Predicting the Class 4A and 3A state tournaments

With regional championship games on Friday, here is how Joe Henricksen sees it all unfolding.

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Moline’s Owen Freeman dunks against Simeon at the When Sides Collide Shootout.

Moline’s Owen Freeman dunks against Simeon at the When Sides Collide Shootout.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

The long road, which began with practices in November, opening games over Thanksgiving and a three-month regular season, comes down to a three-week sprint.

With regional championship games on Friday, here is how I see it all unfolding in this state tournament forecast.

Class 4A

Hoffman Estates Super-Sectional: Rolling Meadows over Palatine

A pair of sectional No. 3 seeds meet in a super.

New Trier is the top seed and gets to play the sectional on its home floor. But it’s Rolling Meadows that rises to the occasion. Red-hot Palatine gets through North Suburban Conference schools Stevenson and Libertyville in the sectional to set up a very rare Mid-Suburban League super-sectional matchup.

DeKalb Super-Sectional: Benet over Rockford Auburn

Benet will be a considerable favorite in both the sectional and in the super-sectional, while Auburn finds a way in an up-for-grabs, winnable sectional.

UIC Super-Sectional: Kenwood over Curie

With so many high-powered, ranked teams there is no super-sectional more difficult to predict. There are a half dozen teams that could make it to Champaign. When in doubt, go with the most talent.

ISU Super-Sectional: Moline over Joliet West

Jeremy Fears, Jr. of Joliet West and Brock Harding of Moline, two future Big Ten point guards go head-to-head in arguably the best super-sectional in the state.

Class 4A Semifinal Picks: Benet over Rolling Meadows; Moline over Kenwood

Class 4A State Champ: Moline

Moline has proven it can play and beat just about anyone, dismantling East St. Louis and Rolling Meadows while losing in the final seconds to Simeon –– all in the second half of the season. The Maroons have two key ingredients to lean on in dynamic point guard Brock Harding and a dominating big man in 6-10 Owen Freeman.

Class 3A

Hoffman Estates Super-Sectional: Lake Forest over De La Salle

Asa Thomas and Lake Forest have been out of the limelight this season. They both return with the program’s first-ever sectional championship and a trip to state.

UIC Super-Sectional: Simeon over Hillcrest

In a classic heavyweight matchup featuring two perennial powers, the Robert Smith farewell tour extends another week and moves to Champaign..

Ottawa Super-Sectional: Metamora over Burlington Central

Burlington Central gets over the hump and wins its first-ever sectional. But Metamora, last year’s 3A runner-up, is too experienced and has been down this road before.

Springfield Super-Sectional: Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin over East St. Louis

The defending Class 3A state champs, SHG, play the super in its own back yard and keeps the repeat hopes alive.

Class 3A Semifinals Picks: Simeon over Lake Forest; Sacred Heart-Griffin over Metamora

Class 3A State Champ: Simeon

What a storybook ending it would be for retiring coach Robert Smith, who won his 500th career game last month. The most successful boys high school basketball coach in state history caps off his career by winning his state record seventh state championship.

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