Two more steps. Giant steps.
Illinois high school 3A and 4A boys basketball teams will take that first step -- a giant leap, if you will -- towards Peoria's Carver Arena in Friday's sectional championships. All that it needed is a win there and another at super-sectionals.
CSN Chicago will have extensive coverage of sectional and state basketball championship games in a special Saturday edition of High School Lites. The most anticipated of those matchups is likely to be in Summit as Whitney Young and Simeon square off at Argo High School. The Wolverines got the best of the Dolphins back on Jan. 26, winning 44-41. Jahlil Okafor, Whitney Young's 6-foot-11 junior center, will lead the charge in the rematch. He scored 13 points in a 62-58 win over Curie on Thursday night. Duke-bound Jabari Parker and Simeon are on the path to their fourth consecutive 4A title. Who survives the battle of elite basketball powerhouses?
Over in class 3A, North Chicago and Hillcrest are among the teams looking to get back to state, but upstate teams like Carmel (first winning season in 21 years) and Rich East stand in their way.
[RELATED: Rich East begins to focus on the process]
Some schools are already playing for a state title.
In class 1A, Eastland, Madison, Nokomis and Illini Central will vie for the first-place trophy. Madison and Lanark's Eastland high schools are both familiar with the floor in Peoria, having gone to state recently (2010). Nokomis has rebounded tremendously after a 0-4 start, while Illini Central is looking to improve on their third place 1A showing from a year ago.
In class 2A, Winnebago, Seton Academy, Harrisburg, St. Joseph-Ogden. Winnebago is a regular at state. This will be their fourth appearance since the 2003-04 season. Seton won it all in 2009 and finished fourth last year. St. Joseph-Ogden and Harrisburg's programs have undergone amazing transformations in recent years. SJO was just 2-25 in 2010 and Harrisburg has had a steady incline since a 3-23 mark in 2005.
[RELATED: Seton seeks second title in five years]
FRIDAY'S SECTIONAL FINALS
Morgan Park vs. Perspectives (at St. Laurence)
Rich East vs. Hillcrest (at Rich South)
Orr vs. St. Joseph (at Riverside-Brookfield)
North Chicago vs. Carmel (at Antioch)
Rockford Lutheran vs. St. Francis (at Freeport)
Marian Catholic vs. Bloom (at Thornton)
West Aurora vs. Benet (at Bolingbrook)
Niles North vs. New Trier (at Glenbrook North)
Stevenson vs. St. Viator (at Waukegan)
Rockford Jefferson vs. Rockford Boylan (at DeKalb)
Proviso East vs. Oak Park-River Forest (at Schaumburg)
Simeon vs. Whitney Young (at Argo)
SATURDAY'S STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Eastland or Madison vs. Nokomis or Illini Central (at Peoria's Carver Arena)
Winnebago or Seton Academy vs. Harrisburg or St. Joseph-Ogden (at Peoria's Carver Arena)
Also on the show:
-- Some teams go all year without a buzzer-beating win. Marian Catholic had two of them and in state playoff games, no less. They saved their best for last against Rolling Meadows in the 4A state championship. And by last, I mean last-second, tip-in shot at the final horn. We will chat with the Spartans, our Muscle Milk Team of the Week.
-- Oswego's Miles Simelton may not have been known across Illinois at the start of basketball season. But the senior point guard compiled an impressive season and he's now mentioned among the top guards in state. Simelton earns our Allstate High School Athlete of the Week honors.
-- We'll also bring you up to speed with former Simeon star Steve Taylor. Our cameras spent a day with the current Marquette Golden Eagle and find out how he's adjusted to life on the college basketball floor. We'll present a preview of our main story this Saturday, with the feature-length interview coming to CSNChicago.com on Wednesday and airing in High School Lites on March 16.
-- As always, we'll take a look at the top plays from last week and drive down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment.
You can catch High School Lites, presented by Discount Tire, on CSN and CSNChicago.com this week at a special day and time: Saturday at 10:30 p.m. The show will re-air Sunday morning at 7:30 and 8:30.
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