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A final thought on every team that was still alive in the state basketball playoffs

Twenty-eight teams had their seasons cut short when the IHSA state basketball tournament was canceled. A thought on each.

Hinsdale South’s Billy Durkin sits alone after the season is canceled.
Hinsdale South’s Billy Durkin sits alone after the season is canceled.
Hinsdale South BB Twitter

A final thought on the 28 teams that were still alive when the state boys basketball tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus.

CLASS 4A

Cary-Grove (31-3)

Such a sad ending for the best team in school history. The absolute sky was the limit for the Trojans. Frank Jakubicek and Beau Frericks were terrific in the double-overtime win against Huntley in the sectional semis. This could have been the second team in Fox Valley history to advance to state.

Curie (29-2)

It’s hard to overstate just how brilliant the Condors were during the regular season. And they were playing their best basketball in March, even without suspended coach Mike Oliver. Ramean Hinton, Saiveon Williams and Elijah Pickens were poised to bring a state title back to Pulaski.

East Aurora (24-10)

No one paid much attention to the Tomcats during the regular season. That changed in a hurry in March. Amarion Savage and Jacques Kelly led upsets of Oswego East and Bolingbrook on the way to the sectional final.

Evanston (29-4)

The Wildkits were robbed of a chance at three consecutive state finals appearances. The core of the team, juniors Jaylin Gibson, Blake Peters and Isaiah Holden, all return next year and the goal will be a state title.

Joliet West (29-4)

Jeremy Kreiger’s first season at the helm was a remarkable success. The Tigers outdid everyone’s expectations and were the favorites to win the Lockport Sectional and then faced a very winnable game in the ISU Supersectional. Jamere Hill was one of the season’s breakout stars, going from an unknown to a Toledo recruit.

Lake Park (25-8)

The Lancers were favored to win the Addison Trail sectional and had the firepower to wind up in Peoria with a good performance in the supersectional.

Loyola (30-4)

How far would the Ramblers’ top-notch defense have taken them in the tournament? We will never find out. They had already knocked off Evanston, the sectional final opponent, in the regular season.

Marian Catholic (25-8)

Mike Taylor slowed it down and beat Bloom in one of the biggest shockers of the playoffs. Who knows how far the Spartans would have continued on after that burst of confidence.

Mundelein (30-4)

This exciting, junior-laden squad was denied a chance at major playoff experience. It would have been extremely valuable for next season, when Conor Enright, Scottie Ebube, Jack Bikus and Trey Baker all return.

Naperville Central (23-10)

Lake Park would have had its hands full with the Redhawks in the Addison Trail sectional final. They knocked off a very hot Glenbard East team to win a regional.

St. Charles North (24-9)

There really was no favorite in the McHenry sectional final. It’s possible the North Stars or Cary-Grove would have won it. The winner would have been the favorite in the supersectional. Luke Scheffers, Christian Czerniak and Connor Linke played a rugged schedule and were ready to compete in Peoria.

Stevenson (28-4)

One of the teams that was truly robbed of something special. Pat Ambrose was coaching his two sons, senior Matthew and junior Evan. The Patriots’ path to Peoria may have consisted of Mundelein and Loyola, two teams that they had already defeated.

Thornton (32-1)

Seeing Bloom lose must have opened up all the possibilities for DJ Williams and the Wildcats. Tai Streets’ gritty team were a joy to watch this season and deserved a chance to continue proving everyone wrong.

Young (21-9)

The Dolphins didn’t have many meaningful local wins in the regular season but that wasn’t stopping them from rolling through the playoffs again. DJ Steward was a giant-killer in the sectional semifinal against Simeon and it is entirely possible he would have led Young to the state title.

CLASS 3A

Benet (24-9)

No one would have been surprised if the Redwings had found a way to upset the Red-South/Central powers and ended up playing for the state title. Coach Gene Heidkamp had an excellent blend of outside shooting and post scoring, led by Jack Prock and Colin Crothers.

Bogan (28-3)

Antione Bloxton and the Bengals split with Morgan Park during the regular season and lost to Notre Dame by just two points so the Class 3A state title was clearly a real possibility for the Proviso West Holiday Tournament champs.

Fenwick (27-7)

Throw out the up and down regular season. Bryce Hopkins and Trey Pettigrew were an absolute load in the postseason. It’s likely the Friars would have given Notre Dame all it could handle in the supersectional and after than anything would have been possible, even a state title.

Hampshire (22-11)

Cary-Grove wasn’t the Fox Valley’s only shot at Peoria. The Whip-Purs knocked off Rockford Boylan on the road in the sectional semifinal. Keep an eye on sophomore Keynan Davis, who scored 15 in the regional final win against Plano.

Hinsdale South (30-3)

The picture of Billy Durkin sitting alone at center court after the state tournament was canceled said it all, for everyone. It was the best season in school history for the Hornets and deserved a better ending.

Kankakee (27-4)

The Kays were better than everyone thought all season long. They dominated Oak Forest, everyone’s favorite story, in the sectional semis and were just the type of hard-nosed, rugged team that could have upset Morgan Park in the sectional final.

Morgan Park (22-9)

A mind-blowing collection of guard talent had started to hit its stride in March. Adam Miller and Marcus Watson Jr., two of the area’s most dazzling players over the past four years, were primed and ready to win a state title.

Notre Dame (29-5)

Teams like this rarely come along. Opportunities to win a state title arrive maybe once a generation for most schools. Sure, the Dons will be great again next season, but it is heartbreaking for the definitive best team in Class 3A to lose their chance at what would likely have been a state championship season.

St. Ignatius (24-9)

The Cinderella story of March. No one expected the Wolfpack to beat DePaul Prep in the sectional semi, so why couldn’t Daniel Florey and Kolby Giles pull off another upset against Fenwick?

St. Viator (22-9)

Everyone was looking forward to a St. Patrick vs. Notre Dame matchup in the sectional final but the Lions were having none of that. Connor Kochera and his teammates knocked off the Shamrocks and were smart and talented enough to have given the Dons a real challenge.

Wauconda (23-7)

Another team robbed of a chance to continue the best season in school history. The Bulldogs won 20 games for the first time since 1979 and had an excellent chance to win their first ever sectional.

CLASS 2A

Orr (22-7)

The Spartans had won three consecutive state titles and were the favorites to win it again. Demarius Splunge and his teammates even made the drive down to Peoria on Thursday. It’s hard to imagine how heartbreaking the drive home was.

Timothy Christian (28-5)

It was the first trip to state since 1980 for the Trojans, which knocked off St. Joseph in the playoffs. Scott Plaisier’s team didn’t receive any attention during the season, but played very competitive in losses to Bolingbrook and Benet, so they would have been very tough in Peoria.

CLASS 1A

Aurora Christian (25-6)

The third time was the charm against Indian Creek. High-scoring Taaj Davis and company was the only team to defeat the Timberwolves all season, so clearly their rugged schedule could have led to a state title.