Preps Talk

A shift in power? Five conferences that fared well and three that struggled in first round

A shift in power? Five conferences that fared well and three that struggled in first round

I always find it interesting to see how Chicagoland’s high school football conferences fare in the opening round of the IHSA playoffs. When you take a look at how some conferences fared after last week’s action, it's pretty evident that we are seeing a shift in the balance of power.

Five conferences that fared well ... 

Northern Illinois Big 12 (5-1): The East division posted a perfect 3-0 record with wins from DeKalb (Class 6A), Morris (5A) and Sycamore (5A), while the West saw wins from Sterling (5A) and Rochelle (5A). The only team not in the win column was Geneseo (5A), which lost to Triad.

Upstate 8 River (3-0): Both St. Charles East (8A) and Batavia (7A) rolled to impressive opening-round wins. St. Charles North (7A) needed double overtime to beat Carmel 31-24.

Fox Valley (4-1): This conference also was impressive. Prairie Ridge (6A), Cary-Grove (6A), Huntley (8A) and Jacobs (7A) picked up wins. The only team to lose was McHenry (7A), which fell to Batavia 42-12.

Mid-Suburban West (3-1): The strength of this conference was undoubtedly one of the biggest stories this season. Palatine, Barrington and Fremd all advanced in Class 8A, while Hoffman Estates (7A) gave Benet Academy everything it could handle in a 29-23 loss. The most impressive win — possibly of the entire state playoffs in the opening round — was 25th-seeded Fremd's 45-42 win over No. 3 Brother Rice. The Mid-Suburban conference was 4-2 overall when you add in the East portion of the league. Rolling Meadows (7A) picked up a win, while Wheeling (7A) lost to to Cary-Grove.

Southwest Prairie (3-1): Outside of traditional power Oswego, the SW Prairie has struggled to get much traction in the IHSA playoffs over the past several years. But so far in 2016, the league is in a groove. Wins by Oswego (8A), Oswego East (8A) and Plainfield North (7A) have the Joliet-area conference headed in the right direction. The only loss was Joliet West (8A), which succumbed to Southwest Prairie rival Oswego 10-9.

... and three conferences that struggled

Chicago Catholic League Blue (1-2): Not having Providence Catholic and Mount Carmel in the postseason is a stunner on its own. Round 1 losses from 7A’s St. Rita (to Rockford Auburn), along with 8A’s Brother Rice’s upset at the hand of the aforementioned Fremd Vikings, leaves the 8A No. 1 seed, Loyola Academy, as the sole survivor from the CCL Blue.

DuPage Valley (2-2): The DVC also saw some upsets last weekend, including 8A’s No. 13 seed Neuqua Valley. It fell 31-28 to No. 20 Glenbard West, while No. 14 seed Naperville North dropped a 25-23 decision to No. 19 Lyons Township. Both games were as well played and as close as any games all weekend long. Teams that are still alive representing the DuPage Valley include Glenbard North (7A). They beat Pekin 34-0. 8A’s No. 31 seed Waubonsie Valley moves on after stunning Hinsdale Central 33-23 on Saturday afternoon.

West Suburban Silver (2-2): Both Glenbard West (8A) and Lyons Township (8A) defeated DuPage Valley teams to advance. Oak Park-River Forest (8A) lost in overtime to St. Louis-area power Edwardsville 23-20, while Hinsdale Central (8A), as mentioned, was stunned by No. 31 seed Waubonsie Valley.

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

High School Lites had five matchups between top-25 teams on Friday night as the Public League Playoff semifinals and big matchups in the CSL South, Catholic League Blue and SouthWest Suburban Blue took shape.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Palatine's Eduardo Orozco

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Maine West girls basketball

Highlights

No. 1 Simeon holds off No. 4 Whitney Young

No. 2 Orr gets revenge on No. 3 Curie

No. 9 New Trier takes down No. 6 Evanston

No. 8 Fenwick handles No. 10 Loyola Academy

No. 23 Homewood-Flossmoor rallies past No. 18 Bolingbrook

Oswego East upsets No. 20 Joliet Central

Andrew shuts down Thornridge

Sandburg tops Lockport in OT

Richards runs by Shepard

Maine West captures second straight girls basketball regional title

Five ranked matchups lead a loaded edition of High School Lites

Five ranked matchups lead a loaded edition of High School Lites

High School Lites has a huge lineup in place for this week's show as we'll feature five matchups between top-25 teams. With the Public League Playoff semifinals, Catholic League Blue, CSL South and SouthWest Suburban Blue. 

