Sectionals loaded with plot linesDonald Moore, of Bloom, gets the easy lay-up against of Marian Catholic at the McDipper at Rich South, Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 in Richton Park, IL. l Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 5, 2012 6:53PM
Man, did the March Madness party get a lot smaller in a matter of eight days.
What began as a soiree featuring 40 local teams has dissolved into an intimate nine-team sectional celebration.
Make no mistake, regional competition left us breathless on many occasions. In the end, though, the top three seeds in the Class 4A Lockport Sectional — Bloom, Andrew and Homewood-Flossmoor — survived various upset bids. Then there’s 13th-seeded Thornton, which, as a play-in game participant, was required to win three times to claim the regional crown.
At the Argo Sectional, the lone local representative remaining is Marist, which avoided archrival Brother Rice’s take-down efforts, then upset second-seeded Curie. It doesn’t get any easier for the RedHawks, not with a Wednesday meeting against No. 3 Bogan and a potential sectional title tilt vs.
No. 1 Simeon.
In 3A, Rich East will play sectional host to Hillcrest vs. Providence on Tuesday and Rich South vs. Morgan Park on Wednesday.
The real question is: Which of the nine local teams will be left standing a week from now, when supersectional competition takes place?
Regardless, the Southland will have a team represented in the Class 3A Joliet Central Supersectional and the Class 4A Normal Supersectional. Both take place March 13.
There is no such certainty in the Chicago State Supersectional, where the winner of the Argo Sectional, most likely Simeon, advances.
Let’s break down play at the three local sectional sites: Rich East, Lockport and Argo.
At 3A Rich East, Providence vs. Hillcrest represents David vs. Goliath. The Hawks have as much depth as anyone. Case in point, Friday’s win over Brooks. Virgil Fleming (20 points), Jayon’e Troutman (18), Jovan Mooring (18) and Jalen Loving (15) all reached double digits. Providence must produce its best defensive effort, while at the same time conquering the Hawks’ 1-1-3 defensive trap. Kevin Kozan, Mike Marietti and Miles Boykin produced huge performances during an upset of Lemont. Can the No. 5 Celtics derail the Hawks?
Stranger things have happened.
On Wednesday, Rich South takes on Morgan Park. The Stars claimed the regional title despite the absence of John Ruffin, their leading scorer and rebounder. Props to Ralph Abraham, Marquell Small and Cedric Russell for picking up the slack. However, I don’t see the Stars surviving Morgan Park without Ruffin, whose bad back will make him a game-time decision.
Morgan Park is loaded, but the sectional remains Hillcrest’s to lose.
At 4A Lockport, tradition-rich foes Bloom and Thornton get it on Tuesday. We’re talking hundreds of years of tradition between the two proud programs. Bloom, despite its top seed and the trio of Donald Moore, L.J. Johnson and Johnny Griffins, can ill-afford to look past surging Thornton. Edward Buie and Marcus Ford are playing their best ball right now. I just don’t think it’s enough to upset Bloom.
Wednesday’s tilt between Andrew and H-F is intriguing — only if the Vikings don’t play up to their potential. The Thunderbolts won their first regional title since 1990 and just the second in the program’s history. H-F’s heralded senior class, which earned consecutive preseason No. 1 rankings from this publication, has failed to advance beyond sectional play. If H-F plays to its potential, it will beat Andrew by double digits and then pay back Bloom for two earlier defeats. But Andrew, behind Jubril Adekoya, can’t be taken lightly. H-F has the size and experience to limit Adekoya’s exploits on offense. It will be imperative others, namely, Glorind Lisha, Jawad Adekoya and Mike Bobek, step up for Andrew.
At Argo, I can see Marist, whose Big Three — Lexus Williams, L.J. McIntosh and Nic Weishar — have authored late-game magic all season, disposing of Bogan. Simeon, however, is a completely different beast.
Tuesday’s Class 2A Joliet Central Supersectional between Seton and Providence-St. Mel will see the Sting, behind Mark Weems Jr., advancing to the Final Four.