Breaking down the Class 4A high school basketball sectionals

Joe Henricksen seeds the top eight teams in each of the Chicago-area sectionals

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Waubonsie Valley players celebrate during the game against Clemente.

Waubonsie Valley players celebrate during the game against Clemente.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

It’s that time. It’s time to plant the sectional seeds as state tournament time is just around the corner.

This week high school coaches across the state will seed the teams in their respective sectionals. We’ll know all the official seeds and the regional matchups by the end of this week.

The City/Suburban Hoops Report is one step ahead, however, and has seeded the top eight teams in each of the Chicago area sectionals ––Class 4A today and Class 3A tomorrow –– in a preview of what it may look like later this week.

There is quite a bit to take into consideration. While too many coaches will simply look at the win totals of a team, the City/Suburban Hoops Report digs deep with a whole lot of homework and research put in.

While won-loss records do matter, in the eyes of the City/Suburban Hoops Report so to does schedule strength, how a team is currently playing, the eye test and head-to-head matchups over the course of the season.

There will surely be some debate here and there, but in addition to the following seeds are the reasons and explanations for those seeds.

Here we go with how the City/Suburban Hoops Report would seed each sectional.

Lockport Sectional

1. Joliet West (23-4)

2. Bolingbrook (23-5)

3. Waubonsie Valley (24-4)

4. Neuqua Valley (21-7)

5. Oswego East (18-9)

6. Plainfield North (18-7)

7. Lincoln-Way Central (21-7)

8. Oswego (18-8)

Sectional seed breakdown:This is a tough sectional to seed. There have been certain circumstances in head-to-head matchups that go beyond the results.

The top two teams, Bolingbrook and Joliet West, can both legitimately argue for a top seed.

Although Bolingbrook did beat Joliet West 74-67 two weeks ago, Joliet West played without most of its key players, including leading scorers Jamere Hill and Jaiden Lee. So figuring out much from that game doesn’t do a whole lot of good.

The overall résumé of Joliet West is better. The Tigers beat Brother Rice, Lincoln-Way Central, Lincoln-Way East, Simeon, Benet, Oswego, Oswego East and Hillcrest. And there isn’t a bad loss among their four in defeats to four ranked teams.

Joliet West gets the nod on the top line and Bolingbrook slides in at No. 2

Waubonsie beat up Neuqua early in the season and then lost a recent buzzer-beater, though the Warriors were without second-leading scorer Ben Schwieger. Waubonsie also has that impressive win over ranked Marian Catholic and knocked off DeKalb over the weekend.

Waubonsie gets the edge over Neuqua Valley at No. 3.

Oswego East, Plainfield North and Lincoln-Way Central will all fight it out for the fifth, sixth and seventh seeds. Staying out of the No. 7 hole is the mission, which would avoid playing either Joliet West or Bolingbrook in the regional final.

Plainfield North is playing its best basketball right now, winning 10 straight games. Plainfield North did beat Oswego East back in December, but the Wolves were playing without top player Tommy Schultz at that time.

Oswego East has played a tougher schedule than Lincoln-Way Central, Oswego and Plainfield North. Thus, the Wolves get the edge.

Lincoln-Way Central has reached 20 wins, including a victory over Bolingbrook. But beyond that win over Bolingbrook there isn’t a lot to hang its hat on when looking over the schedule.

Romeoville (15-13) and Plainfield Central (14-11) would round out the top 10.

Addison Trail Sectional

1. Lake Park (21-6)

2. Wheaton South (17-10)

3. Glenbard East (18-8)

4. Naperville Central (18-9)

5. Geneva (14-11)

6. Hinsdale Central (13-13)

7. Batavia (14-12)

8. Wheaton North (14-12)

Sectional seed breakdown:Right now the weakest sectional in the state only has one team with 20 wins on the season ––Lake Park.

