It had to end at some point.
After four consecutive IHSA state titles, Robert Smith and the Simeon Wolverines finally lost in a state playoff game on Wednesday as No. 3 Whitney Young beat No. 6 Simeon, 72-64, in a sectional semifinal game at Marist. The loss for Simeon is their first playoff loss since March 2009, and ends their streak of titles at four, which tied Peoria Manual — who captured four consecutive titles from '94 to '97 — atop the state record books.
Simeon led 45-35 in the third quarter — and played their best 20 minutes of ball all season on Wednesday leading to that point — but it wasn't enough to overcome Jahlil Okafor and the Dolphins.
Simeon used a box-and-1 on Whitney Young senior guard Miles Reynolds on Wednesday, hoping to take away the Dolphins' best ball handler and perimeter scoring threat, but the move backfired because senior Erwin Henry and sophomore Rodney Herenten combined for 32 points — 16 each — as Okafor (19 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks) was often double-teamed and those two were left open.
After losing to Simeon the last two seasons in the Class 4A playoffs, Whitney Young finally can move past the Wolverines in March as Okafor, Reynolds and Paul White will face a stiff test against a talented St. Rita team to win the Marist Sectional on Friday. With Okafor in the middle — and the way the Dolphins' reserves have stepped up — Whitney Young has to be considered the favorite in Class 4A right now.
South Elgin continues Class 4A Cinderella run
Among the Super 16 left in Class 4A, 13 of those schools fall in the CSN Chicago coverage area. Only two of those 13 programs weren't ranked in our CSN Preps Power Rankings at all during the season and one of those programs is South Elgin.
At 18-14, South Elgin is making the biggest Cinderella run among the Class 4A field and the Storm continued on to the sectional final with a 71-66 win over Jacobs in the Elgin Sectional.
South Elgin now advances to face Rockford Auburn in the sectional title game at Elgin and they should have the homecourt advantage due to proximity.
[MORE -- CSN Preps Power Rankings: Week 15]
But the story of South Elgin took an interesting turn on Wednesday as the Storm won without head coach Matt Peterson. Peterson was suspended by the IHSA for the remainder of the playoffs on Tuesday as it was found that the Storm's Upstate Eight crossover contest had not been taken into account, and as a result, South Elgin had played too many games during the regular season.
Why the IHSA didn't find this — but found similar scheduling issues with Chicago Public Schools in Class 3A with Bogan, Hyde Park and Uplift — remains to be seen, but it just throws another twist into an already-intriguing storyline.
Without Peterson, South Elgin still got past Jacobs on Wednesday as Darius Wells scored 26 points and the Storm continued their hot shooting from the perimeter. Point guard Matt Smith is playing great ball for South Elgin and this team is confident enough to be an unlikely sectional champion in Class 4A after entering the playoffs with a 14-14 record.
Six-seeds rule Wednesday's Class 4A action
It was all about the No. 6 seeds on Wednesday night in Class 4A as a trio of them won to advance to sectional finals. No. 6 seeds Homewood-Flossmoor, Geneva and Glenbard North all won in minor upsets to advance to Friday.
Homewood-Flossmoor is perhaps the biggest surprise of the three. The Vikings haven't been ranked in our CSN Preps Power Rankings this season, but they've certainly been on our radar thanks to a daunting schedule and the play of senior center and UIC commit Tai Odiase. With Wednesday's win over No. 9 Thornwood — winners of 15 straight games — the Vikings made a statement that they'll give Marian Catholic a game in the sectional final at Thornton. I witnessed these two teams play back in November in a Marian Catholic home win at the Chicago Heights Classic, but this is a much tougher Homewood-Flossmoor team that is battle-tested and prepared since then.
Geneva, meanwhile, won its first sectional game since 1981 with a surprising East Aurora sectional semifinal win over No. 13 West Aurora. The No. 22 Vikings have been ranked in our CSN Preps Power Rankings at times this season, and junior Nate Navigato is a talented Division I prospect at forward, but not many people could have seen this upset over West Aurora happening. Navigato has been one of the bigger storylines of the playoffs, from a recruiting standpoint, as Wichita State, Illinois State and Lehigh had coaches watch him during Wednesday's win. Geneva will get a crack at No. 1 seed Benet for the East Aurora Sectional title on Friday night.
And the third No. 6 seed to win on Wednesday was No. 25 Glenbard North, who topped No. 16 Proviso East with a 77-74 win at the Bartlett Sectional. Glenbard North has been ranked at times as well this season in our Power Rankings, but the only high-quality win that the DuPage Valley Conference school had during the season was a road win at West Aurora. Now the Panthers appear to be surging at the right time and it should make Friday's sectional title game at Bartlett against No. 4 seed Morton a great game.