We've made it to the sectional finals and Friday's IHSA state playoff action will feature a tremendous slate of games.
Whitney Young and St. Rita will face each other in a tremendous matchup in the Class 4A Marist Sectional title game, while No. 1 Stevenson will face undefeated Fremd for the Lake Zurich Sectional title.
In Class 3A, defending champion Morgan Park will also be in action against Joliet Catholic, while Orr will look to continue its repeat march to Peoria as they take on a tough and talented Fenwick team.
Cameras will also be downstate at Carver Arena for the Class 1A and Class 2A boys basketball championships as Heyworth, Mooseheart, Sesser-Valier and Mendon Unity battle for the 1A title, and Bloomington Central Catholic, Providence-St. Mel, Nashville and Petersburg (PORTA) all fight for the 2A 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. You can catch the show on Saturday night at 12:30 a.m. after White Sox baseball. "High School Lites" will also air again at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning and, as always, the show is also streamed live at CSNChicago.com.
No. 2 Whitney Young vs. No. 4 St. Rita, 4A Sectional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
The Dolphins are the No. 3 team in the current CSN Preps Power Rankings, and they'll square off against No. 18 St. Rita in a game that features an unbelievable amount of talent. Whitney Young (25-5) is the favorite in Class 4A at this point because of the play of senior center and McDonald's All-American, Jahlil Okafor, but the Mustangs have plenty of size, length and athleticism to give Okafor problems. St. Rita (21-7) is led by Northwestern commit Vic Law and the Matthews brothers — senior Dominique and junior Kentucky commit Charles — and they'll match up with the Dolphins' Paul White, a Georgetown commit, and Miles Reynolds, a St. Louis commit, in what should be a great matchup on the wing. Whitney Young holds the edge in this one because their role players have stepped up in a big way in the month of March.
No. 2 Fremd vs. No. 1 Stevenson, 4A Lake Zurich Sectional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
This should be one of the best games of Friday night as No. 1 Stevenson faces unbeaten, No. 5 Fremd. The Patriots (29-1) still only have one loss on the season and they'll look to hand the Vikings (28-0) their first loss of the campaign. Fremd will likely look to keep the pace of the game on the slower side, as they held Highland Park to 27 points in the sectional semifinal win, but they'll likely have to keep pace and match baskets with Stevenson and red-hot junior point guard Jalen Brunson. Brunson went for 34 points in the sectional semifinal win over St. Viator and he's a matchup problem for pretty much every team that faces him on the high school level. Can Riley Glassmann, Ben Carlson and company keep pace with Stevenson? The Vikings have beaten St. Viator and Evanston during the season, so they can get baskets at a high-rate if they need to.
No. 2 Maine South vs. No. 1 Loyola, 4A Maine South Sectional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
This should be a tremendous matchup of well-coached teams as No. 20 Loyola takes on No. 21 Maine South. Loyola (24-5) will be led by senior guards James Clarke, Kevin Kucera and Jack Morrissey as the trio can make plays on the perimeter as ball handlers, or knock in shots. Maine South (25-6) will try to counter with the inside play of junior forward George Sargeant, and they'll also be ready to go thanks to its homecourt advantage. The Ramblers might hold the advantage though as Maine South's perimeter defense is prone to lapses of poor play. The Hawks allowed Morgan Park's Kain Harris to knock down nine three-pointers at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament in December and Evanston rallied and forced overtime against Maine South on Wednesday thanks to seven fourth-quarter triples.
No. 1 Marian Catholic vs. No. 6 Homewood-Flossmoor, 4A Thornton Sectional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
This will be a matchup of inside vs. outside as No. 2 Marian Catholic (27-2) takes on unranked Homewood-Flossmoor. The Spartans knocked off the Vikings, 69-66, on November 27th, but Homewood-Flossmoor (17-11) is a much better team since then and they're led inside by senior center and UIC commit Tai Odiase. Odiase is a difference-maker on both ends of the floor, and the Vikings try to score by pounding the ball inside or scoring transition. Homewood-Flossmoor snapped Thornwood's 15-game winning streak on Wednesday despite not making a single three-pointer in the win. Marian Catholic, meanwhile, will take — and probably make — plenty of three-pointers thanks to McDonald's All-American point guard and Kentucky commit Tyler Ulis. But can the Spartans stop the Vikings on the interior? Marian Catholic probably holds the edge in this one thanks to its superior guard play and deeper rotation.
No. 6 Glenbard North vs. No. 4 Morton, 4A Bartlett Sectional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
Another surprising sixth-seed to make a sectional final is No. 25 Glenbard North, who will take on No. 14 Morton on Friday in Bartlett. Glenbard North (23-5) didn't have many quality wins during the season, but they did take down West Aurora on the road in DuPage Valley Conference play as they're led by seniors Chip Flanigan and Jeremiah Fleming. Morton (22-5) is playing tremendous ball in the last few weeks and they're led by the dynamic duo of senior guard Greg Carter and junior forward Weisner Perez. The Mustangs haven't lost since January.
No. 4 South Elgin vs. No. 2 Rockford (Auburn), 4A Elgin Sectional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
Can the Cinderella run for No. 4 regional seed South Elgin continue? The Storm (18-14) have won four straight playoff games and Darius Wells is shooting the ball very well while point guard Matt Smith has been steady throughout the postseason. South Elgin will get the hometown edge over Rockford Auburn, but the No. 2 regional seed Knights are talented. Latwan Porter helps lead a balanced and talented Rockford Auburn (27-5) team that will be the heavy favorite in this one.
No. 1 Morgan Park vs. No. 4 Joliet Catholic, 3A Rich East Sectional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
Morgan Park will be the heavy favorite in this one as last year's Class 3A champions have far more talent, size and athleticism than Joliet Catholic. The No. 7 Mustangs (19-6) are led by senior forwards Josh Cunningham and Lamont Walker, while point guard Charlie Moore is one of the state's better sophomores. Joliet Catholic (12-20) will be the heavy underdog, but they've beaten higher seeds in three of its four playoff wins to reach this point.
No. 3 Fenwick vs. No. 1 Orr, 3A Westinghouse Sectional Championship, 7:00 p.m.
The No. 11 Friars (22-8) get another crack at No. 4 Orr (23-4) after falling to the Spartans in last season's Riverside-Brookfield Sectional semifinal. Fenwick is playing really good ball since Northwestern commit Scott Lindsey returned to the lineup as Fenwick has won seven of its last eight games. Orr, meanwhile, will look to move on after the loss of senior forward Tyquone Greer — who was shot in the leg during a house party on Saturday and will be out for the remainder of the season — but the Spartans still have plenty of depth. Senior guard Lou Adams Jr., is a talented and athletic guard while Marlon Jones is one of the best interior players in the Class 3A field.