Goss: Up-and-down ride hurts Joliet-area basketball teams’ sectional seeds
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org February 7, 2013 10:26PM
Minooka’s Jake Smith. | File photo
Updated: March 10, 2013 6:22AM
Minooka wins Friday night at Oswego as Jake Hogen, Darrin Myers, Adam Holstine, Jake Smith et al. catch fire from outside.
Bolingbrook wins at Homewood-Flossmoor for a season sweep of the mighty Vikings.
Joliet Central evens the season ledger against visiting rival Joliet West.
Lockport, fresh off stunning Bolingbrook, loses at Lincoln-Way Central.
Normally, you probably would think ol’ Goss has lost it with such suggestions. But normal is the last word you would use to describe this boys high school basketball season in the Joliet area.
Results from Tuesday night were a continuation of the wackiness.
With the difficult season Lockport has had, you wouldn’t think the Porters could beat Bolingbrook once, much less a second time. But that’s what happened. As you often hear, never underestimate a Lawrence Thompson Jr.-coached team on a given night.
It was less of a surprise, but I did not anticipate Joliet Central, which was in the thick of the SouthWest Suburban Blue title chase, losing at home to Sandburg. Yet it happened, in overtime. Sandburg obviously is a better team with Malek Harris — he was suspended for the first dozen or so games. But if those two teams were matched up this weekend, I still would like the Steelmen.
Minooka had been struggling of late to put the ball in the basket and had dropped three of its last four. The Indians were home for a key battle with Plainfield East. They are two of the four teams involved in a scramble for second place in the Southwest Prairie Conference.
The Indians led 29-24 at halftime and seemingly were on track to get things turned around. But poor shooting plagued them in the second half, as it has in the recent spin, and the result was a 48-39 East victory.
What is going on here?
Oswego clearly is the class of the Southwest Prairie this season. The Panthers are well on their way to duplicating what Plainfield East accomplished last season — a 14-0 run through the league.
You can say you know you’re in a slump when you get stuck playing your Friday night game at Oswego. Or, you can take the positive approach.
“I think we need a game like Oswego so our kids can relax a little,” Minooka coach Scott Tanaka said. “I do have confidence in our shooters, and our offense has been getting them shots. For whatever reason, they haven’t been putting the ball in the basket. Maybe they are pressing.”
Earlier this season, I thought about how our teams might fare in the sectional seeding voting, when that day came. It arrived Thursday, and we didn’t do all that well. Then again, perhaps our teams by and large did not deserve better.
There’s too much inconsistency across the board. Yet if they get things straightened out in time for the regionals later this month, watch for a few positive surprises.
In Class 4A, Joliet West received the No. 4 seed in the 24-team Thornton Sectional. That’s important to the Tigers because each regional will get one of the 1-4 seeds and one of the 5-8 seeds. The top three seeds are Marian Catholic, Bloom and Homewood-Flossmoor, while T.F. North, Stagg, Lincoln-Way North and Crete-Monee are in the 5-8 holes.
Minooka is 10th and Joliet Central 12th, so both will need to beat two of the top eight seeds to get through their regional. Further down are No. 17 Lincoln-Way East, No. 19 Lincoln-Way Central, No. 21 Lockport, No. 22 Plainfield South and No. 23 Plainfield Central.
In the 23-team 4A sectional at Bolingbrook, the Raiders came in eighth and Lemont, despite a 19-2 record, had happen what we feared, drawing the ninth seed. That means the Indians, in their first year in 4A, must beat two of the top eight seeds to advance through their regional. Other area seeds are No. 15 Plainfield North, No. 16 Plainfield East and No. 23 Romeoville.
The top seven at Bolingbrook are Oswego, Benet, Neuqua Valley, West Aurora, Hinsdale Central, Waubonsie Valley and Naperville Central.
The regional assignments in 4A will be made Friday afternoon. Regardless, Joliet West will be the only “favorite” to win a regional. Everyone else must spring a surprise or two.
In Class 3A, Providence received the No. 2 seed behind Plano in the five-team Lincoln-Way West Regional but still has a legitimate shot at reaching the sectional. Joliet Catholic is the No. 3 seed and Lincoln-Way West is fifth.
In 3A at Herscher, Morris is third and Coal City fourth in the five-team regional. Pontiac is No. 1 and Prairie Central No. 2. And at the five-team Peotone Regional, Peotone is third behind Rich East and Rich South.
While the seedings suggest we may not be celebrating much postseason success, with the way this season has gone, who knows?