectional.

The other three? Good luck. Rockford Auburn has won eight straight but lost to Rockford Boylan and has split with Harlem.

EAST AURORA SECTIONAL

1. Bolingbrook (17-6)

2. Waubonsie Valley (23-3)

3. Oswego East (19-7)

4. West Aurora (23-5)

5. Oswego (15-10)

6. Romeoville (16-7)

7. Plainfield East (14-10)

8. Joliet Central (15-11)

Overview: There are a lot of sectionals that will be difficult to seed. This wasn’t one of them –– until Saturday night when Waubonsie Valley put a wrinkle in things with a win over Oswego East.

Bolingbrook is the clear No. 1 seed. The Raiders have played the toughest schedule in this sectional and have the most talent.

Oswego East has beaten West Aurora and could have wrapped up the No. 2 seed with a win over Waubonsie Valley this past weekend. But the Wolves fell. As a result, Oswego East will ride its 12-point win over West Aurora and a strong schedule –– the Wolves have beaten Downers Grove South, Naperville North, St. Rita and DePaul Prep while losing to ranked teams in Normal, St. Viator, York and Homewood-Flossmoor –– and secure the No. 3 seed. Oswego East has played 19 teams with 14 or more wins this season.

Go ahead and pencil in West Aurora with the fourth seed. Their schedule just doesn’t match up against the slate Oswego East has played. The Blackhawks have had a rock solid season and sport a 23-4 record. But West Aurora has feasted off a very down Upstate Eight with 15 wins and outside of an 18-point loss to Bloom and a trip to Pontiac over the holidays the schedule hasn’t offered much else. And the loss Tuesday to 8-19 Bartlett doesn’t help its cause.

Oswego had a great opportunity to push itself up in seed but lost to both Waubonsie Valley and Oswego East this past week. But the Panthers do have recent wins over Plainfield East and Romeoville.

Joliet Central has lost to Romeoville twice, lacks a real marquee wins among its 15 and lost four of its last six.

Lockport is 12-9 but is 0-3 vs. Southwest Prairie Conference and sectional foes Romeoville, Plainfield North and Plainfield South, thus settling for likely a No. 9 seed.

EISENHOWER SECTIONAL

1. Bloom (21-3)

2. Marian Catholic (24-3)

3. Simeon (15-13)

4. Homewood-Flossmoor (19-5)

5. St. Rita (21-7)

6. Brother Rice (20-7)

7. Thornton (19-7)

8. Richards (16-6)

Overview: It’s a Chicago Heights battle for the top spot in this sectional. Both Bloom and Marian Catholic are deserving after putting together impressive seasons up to this point. Each team has three losses but both teams have lost games with their best players out of action.

Bloom has gone 9-2 against teams that have been ranked at one point this season. Marian Catholic has gone 7-2 against ranked teams. But Bloom’s win over Morgan Park remains a major résumé-boosting win while one of its losses came to No. 1 Curie. Bloom gets the nod.

You’ve been told repeatedly to forget Simeon’s record. The Wolverines schedule has been ridiculously tough. They’ve suffered through some injuries and do have a win over Homewood-Flossmoor. While Simeon gets the No. 3 seed, H-F slides in nicely at No. 4.

St. Rita is playing its best basketball of the season, winning 11 of its last 12 games, and has also beaten Brother Rice to wrap up the fifth seed.

Brother Rice, Thornton, Thornwood and Richards all have nice win totals, but they are all lacking the impressive win or two that set them apart from the rest. They’ve taken care of the teams they should beat. But Brother Rice boasts Marquise Kennedy and its schedule is the strongest of the four.

Yes, Thornton is hot. The Wildcats have won nine in a row. But the schedule strength is really lacking. Richards and Thornwood are the final two teams and slot in as the eight-nine seeds. Take your pick between the two, but we’re giving the edge to Richards.

PROVISO WEST SECTIONAL

1. Curie (25-1)

2. Young (20-6)

3. Lincoln Park (20-7)

4. Oak Park (16-8)

5. York (25-4)

6. Riverside-Brookfield (23-4)

7. Proviso East (19-8)

8. Lane (15-8)

9. Fenwick (13-13)

Overview: [Editor’s Note: A correction has been made from an earlier version regarding Lane. Apologies for the error].

Curie is the No. 1 ranked team in the Chicago area and hasn’t lost to a team in Illinois. Young receives the No. 2 seed based on its talent and the rugged schedule it has faced.

