[NOTE: As a result of some games that were played Tuesday night involving head-to-head matchups of teams in the same sectional and a couple of very significant wins, the City/Suburban Hoops Report has updated its sectional seeds. These are through Tuesday night.]
It’s seeding time. Class 4A and Class 3A sectionals will be seeded and postseason pairings announced this week.
High school coaches will pore over win totals and results (Well, some will while others will go the lazy route and simply seed based on win totals). But the City/Suburban Hoops Report makes its annual sectional seeds with analysis and breakdowns of how we got there.
Overall record does matter. But so does strength of schedule, head-to-head results and how a team is currently playing. And in some cases below, the eye test factors into the equation.
After hours of research, here are the Class 4A sectional seeds for all the sectionals in the Chicago area.
1. Bolingbrook (17-5)
2. West Aurora (18-4)
3. Lincoln-Way East (19-4)
4. Joliet Central (19-4)
5. Oswego East (16-7)
6. Romeoville (17-7)
7. Andrew (16-8)
8. Plainfield East (15-10)
9. Lemont (16-8)
Analysis and breakdown: There is a definite battle for the top spot between Bolingbrook and West Aurora. You would have a compelling argument for either one for the No. 1 seed.
West Aurora is a team that has won 10 straight games. The biggest wins in that stretch came over Jacobs, Romeoville and Willowbrook.
However, Bolingbrook has played a slightly tougher schedule and has battled being shorthanded in recent losses. The Raiders have piled up 17 wins despite senior guard Kaleb Thornton missing 11 games and big man Joey Saracco missing recent games with an illness. Both of those starters are expected back soon.
Lincoln-Way East recently beat Bolingbrook and Joliet Central, 65-53, to earn the No. 3 seed.
Joliet Central has split with Romeoville, but the Steelmen won the latest matchup, 58-55 in double overtime, less than two weeks ago and also beat Oswego East back in December.
Sorting out the next wave of teams for seeds No. 5 through No. 9, including Romeoville, Andrew, Oswego East, Plainfield East and Lemont, is really up in the air. The records are similar and there is very little head-to-head with the exception of Oswego East beating Plainfield East and, now, knocking off Romeoville Tuesday night.
This is a case of, “What have you done for me lately.” Romeoville has now dropped four of its last five while Oswego East has won 11 of its last 13, including the Tuesday win over Romeoville. That pushes the Wolves, who have played a number of ranked teams in West Aurora, Naperville North, Joliet Central and Aurora Christian, up to a No. 5 seed. The Wolves get the edge over Romeoville, Andrew, Plainfield East and Lemont.
Glenbard East Sectional
1. Naperville North (22-2)
2. Benet (19-4)
3. Wheaton South (22-5)
4. Hinsdale South (19-5)
5. Willowbrook (20-5)
6. Geneva (16-10)
7. Batavia (19-7)
8. Naperville Central (18-8)
9. Downers Grove North (13-10)
Analysis and breakdown: There is no question Naperville North’s schedule is not as strong as Benet’s schedule. But Naperville North has the best record and arguably the most talent in the sectional. The Huskies also have a marquee win, albeit in November, over West Aurora. Plus, one of North’s two losses came with leading scorer Chris Johnson out of action. That’s all enough to give Naperville North the top seed.
While Benet has been hot, winning nine straight, the only eye-catching win in that stretch is over Marist. But the Redwings, with the schedule it plays and with wins over Fenwick and Marist, deserve the second seed.
Hinsdale South is playing well. The Hornets, led by star Zion Griffin, have won seven of their last eight, including wins over Proviso East and sectional foe Willowbrook. That’s enough for a top four seed.
Willowbrook has won eight of 10 with the lone losses coming to ranked West Aurora and Hinsdale South. More importantly, Willowbrook netted recent résumé-building wins over Larkin and Proviso East, along with early-season wins over Naperville Central and Hinsdale South. It looks like Willowbrook may have to face Hinsdale South a third time in the regional final –– at Hinsdale South –– if the seeds play out this way.
Batavia owns a win December win over Naperville North and has split with Geneva. But Geneva won the most recent matchup and has played a tougher schedule. That’s enough to give Geneva the edge for the No. 7 seed.
