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Henricksen: Inside look at state tourney sites for 2015

08/21/2014, 6:30am CDT
By Joe Henricksen | @joehoopsreport

Might Simeon and Young be apart in March? Could the best sectional be on the North Shore? A look at how Chicago area basketball sectionals will change this March.

The Illinois High School Association has put together a tentative list of regional and sectional basketball sites for the next three seasons.

Although the IHSA has regularly tweaked the sites and grouping of teams in the postseason, a quick glance reveals this is a big shuffling of the deck. There will be some major maneuvering of where and who many schools will be playing this coming March. 

Based on future regional and sectional hosts, there are a few things we already know, a few things we can assume and a few things we can anticipate. Here is some random analysis and forecasting based on a combination of fact, common sense, history and, yes, some guesswork. 

Where will Simeon land?

When analyzing the various sites, it’s not exactly crystal clear where the IHSA will send Simeon, the seven-time state champion and likely preseason No. 1 team this season. There are regional sites fairly close to Simeon in two different sectionals. But inquiring minds and 2015 hopefuls in both the city and south suburbs want to know.  

As it looks, the best guess is Simeon is headed south, which would mean playing in the Eisenhower Sectional in 2015, the Bloom Sectional in 2016 and the Thornwood Sectional in 2017. There are several regionals that feed into those sectionals over the next three years that are in close proximity to Simeon, including Reavis (7 miles), Oak Lawn (8 miles), Mt. Carmel (4.5 miles) and St. Rita (3 miles).

Young and Simeon separated?

While nothing is confirmed, by the look of this year’s sectionals and who plays host to regionals and sectionals in future years, it sure looks as if Chicago powers Simeon and Young –– the two programs have won the last six Class 4A state championships –– will be in different sectionals going forward. The two have knocked one another out in each of the past three seasons in sectional play. 

Young will be headed to the near-west suburbs, with the likes of Proviso East, Oak Park-River Forest and Morton. Young will host a regional in 2016 and 2017 among this group of teams. 

Geneva a geography winner

The Vikings are fresh off their first regional championship in over a quarter century, return star player and Division I recruit Nate Navigato and welcome a pair of transfers in 6-10 Chandler Fuzak and 6-7 junior Bennett Fuzak. Now Geneva will gladly venture out of the typically rugged and deep west suburban sectional, which has featured the likes of West Aurora, Benet Academy, Neuqua Valley and other upstart programs.

It’s not as if the DeKalb Sectional, which Geneva will now be a part of, will be a cakewalk. A loaded Rockford Auburn team will likely be there waiting, but there will be no comparison when it comes to overall depth between the DeKalb Sectional and the always strong East Aurora Sectional.

One year too late

If only Fremd had this route last season.

Fremd went unbeaten during the regular season a year ago and was awarded a No. 2 sectional seed, behind superpower Stevenson. The end result was a 15-point loss to Stevenson in the sectional final, finishing the season 28-1. This year the two will be in different sectionals. Fremd will host a regional in the Lake Zurich Sectional, while Stevenson will be hosting a regional in the Waukegan Sectional. 

Monster sectional taking shape on North Shore?

At first glance, the Lake Zurich Sectional, which featured Stevenson, St. Viator, Fremd and Highland Park last year, looks as if it could end up being one of the weaker 4A sectionals in the Chicago area this year. It appears the IHSA has re-configured the geography in the north suburbs. The Lake Zurich Sectional will have the Cary-Grove, Wheeling, Huntley and Bartlett regionals feeding into it in 2015.

With that in mind, it might mean a monster sectional in the north suburbs is on the horizon. That’s unfortunate news for last year’s sectional champ, Loyola Academy, and for the likes of Central Suburban League teams like Maine South and Evanston, who will now get Jalen Brunson and Company in sectional play. 

With Stevenson and Zion-Benton making the move to the Waukegan Sectional, might Lake Forest and Highland Park, two highly-regarded teams on the North Shore, be headed that way too to form a deep, super-charged sectional this March?

Who will play here?

The Bolingbrook Sectional assignments this winter will be interesting. That’s because it’s difficult to predict what 20 or so teams will be headed to the Bolingbrook Sectional with Lincoln-Way North, Yorkville, Romeoville and Joliet West playing host to the four regionals that feed into Bolingbrook. Could the Plainfield and Oswego schools be sent this way?

Provisos pulled apart

Proviso East and Proviso West are rivals. They are in the same school district. They are 4.5 miles apart. But they will be in different sectionals this March. 

After being sent out of its immediate area the past few years, winning the Schaumburg Sectional in 2012 and 2013 and playing in the Bartlett Sectional last season, Proviso East will return closer to home in the future. The Pirates will be facing near-west suburban teams and city foes in the Morton Sectional in 2015 and will host the sectional in 2016. 

Proviso West, meanwhile, will host a regional in 2015 that feeds into ... the East Aurora Sectional? That's a 30-mile trek between Aurora and Hillside, while Proviso East stays close to home. Very odd. 

Sectional shakeup

If there was one traditional sectional that appears to have really been shaken up going forward, it’s the East Aurora Sectional. It looks as if there are some very non-traditional teams, in terms of geography and rivalries, that will come together in this sectional.

By the look of future regional hosts in this sectional, teams like Proviso West, Lyons Twp. and Riverside-Brookfield will face East Aurora Sectional holdovers and a wide variety of teams from the new Upstate Eight (West Aurora, East Aurora, Glenbard East), the DuPage Valley (Naperville schools), a few West Suburban Conference schools (York and Glenbard West) and Benet Academy.

Change for the better coming in 3A?

Sadly, Hillcrest and Morgan Park met in a Class 3A regional final last March. It doesn’t appear that will happen again. Hillcrest will host a regional and feed into the Rich East Sectional in 2015.

While we’re not 100 percent sure where the IHSA will send Morgan Park, the Julian Sectional has several regional sites in close proximity to Morgan Park, including Brooks (3 miles), Evergreen Park (3 miles) and St. Laurence (8 miles). That would keep Morgan Park and Hillcrest from meeting in sectional play. 

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