Doesn’t it feel good again to be looking at sectional seeds and potential state tournament matchups?
After Covid wiped out last year’s state tournament, there are regional and sectional championships to be won. But first come the all-important seeds. And as usual, I’m here to help with the process, breaking down each sectional by seed and providing the research and reasons why.
These seeds are based on all that has transpired over the past two-plus months. Again, these were researched and a lot is taken into consideration, including head-to-head play, strength of schedule and how a team is currently playing.
Here is a look at how I see the sectional seeds that will be submitted by high school coaches later this week.
1. Hillcrest (23-3)
2. Thornton (17-5)
3. Marian Catholic (16-9)
4. Kankakee (18-7)
5. Oak Forest (21-7)
6. Lemont (22-5)
7. Tinley Park (13-13)
8. Evergreen Park (16-10)
Overview: Hillcrest is the easy No. 1 seed. Thornton has locked in the second seed.
Thornton, with a résumé that includes wins over H-F, St. Rita, Bloom, Kankakee and Larkin, have just three losses when star Ty Rodgers is on the floor and healthy.
Marian Catholic is an easy choice for the third seed. The Spartans have wins over Hyde Park and H-F while also recently beating Kankakee. Plus, Marian Catholic has played a very challenging schedule. The Spartans have played tough teams very well, losing to Hillcrest by two, Bolingbrook by two, Rock Island by two in double overtime and to Oswego East in overtime. That’s a tough slate.
Kankakee and Oak Forest will likely fight it out for a regional championship –– Oak Forest is one of the regional hosts –– as the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.
After a rough start to the season waiting for its football players to return from a long playoff run, Kankakee is 16-4 since starting the season 0-3. And it owns a win over Thornton.
Although you could flip a coin, we’ll go with Kankakee and the tougher schedule it’s faced with the No. 4 seed and Oak Forest at No. 5.
Lemont is playing well, winning 12 of its last 13 games. But the lone loss was a recent one to Oak Forest by 15 points. That’s going to cost them here.
Tinley Park, Richards and Evergreen Park line up next. But this is easy to sort out. It’s Tinley Park at No. 7 with wins over both Richards and Evergreen Park this season, while Evergreen Park beat Richards in late January to earn the eighth seed.
Hinsdale South Sectional
1. Simeon (22-3)
2. Hyde Park (19-7)
3. Mount Carmel (23-4)
4. Nazareth (16-11)
5. Lindblom (19-9)
6. Glenbard South (11-14)
7. Bogan (7-14)
8. Hinsdale South (9-16)
Overview: What we know about this sectional is Simeon is without question the top seed and there are a lot of teams with a lot of losses.
Mount Carmel and Hyde Park will be the next two seeds. The order will depend on what you’re looking for in a higher seed.
With wins over Homewood-Flossmoor, Bloom, Riverside-Brookfield and Hillcrest, Hyde Park has done enough work to put itself in the second seed conversation. Plus, the losses have come to ranked teams like Kenwood, Curie, Simeon, Yorkville Christian and Christian Brothers out of Missouri.
Mount Carmel has the better record and a higher win total. However, aside from a recent win over DePaul there just isn’t a win to hang its hat on in comparison to Hyde Park.
No matter how you slice it, these two will meet in the sectional semifinal if the seeds hold up.
Surprising and somewhat overlooked Nazareth plays in a solid basketball league (East Suburban Catholic Conference), has a win over St. Ignatius on its résumé and beat Lindblom earlier this season. Nazareth gets the fourth seed and Lindblom gets the fifth.
The rest of this sectional? Yikes. We’ll give the No. 6 seed to Glenbard South. A young St. Laurence has been in a tailspin, Bogan has been beaten up in the state’s toughest conference and Hinsdale South has really struggled of late. Solorio and Perspectives haven’t played anyone. But Bogan gets the seventh seed with the schedule it’s played.
North Chicago Sectional
1. Lake Forest (21-6)
2. St. Patrick (17-9)
3. Deerfield (16-9)
4. Notre Dame (17-10)
5. Carmel (17-10)
6. Vernon Hills (17-10)
7. Grayslake Central (18-10)
8.St. Viator (9-15)
Overview: Lake Forest drops from 4A to 3A this year and hopes to take advantage of playing in a winnable sectional and as a top seed. The Scouts have earned that No. 1.
St. Patrick plays a strong schedule and has wins over sectional teams Notre Dame, Grayslake Central and Deerfield to earn the No. 2 seed, while Deerfield has beaten Vernon Hills and Notre Dame and grabs the No. 3 seed.
Then it becomes a little bit of an entanglement with a bunch of teams having beaten one another while also sporting similar records.
Notre Dame has played a very good schedule but didn’t help itself against top sectional foes, losing to St. Patrick, Deerfield and Grayslake Central. But it did beat Carmel and Vernon Hills. Those wins, coupled with the schedule it’s faced, gives Notre Dame the fourth seed.
Vernon Hills and Grayslake Central boast similar records but Vernon Hills beat Grayslake Central by 21 points back in December.
Although Grayslake Central plays in a bit of obscurity in the Northern Lake County Conference, the Rams have quietly put together a solid season. But getting beaten up by Vernon Hills in December sends them to No. 7.
The pickings are slim the deeper you get into this sectional. Who do you like at No. 8 among a group that includes St. Viator, Lakes and Grayslake North? That would be St. Viator. Despite winning so few games, it’s a team that plays a more competitive schedule and beat Grayslake North easily a month ago.
1. St. Ignatius (16-10)
2. Westinghouse (12-11)
3. Fenwick (7-14)
4. De La Salle (7-21)
5. Prosser (11-8)
6. Payton (12-9)
7. Schurz (6-20)
8. Lake View (10-15)
Overview: St. Ignatius is at the top. And then …
Ummm, that’s a roughly .500 team with the No. 2 seed, a six-win team with a No. 3 seed and a 20-loss team with the No. 4 seed. Yes, you read that right.
Crystal Lake South Sectional
1. Burlington Central (25-3)
2. St. Francis (22-7)
3. Marmion (11-12)
4. Crystal Lake South (15-12)
5. Sycamore (12-12)
Overview: The top two seeds are solidified. Then it’s a group of teams right around the .500 mark. But Marmion plays in the tough Chicago Catholic League and has competed well against the best schedule of the bunch.
1. Rockford Boylan (17-9)
2. Wauconda (20-3)
3. Belvidere North (14-13)
4. Prairie Ridge (13-13)
5. Woodstock North (14-11)
Overview: Wauconda has the wins and Boylan has played the tougher schedule while still compiling 17 wins. Boylan gets the edge.
Belvidere North just beat Rockford Boylan last week and inches its way up to the third seed. Prairie Ridge owns a win over Woodstock North.