Can anyone stop the stars from aligning in the Class 4A semifinals in Peoria? With the way Friday's sectional championships played out, it certainly doesn't appear that is going to happen.
Four of the state's top players look like they could be headed to Peoria after supersectionals as Jahlil Okafor and Whitney Young, Jalen Brunson and Stevenson, Tyler Ulis and Marian Catholic and Sean O'Mara and Benet are all favored to win on Tuesday.
Okafor has the Dolphins rolling right now. The senior center and Duke commit destroyed St. Rita down low to the tune of 35 points — on 11-for-13 shooting from the field — and 13 rebounds in Friday night's Marist Sectional title game. In the Chicago State Supersectional on Tuesday, Loyola will have a tough time slowing down Okafor, as it doesn't have the size or strength to contain the Dolphins on the interior. Since Curie went down to DuSable in the regional semifinals at King, Whitney Young has taken over as the favorite in Class 4A because of Okafor.
Stevenson also keeps rolling through Class 4A. The No. 1 Patriots were very impressive in Friday night's Lake Zurich Sectional title win over previously-unbeaten Fremd. Brunson, a junior point guard, had another monster outing, going for 27 points with Villanova head coach Jay Wright and Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey taking in the action from the stands. Stevenson should be heavily favored over Rockford Auburn in the DeKalb Supersectional on Tuesday.
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Homewood-Flossmoor was hoping a turf toe injury would slow down Ulis, Marian Catholic's senior point guard and a Kentucky commit, but that wasn't the case on Friday. Ulis led the No. 2 Spartans with 25 points as Marian Catholic beat the Vikings for the second time this season in the Thornton Sectional title game. The Spartans will be favored as well on Tuesday when they get another crack at Edwardsville in the Normal Supersectional. Marian Catholic was eliminated by them in the same game last season.
O'Mara and No. 8 Benet proved their No. 1 sectional seed to be correct as they got through the East Aurora Sectional with a Friday win over Geneva. O'Mara, a senior center and Xavier commit, went for 24 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four blocks in helping the Redwings to a Tuesday supersectional contest against Glenbard North. The Panthers don't have the size to contain O'Mara down low, and Benet should be able to advance to Peoria as long as it gets him the ball.
With those four star players leading four great teams, the Class 4A field looks like it could be potentially loaded this weekend in Peoria. Tuesday's supersectional games should be good, however, and we'll have more on those games Tuesday.
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Rematches dominate Class 3A
Only four teams from the area remain in Class 3A, and they are very familiar with each other.
When No. 5 Morgan Park and No. 6 Bogan lock horns in Joliet on Tuesday, it'll be the fourth meeting of the season between the teams. The Bengals, as you might recall, won the Public League Red-South by sweeping Morgan Park during the regular season, but the Mustangs got the better of Bogan in a tournament setting in the semifinals of the Proviso West Holiday Tournament.
Can red-hot Luwane Pipkins lead Bogan to three wins over Morgan Park? After the junior scored 32 points against Hyde Park on Friday on the Vocational Sectional title game, he'll be the main focus of the Morgan Park defense. The Mustangs, meanwhile, will look to repeat in Class 3A after winning the title last season. Their balanced attack is rolling through the playoffs thus far.
The winner of that contest will meet the winner of Tuesday's supersectional rematch at Hoffman Estates between No. 4 Orr and No. 7 North Chicago. Orr topped the Warhawks last season to get to Peoria, and many of the same players that were on the floor for the game will be again in this one.
North Chicago won its fourth consecutive sectional title on Friday, defeating Carmel in the Antioch Sectional title game. Meanwhile, Orr overcame the loss of senior forward Tyquone Greer to throttle a good Fenwick team on Friday night at the Westinghouse Sectional final. Both teams have improved quite a bit since last year's game, and it should be one of the better supersectionals in the state on Tuesday.
We'll have complete previews of each Class 3A and 4A supersectional coming up Tuesday on CSNChicago.com.