NewsTribune boys basketball regional preview

Fieldcrest, Earlville enter postseason with record number of wins

Members of the Fieldcrest boys basketball team (from left) Nathan Cook, Jozia Johnson and Jordan Heider react after defeating L-P during the 49th annual Colmone Classic on Friday, Dec. 8, 2023 at Hall High School.

The boys basketball postseason starts Monday with regional quarterfinals. Below is a look at all the regionals involving area teams.

Class 3A

Sterling Regional

Schedule

Wednesday: No. 2 Sterling (23-8) vs. No. 8 Ottawa (12-14), 6 p.m.; No. 3 Dixon (24-5) vs. No. 5 La Salle-Peru (22-8), 7:30 p.m.

Friday: Title game, 7 p.m.

Worth noting: The regional features three teams with 22 or more wins. The Cavaliers have won 20 games for just the third time since hall of fame coach Chips Giovanine’s tenure ended in 1993. “I think it’s going to be really tough,” L-P coach John Senica said. “There are a lot of good teams there.” L-P and Dixon have not played each other but have some common opponents in Rochelle, Sycamore and Plano. The Dukes beat Rochelle 82-47, Sycamore 57-53 in overtime and Plano 57-44; while the Cavs beat Plano 57-41, split with Sycamore (57-53 loss, 63-38 win) and swept Rochelle (76-69 and 72-51). Dixon junior Darius Harrington surpassed 1,000 career points and set the Dukes’ single-season scoring record in the regular-season finale. L-P heads into the regional having won six of its past seven games, with the lone loss coming at Morris (63-58). “I think we’ve been playing very well,” Senica said. “The Morris game, that was just one of those games where things just didn’t go our direction. Other than that, I think we’ve been playing very well. The four, five games before that, the team was really clicking on all cylinders.” L-P beat regional host Sterling 77-61 on Feb. 10. The Cavaliers are looking for their first regional title since winning back-to-back titles in 2015-16. The Dukes last won a regional in 2019, while the Golden Warriors won a regional last season.

Next: The winner advances to the Pontiac Sectional to play the winner of the Geneseo Regional.

LaSalle-Peru's Josh Senica (21) drives the baseline against Mendota’s Braiden Freeman (12) during a first round game in the 60th annual Plano Christmas Basketball Tournament at Plano High School on Wednesday, Dec 27, 2023.

Class 2A

Hall Regional

Schedule

Monday: No. 9 Mendota (13-18) at No. 7 Hall (11-15), 6 p.m.; No. 11 Aurora Central Catholic (13-17) at No. 6 Sandwich (16-12), 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: No. 2 Seneca (22-9) vs. Hall/Mendota winner, 6 p.m.; No. 3 Riverdale (20-8) vs. Sandwich/ACC winner, 7:30 p.m.

Friday: Title game, 6 p.m.

Worth noting: The Red Devils and Trojans have had three competitive games against each other this season, with Hall winning two of three. Hall beat Mendota 61-53 in the Seneca Turkey Tournament, Mendota won 52-49 on Dec. 12, and Hall won 66-62 on Jan. 23. The Red Devils lost 52-32 to Seneca in the second game of the season at Seneca’s tournament, while the Trojans have not faced the Irish. Hall enters the postseason on a five-game losing streak, while Mendota is 4-6 in its past 10 games. Isaiah Nanez scored his 1,000th career point in the Trojans’ 59-32 win over Putnam County in the regular-season finale, the 19th player in program history to reach the milestone. Aden Tillman and Cale Strouss also have been key contributors for Mendota. Paxton Giertz, who has more than 1,500 career points and is third on Seneca’s career scoring list, leads the 21-win Irish. Seneca has won more than 20 games for the third straight season but is looking for its first regional title since 2017-18. Riverdale is looking to repeat as regional champions.

Next: The winner moves to the Mendota Sectional to play the winner of the Genoa-Kingston Regional.

Prophetstown Regional

Schedule

Monday: No. 10 Morrison (11-16) at No. 8 Oregon (16-15), No. 12 Erie-Prophetstown (3-21) at No. 5 Bureau Valley (15-16), 7 p.m.

Wednesday: No. 1 Rock Falls (19-10) vs. Oregon/Morrison winner, 6 p.m.; No. 4 Princeton (14-15) vs. BV/E-P winner, 7:30 p.m.

Friday: Title game, 7 p.m.

Worth noting: Thursday’s game between Rock Falls and Princeton at Princeton was a potential regional final preview, with the Rockets winning 70-59. “We have to win Wednesday before we can play Friday,” PHS coach Jason Smith said. “Regionals are always tough. No one wants to go home, and so that means anything can happen when you have teams play hard against each other.” To get a chance for a third straight regional title, the Tigers face a probable showdown against rival Bureau Valley. Princeton and BV split the season series with the Tigers winning 70-44 the second time around. The Storm dropped its last three and six of their last eight. Their last two losses came by an average of 36 points to Byron, which is state-ranked, and Sherrard. They look to rebound against E-P in quarterfinal play at the Storm Cellar. The Storm beat the Panthers 46-38 on Nov. 28. BV coach Jason Marquis said the field is “a bunch of teams nobody wants to face.” Like the Tigers, the Rockets also are a defending regional champion.

Next: The winner advances to the Mendota Sectional to play the winner of the Winnebago Regional.

Bishop McNamara Regional

Schedule

Monday: No. 11 Momence (8-15) at No. 10 Herscher (7-22), 7 p.m.

Wednesday: No. 1 Fieldcrest (30-1) vs. Herscher/Momence winner, 6 p.m.; No. 4 Bishop McNamara (19-8) vs. No. 6 Clifton Central (19-11), 7:30 p.m.