Catch the newest edition of High School Lites this Friday night at 11 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. 

Public League Semifinals at Chicago State

No. 2 Orr vs. No. 3 Curie, 5 p.m. -- A huge rematch in the first semifinal puts these two top-3 teams against each other. Curie (23-3, 8-1) won the first matchup between the two teams early in the season as they were playing without senior guard Maurice Commander. Junior guard Marquise Walker and senior big men Traevon and Tyree Martin stepped up in that one. Orr (22-3, 9-0) has been on a roll lately as seniors Raekwon Drake, Dannie Smith, Ty Mosley and Chase Adams are playing at a high level. 

No. 1 Simeon vs. No. 4 Whitney Young, 7 p.m. -- The second semifinal puts two Public League titans against each other. The Wolverines (23-3, 9-0) will be the favorite as they're still unbeaten against Illinois competition. Senior Talen Horton-Tucker is the leading Player of the Year candidate and he's surrounded by talented teammates. Whitney Young (22-6, 7-2) earned a huge quarterfinal win over Morgan Park earlier this week as the Dolphins are playing with a lot of confidence. Seniors Javon Freeman and Xavier Castaneda are experienced while sophomore Tyler Beard has elevated his play.

Friday's Other Games

No. 9 New Trier at No. 6 Evanston, 7:00 p.m. -- A huge rematch in the CSL South that could ultimately decide a tight conference race. Evanston (20-4, 8-1) won the first matchup in overtime on the road on Jan. 12 as they've won six straight games. New Trier (20-3, 7-1) has won 10 straight games since that loss to the Wildkits as they picked up an important overtime win over Maine South earlier this week.  

No. 8 Fenwick at No. 10 Loyola, 7:00 p.m. -- Two Catholic League powers battle here. Fenwick (17-7, 7-0) is trying to stay unbeaten in the conference as they picked up a win over Marmion earlier this week. Loyola (21-5, 5-2) has dropped two straight games on the road but the Ramblers are still trying to gain some momentum before the postseason starts. 

No. 18 Bolingbrook at No. 23 Homewood-Flossmoor, 7:00 p.m. -- Two of the top teams in the SouthWest Suburban Blue face in this one. The Vikings (15-6, 5-1) have recent wins over Hillcrest and Lincoln-Way East as they've been playing better basketball the past few weeks. The Raiders (17-5, 5-2) won the first matchup between these two teams on Jan. 19 as they beat Sandburg in their last game. After a 10-day layoff, it'll be interesting to see how Bolingbrook looks in such an important game. 

Lockport at Sandburg, 6:00 p.m. -- We stay in the SouthWest Suburban Blue in this one as Sandburg look to get back on track. The Eagles (15-8, 2-5) have dropped two straight games, including a recent loss to Bolingbrook. Lockport (7-14, 1-6) recently knocked off Bolingbrook but they've also lost two straight heading into this one. Sandburg won the first matchup between these two teams with an overtime win on Jan. 19. 

Thornridge at Andrew, 6:30 p.m. --  Heading over into the SouthWest Suburban Red, Andrew tries to stay ahead of the pack for the league title. The Thunderbolts (16-8, 8-2) have won three straight games as they won on the road at Thornridge on Jan. 12. Thornridge (14-9, 3-6) has gone on a lot of runs this season as they've won two straight on the road after a five-game losing streak. 

Richards at Shepard, 7:00 p.m. -- Two of the best teams in the South Suburban Red matchup here. Shepard (15-7, 7-4) lost to Oak Lawn last week to snap a seven-game winning streak. Richards (11-12, 8-3) has played significantly better lately after a slow start. Both of these teams are battling with Oak Lawn for league supremacy. 

Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week

No. 20 Joliet Central at Oswego East, 6:30 p.m. -- Our Viewers' Choice Game of the Week heads to the Southwest Prairie. Joliet Central (19-4, 11-0) is trying to go unbeaten in league play as they've won three straight games. Oswego East (16-7, 8-3) is coming off a big win over Romeoville earlier this week. The Steelmen won this first matchup between these two teams on Dec. 15.