Boys water polo: Scouting the Elite Eight
Where: Stevenson High School, Thursday and Saturday
St. Ignatius (18-14-1) vs. Fenwick (25-8), 4:30 p.m.
Evanston (28-3) vs. Lyons (28-3), 5:45 p.m.
Conant (22-11-1) vs. Lincoln-Way East (20-11), 7 p.m.
Naperville Central (31-1) vs. Stevenson (29-4), 8:15 p.m.
Outlook: Conant is making its third Elite Eight appearance and is in search of its first state quarterfinal victory. A win against Lincoln-Way East would guarantee the Cougars two games on Saturday, which would be a first for a boys team from the Mid-Suburban League. On May 5, Conant and Lincoln-Way East played as part of the quad hosted by the Cougars, and the Griffins won 9-8. Junior Alex Hirjoi has been a scoring force for Conant and leads the team with 89 goals. Bryan Cho has 63 goals and Jake Lydon has 45. In assists, it's the same three leading the way -- Hirjoi with 45, Lydon with 42 and Cho with 41. Anchoring it all is Conant's athletic senior goalie Harris Dibek, who has made a staggering 314 saves. Lincoln-Way East, also a fine defensive group, is led in scoring by Noah Schor (55 goals) and Tyler Orloff (52).
The other quarterfinals are all great matchups. Lyons vs. Evanston could just as easily have been a state title matchup if the bracketing had been different, and Naperville Central has given defending champ Stevenson 2 of its losses this spring (Lyons and a team from St. Louis are the others).
-- Aaron Gabriel