Elgin private schools ready for 1A regional
An Elgin school is guaranteed to compete for the Class 1A Westminster Christian regional title next Friday.
Regional play opens Monday with No. 8 Westminster Christian (12-10) facing No. 10 Elgin Academy (10-17) at 7 p.m.
The winner advances to a semifinal against No. 2 Harvest Christian Academy (15-7) on Thursday at 6 p.m.
The winner of that game will compete for the regional plaque on Friday at 7 p.m., possibly against No. 3 Yorkville Christian (15-11).
Elgin Academy is seeded lower than the other two Elgin schools despite having beaten both. Led by junior Ryan Ulrichs (19.1 ppg), the Hilltoppers won 56-55 at Westminster Christian on Dec. 1. They defeated the Lions 46-42 on Dec. 12.
"We couldn't be more excited," Elgin Academy coach and athletic director Rick Williams said of the postseason. "We've already won more games this year than the last two years combined, so we're happy about that and we're happy about our nonconference record (8-7). Though we weren't excited about our seeding, we're playing two teams we've already beaten and we're a better team now in February than when we played them the first time."
Westminster Christian was dealt an untimely setback on Wednesday when Chris King, a 6-4 senior who scores a team-best 14.6 points per game, suffered a season-ending ankle sprain in a 53-46 victory at Hiawatha.
"We had been healthy all year. Not even a hangnail or a jammed finger," first-year Westminster Christian coach Damion Abrams said. "That is a huge blow to our unit, our team and our family, but we have to keep going. The guys are very, very excited for the opportunity to redeem themselves against Elgin Academy."
The Warriors will rely more heavily on senior William Kmieciak (10.4 ppg), 6-2 senior Brett Barker (9.8 ppg) and freshman Justin Glanzer (9.4 ppg).
Harvest Christian Academy had won 5 of its last 6 games heading into Thursday's regular-season finale against Northeastern Athletic Conference foe Parkview Christian. The Lions are led by 6-foot-6 senior Jack Nohava (16.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg), senior Grant Young (9.9 ppg, 3.4 apg, 4 steals) and sophomore Matt Ellett (12 ppg).
Harvest Christian won at Westminster Christian 70-34 on Feb. 1.
Elgin Academy has not win a regional title since 1982-83. Harvest Christian won a Class 1A regional two seasons ago. Westminster Christian last won a regional title in 2015-16.
Stepping up in class: Aurora Christian is the top seed in the Class 2A Northridge Prep regional in Niles next week.
The Eagles (23-6) were bumped up to 2A this season after they advanced to a Class 1A sectional final last year.
They open the playoffs on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against the winner of Monday's game between No. 7 Walther Christian (14-15) and No. 8 Guerin (3-23).
Aurora Christian will likely face host Northridge Prep (19-9) on its home floor in the regional final next Friday at 7 p.m.
"Northridge has a really good program and a nice team this year with a great record," Eagles coach Dan Beebe said. "Coach (Will) Rey does a great job with them. It will be a tall task but we are looking forward to it."
Aurora Christian has a pressing matter to address first. The Eagles play at Metro Suburban Blue leader Riverside-Brookfield on Friday with the league title on the line.
R-B (23-4, 10-1) leads the MSC Blue by a game over Aurora Christian (9-2). The Eagles defeated the Bulldogs 79-70 in overtime in Aurora on Jan. 11.
"The conference title is on the line between us, then we'll look toward the regional from there," Beebe said. "There will be a lot of good talent in front of us moving forward, but I think our schedule has prepared us for it."
Senior Will Wolfe and sophomore Jaehshon Thomas average 17.3 points apiece to lead the Eagles.
You again: St. Edward faces a familiar foe in IC Catholic Prep in its playoff opener at the Class 2A Timothy Christian regional next Wednesday at 7 p.m.
No 4 ICCP (10-16) prevailed 54-50 against No. 6 St. Edward (12-17) in a Metro Suburban Conference crossover in Elgin on Jan 11.
The Green Wave will first attempt to snap a five-game slide in Friday's regular-season finale at Fenton, led by senior guards David Hill (12.6 ppg), Gio Gonnella (12) and Daniel Parks (7.4) and sophomore guard Erik Hill (9.1).
Vikings voted top seed: Geneva (25-1) was named the No. 1 seed in the Bartlett sectional on Thursday.
It is the first No. 1 postseason seed for the Vikings since they were a top subsectional seed in 2014-15, the season they went downstate.
"It's an honor and a credit to our kids in terms of how hard they've worked and the type of season we've had," Geneva coach Scott Hennig said. "We've won some close games and we've won some tournaments. We won some tough games early against Schaumburg and St. Charles East. It all added up."
Pairings for the Class 3A and 4A tournaments will be released by the IHSA Friday afternoon. Regionals within the Barlett sectional will be held at DeKalb, Metea Valley, Glenbard West and Downers Grove South.
"It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds as far as the pairings," Hennig added. "I think we'll go to Metea Valley but we'll see. It's an exciting time."
Elsewhere, West Aurora was named the No. 4 seed in the East Aurora sectional behind No. 1 Bolingbrook, Waubonsie Valley and Oswego East.
Cary-Grove earned the top seed in subsectional A of the Rock Valley College sectional, followed by St. Charles East, South Elgin and Dundee-Crown.
NIC-10 champion Rockford East is the top seed in subsectional B, followed by Crystal Lake South, Harlem and Auburn.
In Class 3A, Burlington Central landed the No. 2 seed out of 10 teams in subsectional A of the Marengo sectional. Glenbard South is the top seed.
Long time coming: Crystal Lake South looks to make program history as the unpredictable Fox Valley Conference title chase winds to a close.
The Gators have not won a FVC championship in boys basketball since consecutive titles in 1992-93 and 1993-94. They hold a one-game lead over Crystal Lake Central (15-11, 9-4), Cary-Grove (18-6, 9-4) and Hampshire (15-12, 9-4) with three league games to play.
CL South concludes the regular season next week with a Tuesday home against McHenry and a Thursday game at Jacobs.
First, the Gators face a pivotal test against CL Central on Friday at 7 p.m.
"That's a huge one," said CL South junior guard Tyler Miller, who scores 14 points per game. "And we're home again, so that's nice. They have a bunch of great players like Alex Timmerman (6-9), Evan Cassell (6-5) and (Christian) Lerum. It's a nice rivalry so we get a ton of fans out and the bleachers are filled. It's always a great game. We always go down to the wire. It's fun."
Coach Matt LePage is trying to keep his players focused on the task at hand.
"It's coach speak here, but one at a time," he said. "We just want to continue to improve and get everybody involved offensively. We just need to continue to develop our offense. When we make shots, we're pretty solid because then we can set our defense. When we set our defense, then we can play with energy and battle. And that's what these guys are really good at doing, just fighting and competing. And we do it with eight, nine guys. This part of the year, using our bench is really going to be critical."