Friday: Title game, 7 p.m.

Worth noting: The Knights are rolling into the postseason after winning a program-record 30 games and finishing with a 12-0 record in the Heart of Illinois Conference. “I’m really proud of the guys,” Fieldcrest coach Jeremy Hahn said. “They’ve worked really hard all season. We knew we had an experienced team that had a chance to do some fun stuff this year, and we set goals accordingly. They’ve done an exceptional job of working through some stuff and meeting all challengers. We’ve played a good schedule, and our conference is always challenging. We’ve had a lot of great accomplishments this year.” The Knights have won 20 games in a row since their lone loss of the season to Rock Falls on the first day of the State Farm Holiday Classic on Dec. 27. Fieldcrest beat the Rockets 62-42 in the Colmone Classic final Dec. 9. The Knights are looking for their first regional title since winning three straight from 2018-20. “I think we’re playing pretty well,” Hahn said. “It’s always a process, and I think there’s still stuff we can try to iron out and improve, but I feel pretty good about where we’re at. We’re guarding exceptionally well and moving the ball, so I think that gives us a shot in any game we play.” Fieldcrest opens the postseason against the winner of Momence and Herscher, who combined have less than half the wins of the Knights. Bishop McNamara beat Clifton Central 78-51 on Dec. 15. The Fightin’ Irish, who won a regional title last year, also lost to Rock Falls (51-45) at the State Farm Holiday Classic.

Next: The winner moves to the Clifton Central Sectional to face the winner of the Manteno Regional.

Class 1A

Wethersfield Regional

Schedule

Monday: No. 11 LaMoille (7-22) at No. 6 Wethersfield (11-17), 6 p.m.; No. 10 St. Bede (11-20) at No. 9 Galva (9-19), 6:30 p.m.; No. 14 Amboy (4-26) at No. 2 Annawan (22-8), No. 12 DePue (7-21) at No. 3 Fulton (21-11), 7 p.m.

Wednesday: Semifinals, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.

Friday: Title game, 7 p.m.

Worth noting: St. Bede has played its best ball of the season, winning eight of its past 14. The Bruins’ opponent, Galva, is trending in the other direction, having lost two straight and 10 of its past 12. The Bruins would like to duplicate last year’s postseason magic when they upset top-seeded Marquette 61-57 in the regional semifinals. “Hopefully, we are up for the challenge. Last year proved anything can happen. One thing’s for sure. We’ll play hard,” Bruins coach Brian Hanson said. LaMoille enters the postseason on an eight-game skid. The Lions face a Wethersfield team coached by former St. Bede girls coach Tom McGunnigal. DePue, which has lost six of its past seven, will face a Fulton team that is winners of seven of its past nine and has posted its fourth straight season of 20-plus wins, excluding the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season. Top-seeded Annawan has hit a late-season skid, dropping four out of its past six.

Next: The winner goes to the River Ridge Sectional to play the winner of the Pecatonica Regional.

ROWVA REGIONAL

Schedule

Monday: No. 16 West Central (1-28) at No. 2 Peoria Christian (20-11), No. 10 AlWood (14-17) at No. 7 ROWVA (13-16), No. 14 Putnam County (7-23) at No. 3 Abingdon-Avon (18-13), No. 11 United (15-14) at No. 5 Stark County (18-11), 7 p.m.

Wednesday: Semifinals, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.

Friday: Title game, 7 p.m.

Worth noting: The Panthers will make the 180-mile round trip to open the postseason at Abingdon-Avon. While PC and the Tornadoes have not played, they have four common opponents in Stark County, Elmwood, Wethersfield and Annawan. The Panthers lost to Stark County 50-43, beat Elmwood 58-35, lost to Wethersfield 73-31 and lost to Annawan 43-39. Abingdon-Avon beat Stark County 43-42 and 39-28, beat Elmwood 44-40, lost to Wethersfield 47-42 and lost to Annawan 48-39.

Next: The winner advances to the Abingdon-Avon Sectional to play the winner of the Illini Bluffs Regional.

Aurora Christian Regional

Schedule

Monday: No. 9 Lombard College Prep (14-17) at No. 6 Hinckley-Big Rock (16-14), No. 13 Mooseheart (7-16) at No. 3 Earlville (26-4), No. 12 Gardner-South Wilmington (9-21) at No. 5 Yorkville Christian (13-17), 7 p.m.

Wednesday: No. 2 Aurora Christian vs. College Prep/HBR winner, 6 p.m.; Earlville/Miiseheart winner vs. Yorkville Christian/GSW winner, 7:30 p.m.

Friday: Title game, 7 p.m.

Worth noting: The Red Raiders are having the best season in school history, breaking the school record for wins that was set in 1937-38. Earlville suffered three of its losses in its past six games, including 56-53 to Midland in the regular-season finale.

Next: The winner moves on to the Harvest Christian Sectional to face the winner of the Rochelle Regional.

Brimfield Regional

Schedule

Monday: No. 12 Lowpoint-Washburn (18-12) at No. 6 Elmwood (13-14), 6 p.m.; No. 15 Roanoke-Benson (7-20) at No. 1 Princeville (25-5), No. 9 Brimfield (12-15) at No. 8 Midland (16-14), No. 13 Henry-Senachwine (10-17) at No. 4 Peoria Heights (16-13), 7 p.m.

Wednesday: Semifinals, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.

Friday: Title game, 7 p.m.

Worth noting: Henry opens the postseason with a rematch against Peoria Heights, to whom the Mallards lost 54-45 in the regular season finale. They also lost to the Patriots 63-47 on Dec. 28.

Next: The winner advances to Abingdon-Avon Sectional to play the winner of the Augusta Southeastern Regional.