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Breaking down the sectional assignments

Here is some instant reaction and a few quick observations to where all the teams are headed in a little over two months from now. 

Glenbard West’s Ryan Renfro (45) controls the ball as the Hilltoppers play Hillcrest.
Glenbard West’s Ryan Renfro (45) controls the ball as the Hilltoppers play Hillcrest.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

The IHSA announced its sectional assignments for boys basketball. Here is some instant reaction and a few quick observations to where all the teams are headed in a little over two months from now.

Toughest sectional

On paper, right now through about a quarter of the season, it’s a toss-up between two Class 4A sectionals: the Thornwood Sectional and the TBA sectional.

Kenwood will be the team to beat at Thornwood but will be challenged by St. Rita, Brother Rice, Bloom and Homewood-Flossmoor. The headliners in the TBA Sectional are Young, Curie, Proviso East, Riverside-Brookfield, Oak Park and Lyons.

Most wide open sectional

The Barrington Sectional is as down as it’s been in years. There isn’t a ranked team in this sectional. Thus, it’s wide open. Throw Barrington, Stevenson, Prospect, Fremd, Palatine and Libertyville all into the mix.

Biggest winners

As if big, bad Simeon and its long history of success needed to be a winner in all of this class movement. But coach Robert Smith’s Wolverines are indeed a big winner.

Simeon moves from 4A, where it likely would have been in a sectional with Kenwood, St. Rita, Brother Rice, Bloom and H-F, to a very winnable Class 3A sectional where Glenbard South, Hinsdale South, Nazareth, Lindblom and St. Laurence will be duking it out for the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.

The biggest test for Simeon will come from a Mount Carmel team that is unbeaten.

Thornton is definitely a winner with its move from Class 4A to Class 3A when you consider the 4A sectional coach Tai Streets’ team would likely have been placed. However, the Wildcats still could have to face a talented Hillcrest, Robbie Avila and Oak Forest and maybe have to play Marian Catholic in the sectional host’s gym.

Lake Forest is another Class 3A team that appears to be a winner. The Scouts, led by junior star Asa Thomas, move down from Class 4A and look to be the team to beat in its sectional, especially with 3A strongholds Notre Dame, St. Viator and St. Patrick a bit down in comparison to recent years.

We will take a couple of teams out of the Oswego Sectional –– Bolingbrook and Oswego East –– that are both unbeaten on the season as two of our sectional assignment winners.

These two are in a rather light sectional where right now they’re the overwhelming top two seeds — and by quite a distance. The winner of this sectional also avoids all the other Chicago area heavyweights and are bracketed up with the Collinsville Sectional winner, meeting in the Normal Super.

Where does No. 1 stand?

Glenbard West was the preseason No. 1 team and has beaten Glenbrook South, Yorkville Christian and Hillcrest as it heads to the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament at York next week. The unbeaten Hilltoppers will surely get a test or two in a very competitive 32-team field.

But when March rolls around you have to like where Glenbard West is sitting right now.

Yes, Benet will be awfully dangerous by March as it always is with coach Gene Heidkamp. And no one wants to play Wheaton Warrenville South in a one-time, win-or-go-home March matchup with its unique defensive style and system. However, the sectional isn’t exactly a minefield. And the matchup in the super-sectional will be very favorable no matter who comes out of the Huntley Sectional.

Way-too-early super-sectional forecast for March

Class 4A Supersectionals

UIC Super: Young vs. Kenwood

TBA Super: Libertyville vs. Glenbrook South

Normal Super: Normal vs. Oswego East

DeKalb Super: Glenbard West vs. Larkin

Class 3A Supersectionals

Springfield Super: Lincoln vs. East St. Louis

TBA Super: Lake Forest vs. St. Ignatius

UIC Super: Hillcrest vs. Simeon

Ottawa Super: Rockford Boylan vs. Rock Island