Lake Park is the best team on paper and heads into seeding week with the best record. The Lancers get the top seed. Wheaton South nabs the second seed.

Glenbard East and Naperville Central both have 18 wins. Glenbard East owns a January win over Naperville Central and locks up the No. 3 seed.

Geneva and Batavia split this year, but Geneva beat Batavia in the most recent matchup with a win over this past weekend to inch its way to the No. 5 seed despite its modest 14-11 record.

Hinsdale Central might be hovering around the .500 mark, but the Red Devils have played a quality schedule –– and have wins over sectional teams in Wheaton North, Downers Grove North and Glenbard West.

Batavia and Wheaton North have identical records, but the Bulldogs beat the Falcons in their one head-to-head matchup in January.

Glenbard West has 15 wins but has hit a really rough patch and has lost leading scorer Braden Huff for this season with an injury. That drops the Hilltoppers out of the top eight seeds.

Elk Grove Sectional

1. Loyola (24-4)

2. Glenbrook South (25-3)

3. Evanston (24-3)

4. Niles North (24-4)

5. New Trier (16-10)

6. Schaumburg (22-5)

7. Rolling Meadows (18-7)

8. Maine South (16-13)

Sectional seed breakdown:This is quite a sectional with five teams with 22-plus wins already, including the top four seeds with 24 or more victories.

There are three teams all jockeying for the top three seeds. Evanston has put together a terrific season, but it’s the odd team out of this race for No. 1 with losses to both Glenbrook South and Loyola. Thus, the Wildkits are the No. 3 seed.

Deciding between Loyola and Glenbrook South is a toss-up. Loyola’s schedule strength gets the edge over Glenbrook South. In addition to beating Evanston, the Ramblers beat Notre Dame (Glenbrook South lost to Notre Dame), so that’s two wins over teams that have been ranked among the top half dozen teams all season. Plus, Loyola has played the likes of Homewood-Flossmoor and Stevenson in non-conference action.

Niles North has put together an impressive record but has lost to both Evanston and Glenbrook South. Aquan Smart and Company will settle for the fourth seed.

New Trier may not have the win total of Schaumburg, but the Trevians have played a tougher schedule. Plus, Schaumburg just recently lost to Glenbrook North, the last-place team in aCentral Suburban League South that includes New Trier, Evanston and Glenbrook South. New Trier walloped Glenbrook North by 24 points in January.

Schaumburg does own a win over Rolling Meadows to lock up the No. 6 seed, while Maine South beat up 17-win Schurz to secure the No. 8 seed.

Prospect Sectional

1. Stevenson (21-4)

2. Mundelein (23-4)

3. Buffalo Grove (22-6)

4. Libertyville (18-8)

5. Zion-Benton (16-10)

6. Barrington (19-5)

7. Palatine (17-11)

8. Lake Forest (16-10)

Sectional seed breakdown:Stevenson’s win over Mundelein this past Friday night secured the top seed in this sectional. Stevenson now has two wins over conference foe and 23-win Mundelein.

Buffalo Grove has the wins and has beaten both Libertyville and Zion-Benton to secure the No. 3 seed.

After those top three seeds there is a whole lot of sorting out to do when it comes to seeding four through eight. And it’s a bit of a mess.

The North Suburban Conference has proven to be better than the Mid-Suburban League over the course of the season and will receive the benefit of the doubt when lumping this group of teams together. The three North Suburban Conference teams with similar win totals –– Zion-Benton, Lake Forest and Libertyville –– have all taken turns beating one another.

Zion-Benton is the most dangerous of those teams that will be seeded four through eight. However, Libertyville is the hottest, winning six of its last seven –– the only loss in that stretch coming to the projected third seed in the sectional, Buffalo Grove –– and has beaten Zion-Benton.

Barrington is also hot. The Broncos have won six straight and eight of their last nine, including a win over Palatine this past weekend. Those credentials push them up to the No. 6 seed.

