Joe Henricksen’s City/Suburban Hoops ReportSt. Charles East's Kendall Stephens (21) is tangled up by Elgin's Arie Williams (10) and Elgin's Matt Andres (behind) during the second quarter of their game at Elgin High School in Elgin Friday. February 11, 2011. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 12, 2012 6:14PM
City: March madness
The rumblings coming out of the city following the IHSA’s release of sectional assignments last week were loud. Whether it’s a West Side or South Side power, private or public, all the top 4A teams are lumped together in one big, bad sectional. Simeon and Whitney Young, the two most talented teams in the state, will be joined by a surplus of ranked teams. A seemingly-endless list of talented teams, including De La Salle, Curie, Hyde Park, Bogan, Marist, St. Rita and Brother Rice, will be fighting for seed position over the next two months.
West: Sophomore sensations
While the talk about underclassmen in the western suburbs includes a surplus of talented guards, including juniors Kendall Stephens of St. Charles East, Jared Brownridge of Waubonsie Valley, David Cohn of York and Quinten Payne of St. Charles North, the sophomore class offers up some intriguing prospects with size. Benet’s 6-9 Sean O’Mara is among the top 15 prospects in the Class of 2014, while Naperville Central’s 6-7 Nick Czarnowski is on the rise after an impressive freshman year and starting this season averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds a game.
South: Cats down
Troy Jackson took over the tradition-rich Thornton program in 2003. And since that time, 20-plus win seasons have been like clockwork for Jackson, whose teams have averaged 24 wins a year during those eight consecutive 20-plus wins seasons. The impressive run, which has included eight straight regional titles, four sectional championships and three trips to state, will likely come to an abrupt end this winter as Thornton is off to a 1-5 start. Jackson’s club will still be competitive and likely better than it has showed, but the talent level has clearly fallen off.
North: ND surprises
Niles Notre Dame lost all five starters from a 23-win, regional championship team, so an encore season wasn’t expected. The inexperienced but talented Dons have played a top-notch schedule and survived, battling Simeon in a loss and picking up eye-opening wins over Crete-Monee and Marist. The fact Notre Dame (9-2) has emerged as the favorite in the East Suburban Catholic says a lot about the job coach Tom Les has done with this program. Little-known junior guard Matt Mooney has become a surprise catalyst for a team with young talent, including sophs Jon Johnson and Duante Stephens.