We've made it to March and all four classes of the boys basketball state playoffs are in full swing as Friday marks regional finals in Class 3A and 4A and sectional finals in Class 1A and 2A.
We'll have a number of tremendous matchups on tap including a battle of top-15 teams in the CSN Preps Power Rankings as No. 7 Zion-Benton and No. 13 St. Viator vie for a regional title in Class 4A at Rolling Meadows and No. 9 Morgan Park and No. 20 Hillcrest compete for a regional title in Class 3A in the Thornridge Regional.
[RELATED: Breaking down the Class 4A playoffs]
Cameras will also be downstate at Redbird Arena for the Class 3A and Class 4A girls basketball championships as Burlington Central, Montini, Joliet Catholic and Quincy Notre Dame battle for the 3A title and Geneva, Rolling Meadows, Whitney Young and Marian Catholic all fight for the 4A title.
Comcast SportsNet will have cameras across Chicagoland on Friday filming for this week's edition of "High School Lites," but the show will air on a new night for the rest of the basketball season as you can now find "High School Lites" at 11 p.m. on Saturday nights. As always, the show is also streamed live at CSNChicago.com.
No. 2 Whitney Young vs. No. 7 De La Salle, 4A Whitney Young Regional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
With Curie falling to DuSable in King Regional, No. 4 Whitney Young (23-5) becomes the clear favorite to win the Marist Sectional and with Jahlil Okafor in the middle, they're probably the favorite to win the Class 4A state title at this point. But first the Dolphins need to get past No. 25 De La Salle (13-10), who is coming off of a tremendous run in the Catholic League Tournament as they knocked off Loyola, Fenwick and Mount Carmel. Juniors Martez Cameron, Karl Harris and Brandon Hutton are all talented enough to hang with Whitney Young, but how will they stop Okafor?
No. 2 Fremd vs. No. 7 Lake Zurich, 4A Hersey Regional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
The unbeaten No. 6 Fremd Vikings (26-0) continue to hum along as they face Lake Zurich with a chance for a regional title. Riley Glassmann and Ben Carlson have done a great job as the senior leaders of a balanced Fremd team while Lake Zurich will counter with junior Mike Travlos, who is probably one of the more underrated players in the North suburbs. Travlos went for 27 in the Bears' win over No. 10 seed Prospect and he gives No. 7 seed Lake Zurich (19-12) a chance in this one if he can get hot.
No. 4 Zion-Benton vs. No. 5 St. Viator, 4A Rolling Meadows Regional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
What a tremendous matchup for a regional title in this one as No. 7 Zion-Benton (26-3) takes on No. 13 St. Viator (24-5) in a matchup of two teams that have been ranked all season in our CSN Preps Power Rankings. Zion-Benton hasn't picked up a major victory since defeating Stevenson on January 10th and they've had some recent close calls against inferior competition thanks to the Zee-Bees propensity to take bad shots and turn the ball over. That could cost them against a talented St. Viator team, which has recently knocked off Mount Carmel on the road and owns close losses to Lake Forest and Loyola.
No. 2 Thornwood vs. No. 7 Oak Forest, 4A Eisenhower Regional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
Can Thornwood (22-4) continue its winning ways? The No. 12 Thunderbirds have won 14 consecutive games and Thornwood hopes its hot-shooting ways can continue against Oak Forest (22-5). The Bengals hope that 6-foot-9 junior Kyle Flanagan can make a big difference for them inside as Thornwood could have problems containing his size.
No. 14 Lake Park vs. No. 6 Glenbard North, 4A Leyden Regional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
After Lake Park's upset of No. 3 seed Oak Park-River Forest, the Lancers will look to continue its winning ways against Glenbard North. Glenbard North (21-5) had a solid year in the DuPage Valley and had to get past the red-hot senior swingman John Konchar and West Chicago in the opening round but they're led by Chip Flanigan and Jeremiah Fleming. Lake Park (16-12) has some nice momentum following the win over the Huskies and Sean Moore lead them in that one with 12 points.
No. 4 Hinsdale Central vs. No. 5 Naperville Central, 4A Naperville Central Regional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
The No. 21 Red Devils have won seven consecutive games and they'll face an interesting test when they face No. 5 Naperville Central. Hinsdale Central (22-6) is playing with a lot of confidence and they won recent tough games over York and Proviso East while Naperville Central (19-7) contended in the DuPage Valley and owns a really solid road win over West Aurora. The matchup inside between Hinsdale Central junior Matt Rafferty and Naperville Central senior Nick Czarnowski should be a good one.
No. 3 Bolingbrook vs. No. 6 Geneva, 4A Plainfield East Regional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
A really intriguing regional matchup of former CSN Preps Power Rankings teams as Bolingbrook and Geneva collide. The Raiders (21-5) are deep and talented, but they have yet to beat a ranked opponent this season while Geneva (22-5) hasn't won a regional title since 1986. Bolingbrook junior guard Prentiss Nixon and Geneva junior forward Nate Navigato could stage a fun scoring battle in this one if both of them get rolling.
No. 18 DuSable vs. No. 8 King, 4A King Regional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
Nobody could have predicted that this would be the regional final being played at King. Even without Joseph and Joshua Stamps in the lineup, No. 1 Curie losing to No. 18 DuSable was the near-equivalent of a 16-seed losing to a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament's first round. Now the Panthers (11-11) will look to capitalize on a shot at back-to-back regional titles when they face King. The Jaguars and DuSable split its two Red-Central games during the season and King (20-8) will look to win the rubber match at home like they did back in December.
No. 1 Morgan Park vs. No. 2 Hillcrest, 3A Thornridge Regional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
The top two regional seeds collide as this will be the top regional championship in the south burbs on Friday night. The No. 9 Mustangs (17-6) and No. 20 Hillcrest (20-6) have met in the playoffs the the last four years in Class 3A and although this game should be later down the line in the playoffs, we'll have to settle for it being played on Friday night. Seniors Josh Cunningham and Lamont Walker lead the Mustangs, who are looking to repeat in Class 3A, while Hillcrest has a really nice junior duo in 6-foot-8 Taylor Adway and wing DeAngelo Isby and the Hawks have won 15 straight games.
No. 1 Clark vs. No. 1 Providence-St. Mel, 2A Guerin Sectional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
Two regional No. 1 seeds collide for a sectional title as Clark (15-12) and Providence-St. Mel (21-6) collide at Guerin. Clark finished second in the Public League Blue-West but they get a shot at upsetting heavily favored Providence-St. Mel, who has Class 2A state title aspirations. Providence-St. Mel will rely on point guard Tevin King, scoring guard Bernard Lilly Jr., and Josh McNeal, who has emerged with some strong play lately.