The 13 wins with the schedule it plays gives Downers Grove North the edge for the No. 9 seed over the likes of DeKalb, Metea Valley, Glenbard West, Wheaton North and Bartlett.
Maine East Sectional
1. Evanston (20-4)
2. Niles North (21-3)
3. New Trier (20-3)
4. Loyola (21-5)
5. St. Viator (21-5)
6. Maine South (19-7)
7. Prospect (18-5)
8. Maine West (15-7)
9. Notre Dame (11-14)
Analysis and breakdown: A couple of weeks ago this sectional appeared as if it may be a nightmare to try and seed. But things have played themselves out to help alleviate those problems, at least at the top of the sectional.
There is no denying what Evanston has accomplished in helping it earn this No. 1 seed. The Wildkits are rolling, beating Maine South, Geneva, Niles North, Oak Park and Loyola in their last five games, and have played perhaps the best schedule in the sectional.
Niles North has the best winning percentage of any team in the sectional, but the Vikings currently sit in third place in the CSL South with three losses to sectional teams. Niles North has lost to New Trier, Maine South and Evanston since the calendar turned to 2018.
New Trier has upcoming games with Maine South, Evanston and Niles North. But New Trier has enough big wins, knocking off Loyola, Niles North, Larkin and St. Viator to confidently lock in to a top three seed.
If Prospect had any intention of climbing up in this tough sectional it needed a better result than this past weekend’s 58-40 loss to Niles North.
Notre Dame doesn’t have the win total, so it will likely be penalized for that by coaches in this sectional. But the Dons have played a very tough schedule and are simply better and more dangerous than other teams in this sectional with more wins. Notre Dame has knocked off Oak Park, Carmel and Deerfield.
Lake Zurich Sectional
1. Lake Zurich (20-6)
2. Stevenson (15-7)
3. Libertyville (15-8)
4. Barrington (20-5)
5. Conant (17-7)
6. Warren (15-11)
7. Buffalo Grove (15-9)
8. Palatine (16-11)
9. Highland Park (14-8)
Analysis and breakdown: At first glance, this sectional would appear to be among the most difficult to seed. And it is, especially from top to bottom. But schedule strength has to be taken into account when seeding this sectional, along with a whole bunch of head-to-head results.
The first task is figuring out where to seed the many North Suburban Conference teams. Stevenson was in the lead and in control of securing the top seed in this sectional. But Lake Zurich picked up a big win Tuesday night for win No. 20 and now owns a late-season win over Stevenson, a team it lost to earlier in the year.
Lake Zurich has won 13 of 15 and has now beaten Stevenson and Libertyville in that stretch. Libertyville has beaten MSL teams and sectional opponents Conant and Fremd. So these two North Suburban Conference teams notch the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively.
That’s three teams from the North Suburban Conference seeded above the team with the best record in the sectional –– Barrington. That won’t sit well with some, but it’s how this sectional should be seeded.
While Barrington has the best record in the sectional, the schedule hasn’t exactly been daunting. There are 12 wins over teams at or below the .500 mark. Plus, the Broncos are coming off a lopsided loss to Hoffman Estates (11-11) this past week.
But two wins over Conant, along with being on top of the Mid-Suburban League West, will go a long way in keeping the Broncos above the other MSL sectional opponents. Outside of the Mid-Suburban League, however, Barrington’s two toughest opponents were Rockford Jefferson and Jacobs. While beating Jefferson, Barrington was walloped by Jacobs by 26 points back in December.
Right now you just can’t ignore Conant’s two losses to Barrington. The Cougars, if these seeds hold true, would get another shot at Barrington in the regional final.
Warren’s win last week over Lake Zurich carries some weight, while Buffalo Grove has beaten Fremd and Palatine while losing to some very solid teams with a lot of wins (Naperville Central, Conant, Maine West, Niles North, Prospect and Geneva).
Fremd and Palatine are the tricky teams to seed. Fremd was locked in at No. 6 heading into last week but were beaten by both Palatine and Highland Park this past weekend. But in those weekend losses, Fremd was without talented Bryce Hopkins, who has come on strong and led the Vikings in scoring. He suffered a sprained ankle earlier in the week. Fremd beat Palatine 47-21 earlier this season while also owning wins over Warren and Mundelein.
