The Class 3A and 4A sectionals commence Tuesday night with many unexpected teams still vying for a trip to Peoria for the finals in ten days. Both downstate and in Chicagoland, many highly ranked squads fell victim in last week's regionals and are now watching from the sidelines.
The Peoria sectional has four teams with a combined 44 losses on their slate for the year. All that didn't matter last week as each knocked off the top seed in their respective regional. Notre Dame faces Dunlap on Tuesday and Dixon and Morton square off Wednesday. While the Peoria sectional has always been known for having top ranked teams over the years, don't tell that to the players of these schools as they eagerly await their chance to advance. One thing is for sure, each team will be competing fiercely and the games should go down to the wire in front of frenzied fans.
The upset bug proliferated in the Chicago area last week as well. In 3A, Morgan Park is looking strong to repeat in Peoria after getting past Hillcrest in the regional final, but must face the hosts at Rich East Tuesday night. In 4A, Whitney Young is the consensus favorite at this point in the amazingly tough Marist sectional, but faces four time defending state champion Simeon on Wednesday night. The reward for that victor will be a match up against the King vs. St. Rita winner. Also in 4A, many of the pundits are picking Lincolnshire Stevenson to win it all, but they will have to get past St. Viator Tuesday in what should be a war at the Lake Zurich sectional.
Lastly, two teams are still alive with coaches formerly from Peoria at the helm. Evanston's Mike Ellis led Richwoods to a second place finish in Class 3A in 2010 and now has the Wildkits set to battle Maine South at the Park Ridge sectional on Wednesday. Wayne McClain, who led Manual to the last three of their record four straight titles in the 90's, now has the Champaign Central program on the upswing and they will hope to upset powerful Springfield Lanphier at the Mattoon sectional Tuesday night. The Maroons upset state ranked Champaign Centenniel in the regional final and look to keep things rolling.