Traditional seeding meetings where all of the coaches got in a room and stated their cases for top seedings are a thing of the past.
That’s probably a good thing, because there might be some lengthy arguments about how to stack up the Class 4A Bolingbrook Sectional.
Four boys basketball teams – Bolingbrook, Joliet West, Lincoln-Way East, Oswego East – seem to be separating themselves from the rest of the 18-team grouping, and each likely will earn the top seed in each of the four regional sites (East Aurora, Joliet West, Lockport and West Aurora).
But how do you rank the top four teams in order?
Lincoln-Way East has the best record of the group at 18-2, but one of those two losses is a recent one to Bolingbrook. And although Bolingbrook has six losses (all to quality teams), it is the only team that is undefeated against the teams in this group, as the Raiders also toppled Oswego East in the same week they bested Lincoln-Way East.
Joliet West, the team in this quartet that has garnered the most acclaim, actually doesn’t have a win over any of the four teams. It does not play Bolingbrook or Lincoln-Way East and lost to Oswego East on Jan. 3.
That doesn’t necessarily keep the Tigers out of consideration for the top seed, as wins over some of the state’s top teams such as St. Rita, Rolling Meadows and Whitney Young more than prove the Tigers’ mettle.
“It makes a sectional that much more exciting,” Joliet West coach Jeremy Kreiger said after his team’s loss to Oswego East. “It’s just that much more open when you think about [Oswego East], us, Lincoln-Way East, Bolingbrook and Neuqua Valley out there.
“It’s gonna be exciting. It’s going to be fun.”
Krieger mentioned one of the teams that likely falls in the second tier of the loaded sectional grouping – Neuqua Valley. Neuqua, along with Romeoville, Plainfield North and West Aurora, make up the second group of teams that find themselves well above the .500 mark. All almost certainly would find themselves in the mix for top billing in a regional if they were placed anywhere other than the loaded bracket they find themselves in.
Teams have a little more than two weeks to make their final cases, with the seeding deadline set for Feb. 9. Full brackets will be released the following day.
McDonald’s All-America nominees
Three local players were among 11 Illinois players nominated for the McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball Game.
Joliet West’s Jeremy Fears Jr. along with Bolingbrook’s Donaven Younger and Mekhi Cooper were selected to be considered for the game, which will feature 24 of the nation’s top high school players March 28 in Houston.
The teams will be announced on Tuesday’s ESPN broadcast of NBA Today.
Other nominated players from Illinois are Evan Jackson of De La Salle, Mekhi Lowery of Oswego East, Darrion Baker and Bryce Tillery of Hillcrest, David Douglas Jr. of Yorkville Christian, Cameron Christie of Rolling Meadows, Darrin Ames of Kenwood and Keyonte Sykes of Legal Prep.
Fears Jr. seems to have a reasonably good chance of being the representative from Illinois, if one is granted to an Illinois player.
Fears Jr., a Michigan State commit, recently moved up to the No. 20 spot on ESPN’s Top 100 players from the Class of 2023. He is the highest ranked player from Illinois on the list and is one of two players from Illinois to be included (Ames of Kenwood is No. 79).
Several coaches have hit victory milestones over the course of the season.
• Peotone coach Ron Oloffson earned the 600th victory of his 38-year coaching career with a win over Clifton Central in the opening round of the Kankakee Holiday Tournament. Oloffson is in his second season at Peotone and amassed the majority of those victories during a 28-season stint at Herscher. He is one of only 12 active boys coaches in the state who has reached the 600-win plateau.
• Morris coach Joe Blumberg joined the 200-win club with his team’s victory over Ottawa. Blumberg has amassed all of his wins at Morris over a 16-year period, which includes three regional titles.
• Lockport’s Brett Hespell claimed his 100th career victory with a win over Naperville Central on Jan. 7. Hespell is in his eighth season leading the Porters.