Palatine, Lake Forest and Highland Park all will be in the mix for the seventh, eighth and ninth seeds. Highland Park is missing the marquee win. Lake Forest has a win over Stevenson to pump up its résumé. But Palatine gets the nod as the Pirates have 17 wins and own a win over Lake Forest in late December.

Bloom Sectional

1. Bloom (23-5)

2. Thornton (26-1)

3. Homewood-Flossmoor (22-3)

4. Marian Catholic (21-7)

5. Brother Rice (18-9)

6. Lincoln-Way East (15-9)

7. Oak Lawn (22-6)

8. Eisenhower (20-6)

Sectional seed breakdown:This rugged sectional includes a pair of top five teams in Bloom and Thornton. The two split the season series. However, Bloom lost when point guard Donovan Newby was out of action and won the most recent battle between the two, beating Thornton 74-57.

Bloom has clearly played the tougher schedule and should be awarded the No. 1 seed, while Thornton, which has the glitzy 26-1 record and beat Homewood-Flossmoor 55-43 in January, gets the No. 2 seed over H-F.

Marian Catholic did knock off Homewood-Flossmoor. But that Marian win came way back in November. H-F has been the better team since then and clearly has a better body of work with five eye-opening wins over highly-ranked teams in Stevenson, DePaul Prep, Simeon, Loyola Academy and Bolingbrook.

Up-and-down Brother Rice is the most difficult team to seed in this sectional. The Crusaders just recently picked up wins over both DePaul Prep and Loyola Academy and have played a very strong schedule. We’re going to reward Brother Rice for its schedule and signature wins and give the Crusaders the No. 5 seed.

The No. 6 seed would appear to be up for grabs. However, 21-win Oak Lawn has fallen short in its biggest tests of the year, losing to New Trier, Hillcrest, Riverside-Brookfield, Oak Forest and, yes, Lincoln-Way East.

Lincoln-Way East, despite its recent struggles, did beat Oak Lawn in December and should claim the No. 6 seed.

Lyons Sectional

1. Curie (24-2)

2. Simeon (22-8)

3. Young (18-9)

4. York (25-3)

5. St. Rita (17-10)

6. Morton (17-6)

7. Oak Park (13-10)

8. Lyons (16-8)

Sectional seed breakdown:The top four seeds are clear. Curie’s been the state’s best team for three-plus months and is the easy choice as the No. 1 seed, even after losing to Simeon this past weekend. Curie’s body of work is too impressive despite the recent loss.

Simeon and Young will settle in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Simeon’s recent run, which includes high-profile wins over Morgan Park (twice), Notre Dame, Collinsville and Curie, gives the Wolverines the second seed. York’s 25 wins nabs the No. 4 seed for the Dukes.

The five through eight seeds are up for grabs and there could be some debate among several teams. However, St. Rita has won seven of its last eight, played a very competitive schedule and beat Morton earlier this season. Morton beat Oak Park, a team that is scuffling with losses to Glenbard West and York over the weekend.

Oak Park’s schedule strength and win over Lyons is going to inch the Huskies past the teams that have more wins.

McHenry Sectional

Sub-Sectional A

1. Cary-Grove (25-3)

2. St. Charles North (19-7)

3. St. Charles East (19-7)

4. Jacobs (16-12)

Sub-Sectional B

1. DeKalb (21-7)

2. Rockford East (17-11)

3. Rockford Jefferson (22-5)

4. Huntley (22-6)

Sectional seed breakdown:This isn’t exactly a minefield of a sectional. But DeKalb and Cary-Grove have earned their respective seeds with stellar regular seasons.

St. Charles North has beaten St. Charles East to move ahead of its rival.

Rockford East has beaten Rockford Jefferson twice and has split with Rockford Auburn, so the E-Rabs nudge themselves past the other NIC-10 teams.

Huntley, with its January win over Cary-Grove, could make an argument for a No. 3 seed.

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