Jacobson: The boys basketball regular season has ended and our last set of playoffs begin today as Genoa-Kingston, DeKalb and Kaneland all have regional quarterfinal games. Sycamore gets started Tuesday in their regional semifinals.
It’s never easy to come out of a regional having to play three games. What are the chances that one of the three teams playing today can win a regional title?
Nitz: It’s always going to be tough to win a regional by having to play a quarterfinal, but anything can happen in a one-and-done, knockout situation. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for any of the three teams you mentioned to claim a title Friday night. G-K, at 16-10, has a very good record for a fifth seed, and the Burlington Central Regional looks wide open. Kaneland won the Northern Illinois Big 12 East, and DeKalb has made a nice little move here at the end of the season.
I think DeKalb has a decent shot to make a run. Belvidere North, the Barbs’ quarterfinal opponent, is certainly beatable. I honestly think Rockford Jefferson, the top seed at Rockford East, should have been seeded third. It wouldn’t shock me to see DeKalb take down the J-Hawks in the semis, and anything can happen in the final. Sure, the Barbs have had a disappointing season overall, but they did play a fairly tough nonconference schedule with some Class 4A teams on it. Maybe it pays off this week.
Ross, which of these teams do you think has the best shot at a regional championship?
Jacobson: All three have a shot. If I’m going to pick one though, I’ll go with the Cogs. G-K has played Burlington Central tough twice, coming out on the short end each time. The No. 1 seed in that regional is Hampshire, which boasts a record of 22-4 coming out of the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division, but the Whip-Purs’ strength of schedule isn’t much to write home about. In games against opponents known around DeKalb County, Hampshire has beaten Burlington Central twice (by five and 11 points), Geneseo by two, and Newark by five.
Guard play is always a key for me, and Mason and Tommy Lucca provide the Cogs with two dependable options.
Just by virtue of Sycamore’s bye into the semifinals, I think it is the most likely team of our 3A and 4A teams to advance through to the sectional round. Sycamore gets a tough matchup against Rochelle on Tuesday, though.
What are your keys to that matchup after the two teams split their two regular-season games?
Nitz: Rochelle loves to shoot the 3-pointer, and we both watched the Hubs light it up from beyond the arc in their 71-64 win Feb. 15 at Sycamore. If the Spartans can keep Rochelle’s shooters in check, they certainly have a shot.
Sycamore beat Rochelle by 18 in December, but the Hubs were without their best player, senior point guard Grant Prusator. He had 26 points in the win on Feb. 15. He’s one player Sycamore has to hold in check.
Jacobson: For me, I think it’s all on Sycamore. If they control the tempo, slow it down and execute in the half court, then they’ll come away with a win. It’s when the Spartans play a little bit out of control that things tend to go south. Turnovers are only exacerbated playing against Rochelle because the Hubs like to get up and down.