Geneva wasn’t exactly handsomely rewarded for one of its best seasons in recent years when it came to postseason seeding, which was unveiled by the IHSA late last week.
The Vikings (17-7) were given the 12 seed out of 23 teams in the Class 4A Bolingbrook Sectional, which means Geneva must deal with highly regarded Hinsdale Central in a regional semifinal if it wins a first-round game against regional host Wheaton Warrenville South when the postseason tips later this month.
Vikings coach Phil Ralston, though, didn’t complain when the subject came up after his team scored one of its most impressive wins of the season Saturday against St. Viator. That win, along with Friday’s 20-point loss against Larkin, were too late to affect Geneva’s seeding.
“I think if you’re looking from where I’m sitting, it didn’t matter where you got seeded,” Ralston said. “We got a play-in game, maybe that gets us ready for that regional semifinal. That’s the way I kind of look at it because, if I’m a 5 seed looking at us and knowing we just knocked off St. Viator, I’m thinking ‘Great, we get the 5 seed, and I’m rewarded with this?’
“And I think there are a lot of of teams in our sectional looking at it that way because getting a high seed doesn’t necessarily mean anything.”
St. Viator recently beat Benet, which is seeded second out 23 teams in the Bolingbrook Sectional.
Meanwhile, in the DeKalb Sectional, St. Charles East and St. Charles North are on a potential crash course to meet in a regional semifinal for the second straight season. For that to happen, third-seeded North would have to defeat sixth-seeded South Elgin in an opening round, play-in game.
East coach Pat Woods attempted a mock bracket for the regional and said he was proven “right on.” An East-North regional semifinal would be the crosstown foes’ fourth meeting of the season (East has won two of three), but Woods said he’s just glad the Saints seem to be on the right path.. The Saints scored back-to-back, double-digit conference wins Friday against Streamwood and Saturday against Batavia.
“I think a lot of people thought once we lost [Purdue-bound guard] Kendall [Stephens], we wouldn’t be as competitive or we’d struggle more, and I think we went though a small period of that week where we did, but I think we’re finding our groove now,” Woods said. “We always talk about peaking at the right time and I think we still have our best basketball ahead of us, and I think we’re hitting a pretty good stride right now.”
Batavia senior forward Zach Strittmatter has played with a protective mask for the past week and will have to wear it for the rest of the season, according to Bulldogs coach Jim Nazos.
Strittmatter recently aggravated a slight fracture in his nose that he originally suffered in December, Nazos said.
In Batavia’s 57-28 loss to St. Charles East on Saturday night, Strittmatter went scoreless, but he was also wearing the mask the night before when he led the Bulldogs with 15 points and 11 rebounds in a win against Elgin.
“He’s somebody who’s a big part of what we want to do,” Nazos said after the loss at East, one of the Bulldogs’ worst outings of the season. “I think he’s someone who’s going to play well for us here. There’s a lot of guys in [the Batavia locker room], if you were to talk, that would probably say ‘I could do a little bit better here tonight,’ including me.”
Eagles finding their form
Before his team earned wins Friday against Marmion and Saturday against St. Edward, Aurora Christian coach Pat McNamara bemoaned what he called a “one step forward, two step back kind of season so far.”
The outlook for the Eagles might be brightening in light of their most recent performances, including Saturday’s 83-44 thrashing of a St. Ed team the Eagles lost to early this season.
One of the reason’s for Aurora Christian’s uptick has been the recent return of starter Ryan McQuade from a knee injury that sidelined him for about two weeks.
“Ryan does a lot of things for us,” McNamara said. “He plugs up the middle for us. He’s a really good shooter. He and [Johnathan] Harrell are our best shooters, especially against zone defense, and he’s one of our leaders.”
The Eagles begin postseason play a week before the area’s larger schools, starting out next Monday with an IHSA Class 2A Westmont Regional opener against Somonauk.
– Jay Schwab, email@example.com
IN THE GROOVE
WHEATON ACADEMY, SR., G
What he did: Roy exploded for 29 points on Saturday to lead Wheaton Academy to a comfortable, 66-46 win against Kaneland.
BURLINGTON CENTRAL IN BNC East playWhat the Rockets did: Burlington Central continued to put its best face forward during conference play, snaring a key Big Northern Conference East win Friday against Richmond-Burton, 69-65. The first-place Rockets are 8-1 in BNC East games and 2-12 in the nonconference.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK ...
There will be no down-to-the-wire race for the Upstate Eight Conference River championship this season.
Larkin locked down the outright UEC River title in emphatic fashion Friday, defeating host Geneva, 72-52.
The Royals finished River play with a 10-2 conference record, and every other team has three or more conference losses with at least one game still to play.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD ...
Whether Kaneland can stop its skid.
Regardless of how tonight’s nonconference game at St. Charles North plays out, the Knights, who have lost three straight games, have a key Northern Illinois Big 12 East test Friday at Morris.
The Knights missed a chance to clinch at least a share of the title Friday against DeKalb.
COACH SLY SEZ ...
Looked like the Kaneland boys had the Northern Illinois Big 12 East by the throat. Maybe not.
The Knights still have a good chance to tie or win the conference outright but they sure didn’t do themselves any favors by losing to a down-in-the-dumps DeKalb team Friday, at home no less.
The Knights might well have to win one of their last two conference games, both on the road against decent teams (Morris and Rochelle), to win the conference.
Kaneland has struggled to score points for much of the season, which gives a team a pretty thin margin for error when it comes to defense, rebounding and tracking down loose balls. So the Knights got bit by the Barbs, giving some of the other teams in the conference new life.
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