Lincoln Park has won 11 straight games and has played a very strong schedule. The Lions have beaten New Trier, Young, Maine South, Naperville North, Farragut and Bloomington. Coach Pat Gordon has also added the program’s top prospect, 6-8 junior Romelle Howard, into the rotation. He played his first game of the season this past week. Lincoln Park gets the No. 3 seed.

York had the No. 3 seed pretty much wrapped up going into this past weekend. But it’s impossible to seed the Dukes, even with their 23 wins, ahead of Oak Park. The Huskies are 8-2 since the Pontiac Holiday Tournament with two wins over York, including a 29-point win a few weeks back, and victories over St. Rita, Benet, Orr and West Aurora.

Still, with wins over Benet, St. Laurence, Oswego East, Downers Grove South, two wins over Lyons and two wins over Downers Grove North and playing Oak Park twice, Stevenson and Rockford East, York’s has a diversified and pretty impressive résumé.

Riverside-Brookfield has the win total and victories over Oak Park, Fenwick and Kenwood to secure the No. 6 seed.

Fenwick, Kenwood and Lane will fill in the seven, eight and nine seeds in some order and get the pleasure of facing the two city powerhouses, Curie or Young, in a regional final. Kenwood has lost five of their last seven games. Lane has the most wins and has beaten Niles North, North Lawndale, Uplift, Oak Forest and Wheaton South. Thus, that leaves a tough call between Fenwick, which is fresh off a win over St. Laurence and has played a rugged schedule, and Lane.

CLASS 3A SECTIONAL

NORTH LAWNDALE SECTIONAL

1. Farragut (17-7)

2. North Lawndale (14-10)

3. Westinghouse (15-10)

4. Payton (15-10)

5. De La Salle (13-12)

Overview: Yes, Farragut did lose to North Lawndale in early December, but the Admirals are playing so much better and have a better body of work since then. Farragut started the season 2-3 but is 15-3 since that loss to North Lawndale.

Westinghouse has won 15 games while playing a very tough non-conference schedule. Payton beat De La Salle.

GRAYSLAKE CENTRAL SECTIONAL

1. St. Viator (21-5)

2. DePaul Prep (17-8)

3. Carmel (18-10)

4. St. Patrick (15-10)

5. Grayslake Central (12-12)

Overview: This will be a St. Viator and DePaul Prep battle with Carmel, St. Patrick and Grayslake Central all looking to pull off a pretty big upset.

St. Viator persevered without star point guard Trey Calvin for a few weeks. He’s returned and the Lions are also playing well with six wins in their last seven games. DePaul has played one heck of a schedule, but it’s also lost five of its last eight games.

After a slow start, Carmel is playing its best basketball. The Corsairs are the clear choice at No. 3 after going 5-2 in their last seven games but with a loss to St. Viator.

Grayslake Central is under .500 but has won three in a row, including walloping North Chicago, another sectional foe.

ST. LAURENCE SECTIONAL

1. Morgan Park (25-3)

2. Bogan (22-3)

3. Mount Carmel (18-8)

4. St. Laurence (22-5)

5. Lindblom (21-5)

Overview: [Note: This sectional has been updated to correct an earlier result].

Morgan Park and Bogan are the class of 3A and are bound to meet in the title game at St. Laurence. Both have put together terrific seasons with Morgan Park beating Bogan 85-77 back in December.

St. Laurence would love to get a crack at the big two on its home floor. Mt. Carmel beat St. Laurence in November and jumps the Vikings.

Following a long winning streak, Lindblom stumbled down the stretch with losses to Oak Lawn, Glenbrook North and Uplift.

RICH SOUTH SECTIONAL

Sub-Sectional A

1. Hillcrest (17-8)

2. Oak Forest (20-4)

3. Rich Central (11-11)

4. Rich South (10-12)

5. Rich East (10-12)

Overview: Oak Forest has won nine in a row and 20 games on the season, but this remains Hillcrest’s sectional to lose. The Hawks, who don’t play Oak Forest until Feb. 15, own a two-game lead over the Bengals in the South Suburban Blue.

After a slow start to the season, Rich Central is playing its best basketball. The Olympians have climbed to .500 by winning eight of its last nine, including wins over Rich East and Rich South to earn the No. 3 seed. Rich Central has also beaten Thornridge, another team in this sub-sectional vying for a top five seed.

Sub-Sectional B

1. Ottawa (20-2)

2. Kankakee (17-5)

3. Normal U-High (18-7)

4. Coal City (15-7)

5. Pontiac (13-11)

Overview: There’s a top three teams and everyone else in this sub-sectional. But there is no head-to-head and very few common opponents.