But multiple sources have indicated Hopkins could be lost for the remainder of the season, which really changes how you view Fremd going forward. Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said Wednesday morning that Hopkins is being re-evaulated and more would be learned.
Palatine, meanwhile, is 3-1 against Conant and Barrington. But the 11 overall losses stand out, including a 20-point loss to Maine South and losing to Streamwood (11-17) and Schaumburg (9-16) in the past month.
Warren has a few quality wins under its belt as well, beating Lake Zurich twice and handing Jacobs one of its three losses on the season.
Since an 0-4 start to the season, Highland Park is a very respectable 13-4 since but is lacking the eye-catching win needed to be seeded higher in this sectional.
1. Simeon (23-3)
2. Marist (22-4)
3. Homewood-Flossmoor (15-6)
4. Kenwood (11-10)
5. Brother Rice (16-9)
6. Thornwood (14-8)
7. Oak Lawn (18-6)
8. Sandburg (15-8)
9. Crete-Monee (14-9)
Analysis and breakdown: After seeding Simeon No. 1 and Marist No. 2 it becomes a little murky.
Homewood-Flossmoor has won five straight, including victories over Hillcrest, Lincoln-Way East, Sandburg and a 22-point win over Marshall. The Vikings are playing well and secure the No. 3 seed.
You could really split hairs over Kenwood and Brother Rice with the fourth and fifth seeds. But either way they are likely to play one another in a regional final anyway.
Kenwood’s record is deceiving. The Broncos, who have beaten Brother Rice and Thornwood, played a large chunk of its season without point guard Artese Stapleton, arguably their most important player. With Stapleton on the floor Kenwood is 8-2. Stapleton recently returned.
Brother Rice has played a quality schedule with some nice wins, including this past weekend’s eye-opening win over DePaul Prep in the Catholic League. The Crusaders have also had some clunkers. But this is without question a top five seed in this sectional.
Then the fight to stay out of the 8-9 game –– and a regional championship date with mighty Simeon –– begins with a plethora of teams with similar records and résumés, including Sandburg, Thornwood, Crete-Monee, Thornton, Shepard, Bloom, Hubbard, T.F. North and Oak Lawn. They will all be trying to scratch their way into the No. 6 and No. 7 spots –– or be fine with a No. 10 or No. 11 seed. And it will be a mess trying to sort it out.
Thornwood has gone 7-2 since losing to Kenwood in early January. But the Thunderbirds have lost twice to Bloom. While Bloom has clearly played the toughest schedule of the teams fighting for the sixth and seventh seeds, the Blazing Trojans are just 10-10 on the season.
Crete-Monee, which beat Bloom last month, lacks the overall quality wins to secure a top seven seed and has lost to sectional foes Sandburg and Thornwood in the past month. That Sandburg defeat was a 20-point loss, so Crete-Monee falls out of contention for that sixth or seventh seed.
Despite not playing the toughest of schedules, Oak Lawn has won seven straight and has the best record of the bunch. The Spartans do own an early-season win over Sandburg, which helps their cause, beat Shepard in convincing fashion last week and lost to ranked Hillcrest by just one point in a good January measuring stick game.
Sandburg, a team that has done a nice job overachieving, has had some highs and lows this season. But the early-season loss to Oak Lawn hurts, along with stubbing its toe recently in a 46-28 loss to Stagg.
T.F North is 11-7 and beat Oak Lawn in December. But the overall résumé just isn’t there. Thornton is 12-9 and has beaten Thornwood but lost to Sandburg.
Are you dizzy yet?
In the end, the City/Suburban Hoops Report went with the teams with the overall win totals and who were winning now for the coveted sixth and seventh seeds. Thornwood has gone 7-2 and Oak Lawn, which proved a lot in its one-point loss to Hillcrest, has won seven straight.
1. Curie (23-3)
2. Young (22-6)
3. Fenwick (16-7)
4. Oak Park (19-5)
5. Proviso East (17-6)
6. St. Joseph (15-8)
7. Lincoln Park (15-9)
8. York (17-8)
9. Riverside-Brookfield (16-9)
Analysis and breakdown: Curie and Young are the top two seeds based on record, schedule strength and the fact they are the two most talented teams in the sectional. But then it gets a little more challenging figuring out the next three seeds as Oak Park, Fenwick and Proviso East could all jockey for positions three through five.
