Previewing the top regional finals

A look at some of Friday’s best regional championship games.

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Lyons’ Niklas Polonowski (35) shoots a three against Perspective-Leadership’s Jakeem Cole (12).

Lyons’ Niklas Polonowski (35) shoots a three against Perspective-Leadership’s Jakeem Cole (12).

Quinn Harris/For the Sun-Times

The regular Weekend Forecast ramps up with regional final action Friday night. The lineup of games features a number of 20-plus game winners colliding and includes a couple of Super 25 matchups — all with their seasons on the line.

Here is a preview — with some picks — of the top regional championship games throughout the area.

Season picks: 35-15

Curie (20-10) vs. Lyons (25-5)

Curie, the No. 3 seed in the Hinsdale Central Sectional, received no favors when the brackets were released. There are many traps on their way to a potential appearance in Champaign in two weeks.

That includes what might be the best regional championship game in the state.

The Lyons’ gym should be rocking with an atmosphere befitting a regional title game featuring two highly ranked teams. With the Lions in an underdog, spoiler role, the pressure should be relatively off coach Tom Sloan’s team.

Lyons won’t be fazed, not with a senior-dominated group led by Penn recruit Niklas Polonowski.

Curie’s ceiling shows how good this team can be. The Condors have wins over Riverside-Brookfield, Oswego East, New Trier, Joliet West, Simeon and Young.

Carlos Harris is a crunch-time player in the backcourt, and the balance and depth for coach Mike Oliver’s team is impressive. Whether it’s 6-7 Chikasi Ofoma, 6-5 Jeremy Harrington, Shawn Brown or Christian Brockett, Curie has multiple players who must be accounted for inside and outside.

The pick: Curie 60, Lyons 54.

Downers Grove North (28-3) vs. Proviso East (23-6)

This regional final matchup almost didn’t happen as Proviso East avoided an upset. The Pirates survived Morton in the regional semifinals with a 52-50 win.

Proviso East has the firepower in the trio of 6-7 Bryce Coleman (16 points per game), seasoned guard Jaloni Johnson (14) and Emory Marshall (13) to pull off a mild upset.

The Trojans haven’t lost since early January. They also have standout junior guard Jack Stanton and the home crowd in this game. Stanton is averaging 16 points and is a game-changing three-point shooter.

The pick: Downers Grove North 63, Proviso East 55.

Joliet West (26-5) vs. Romeoville (22-10)

This is not the ideal opponent for a No. 1 seed in a regional championship game.

Typically, the top-seeded team would face the winner of the 8-9 game. Instead, Joliet West will not only face the No. 6 seed, but also have to beat a neighboring conference team for a third time this season.

Romeoville has 22 wins and a backcourt in Troy Cicero and junior Meyoh Swansey that will compete. The Spartans played the favored Tigers pretty tough in the regular season, with Joliet West winning both games, 79-71 and 72-61.

Joliet West has the best player on the floor in Jeremy Fears Jr., plenty of other weapons and the home crowd, which should be buzzing. That should be enough for a three-game sweep of Romeoville.

The pick: Joliet West 72, Romeoville 61.

Lincoln-Way East (24-5) vs. Neuqua Valley (25-7)

Can a record-breaking season get even better for Lincoln-Way East?

With a victory over East Aurora in the regional semifinal Wednesday, the Griffins broke the program record for wins in a season. Now they look to win just the second regional championship in program history.

Balance has been a key for Lincoln-Way East. Coach Rich Kolimas has three double-figure scorers in George Bellevue, Tylon Tolliver and Kyle Olagbegi, along with a distributor in Kaiden Ross and a freshman spark plug in BJ Powell.

Neuqua Valley, the DuPage Valley champs, is arguably the quietest 25-win team in the area. The Wildcats have won eight of their last nine games and have a sharpshooter in junior Luke Kinkade.

The winner gets top-seeded Joliet West on Tuesday at Bolingbrook.

The pick: Lincoln-Way East 48, Neuqua Valley 46.

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