Oak Park’s best wins of the seasons came early in the season when the Huskies jumped out of the gate with a 9-0 record, including an early December victory over Fenwick. But Oak Park is just 5-3 the past few weeks, with losses to Wheaton South, Notre Dame and a 15-point defeat to Evanston, and are 8-5 since that 9-0 start.
Fenwick stumbled at Riverside-Brookfield last week. But it was Fenwick’s lone loss this season to an unranked team. The Friars have beaten Larkin, Bogan, St. Joseph, St. Rita and DePaul Prep.
It will be interesting to see if Fenwick gets the No. 3 seed. Coaches will look at the seven losses and compare it to the five losses both Oak Park and Proviso East have. And Oak Park did beat Fenwick two months ago, so there is a definite argument to be made for Oak Park at No. 3. And the fact there are way more public coaches than private coaches in this sectional won’t help Fenwick’s seed, either.
Fenwick has played the toughest schedule of the three and has the most quality wins, and in the eyes of the Hoops Report, if you put Fenwick on the floor with either Oak Park or Proviso East this week, Fenwick is the better team and wins those games.
Proviso East didn’t have a bad loss all season — until falling to an improved but still .500 Morton Tuesday night. All five losses have come to teams with at least 17 wins on the year and have been ranked at some point. Proviso East’s biggest wins, however, came in consolation bracket play at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, beating New Trier and St. Joseph.
St. Joseph has had an up-and-down season, but the Chargers have played a competitive schedule and have beaten quality teams in Batavia, Homewood-Flossmoor, St. Charles East, Leo and a huge win over Loyola Tuesday night.
Lincoln Park is in a precarious position in a number of ways, including nine losses overall and five straight to end the regular season. The Lions also will have had either 18 or 19 days off without a game when they play their regional opener. But 15 wins and victories over Marian Catholic, St. Charles East, DePaul Prep and Whitney Young are enough to secure a top six seed.
We will pencil in York and Riverside-Brookfield with the 8-9 seeds. York has played a slightly tougher schedule and has beaten Jacobs, Hinsdale South and Wheaton South. R-B has won 10 of 12 and knocked off Fenwick last week.
Despite 19 wins Lane Tech simply doesn’t have a win to hang its hat on.
1. Larkin (18-7)
2. St. Charles East (16-8)
3. St. Charles North (14-10)
4. Jacobs (21-3)
5. South Elgin (15-10)
Analysis and breakdown: Larkin has the most talent and has played the toughest schedule. Larkin’s whole body of work is the best in this sectional.
The debate in the sectional is over Jacobs and the Upstate Eight River teams, St. Charles North and St. Charles East. Jacobs has the best record but the biggest wins on the schedule have come against Barrington and McHenry.
Jacobs lost to West Aurora; St. Charles East beat West Aurora. Plus, St. Charles East has played all season in the tough Upstate Eight River and faced St. Joseph, Lincoln Park, Rockford Auburn, Maine South and West Aurora in non-conference play.
St. Charles North, which lost to St. Charles East in its most recent rivalry matchup, has also played a tougher schedule than Jacobs.
Yes, wins do matter, and it’s clear 20 Jacobs victories is significantly better than St. Charles North’s 13 wins. And Jacobs, which is currently playing without its top player, injured Ryan Phillips, is capable of beating any team in this sectional when healthy. But St. Charles North has beaten Bogan, Benet, Batavia and St. Charles East while playing the likes of Simeon, Bloomington, Rock Island and West Aurora in addition to its rugged Upstate Eight River slate with the likes of Geneva and Larkin.
1. Rockford Jefferson (20-6)
2. Rockford East (18-9)
3. McHenry (17-8)
4. Rockton-Hononegah (18-8)
5. Rockford Auburn (15-10)
Analysis and breakdown: These teams all have similar win totals and many have faced one another this season.
On paper, Rockford Jefferson is the most talented team in this sub-sectional and has the most wins. The J-Hawks also own wins over Larkin and St. Rita and are a combined 5-1 this season against East, Hononegah and Auburn.
Rockford East, which has a nice non-conference win over Maine South and has faced Young and Larkin, has beaten both Auburn and Hononegah.
It was way back in November but McHenry did beat Hononegah 42-40, while Hononegah just recently knocked off Auburn by 25 points.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport