Preps Talk

13 Boys basketball conference races to watch

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13 Boys basketball conference races to watch

Now that the conference season is heating up in high school basketball, it's time to examine some of the races that are worth watching these next few months. Many of these conferences are tight at the moment, as the races will prepare teams for the state playoffs in March with some great games between familiar opponents.

Here's an overview of 13 leagues with good races to watch and some of the teams still involved. We'll feature plenty of these teams and conferences over the next few months on High School Lites.

Catholic Blue

Overview: The Catholic League is deep and loaded with talent and good coaching once again. Multiple teams have found themselves in the Preps Power Rankings out of the Blue division — which has Division I talent all over the place.

Teams to Watch: DePaul Prep (12-3, 6-0) maintains a solid early lead as the Rams are trying to prove themselves as a potential Peoria team. St. Laurence (16-3, 5-2), Brother Rice (12-6, 4-2) and Loyola (13-4, 4-3) have all been in the Preps Power Rankings this season as any of this group can knock off DePaul at the top. Fenwick (9-7, 3-4) is a darkhorse that has played a tough schedule.

Catholic White

Overview: With an intriguing mix of classes, the White Division of the Catholic League has been fun this early season. Also with multiple ranked teams, the White Division could have three state title contenders from different classes.

Teams to Watch: Leo (13-3, 5-1) and St. Rita (12-6, 6-1) are both good enough to be in the top 25 as they look like the teams to take care of to win conference. Providence-St. Mel (12-4, 5-2) is another ranked team who doubles as one of the state's premier Class 1A teams. Mount Carmel (12-6, 4-3) is a fourth 12-win team playing at a solid level after the holidays.

CSL South

Overview: Another league that is annually great, the CSL South has a lot of contenders once again this season. Two of the teams are ranked and pushing for state credibility while a second pack of three teams is right there to reckon with.

Teams to Watch: Classic rivals Evanston (16-3, 4-1) and New Trier (15-2, 5-0) are the top two teams in a deep league as they play for the first time on Friday night. Glenbrook South (11-4, 2-2) has surprised this season and found themselves in the Power Rankings after an early win over the Wildkits. And Maine South (10-6, 2-2) and Niles North (9-6, 1-3) both possess the talent to steal wins from the top teams and get back in the race.

DuKane

Overview: A first-year league that has developed into a fun basketball race, the DuKane features some quality teams. With one of the area's lone unbeaten teams and a quality group of teams right behind them, the DuKane will be worth keeping an eye on into March.

Teams to Watch: Geneva (15-0, 4-0) has been one of the area's best teams, as they give the DuKane some instant credibility. Wheaton North (9-7, 4-1), WW South (11-4, 3-2) and St. Charles East (10-7, 3-2) are also teams capable of knocking off the Vikings as each have good wins to start this season. Lake Park (11-5, 2-3) is another team with double-digit wins who can do damage.

ESCC

Overview: Annually one of the area's best leagues, the ESCC is a little more top-heavy than the best few years. But while the league isn't as balanced as before, the ESCC features perhaps the best conference race in the area between really talented ranked teams.

Teams to Watch: Three unbeaten ranked teams remain in the mix for the league title as Marian Catholic (15-1, 4-0), Benet (13-3, 3-0) and St. Viator (14-2, 2-0) are three of the areas best teams. Carmel (12-8, 2-1), Notre Dame (10-7, 1-1) and St. Patrick (10-7) are three more programs who could creep up from the second tier. But for now, this mostly looks like a three-team race. 

Fox Valley

Overview: Dominated by Jacobs for the past few seasons, the Golden Eagles are hovering around .500 as their 26-game FVC winning streak was snapped by Crystal Lake Central earlier this season. For the first time in years, the Fox Valley has an interesting basketball race with a bunch of teams involved.

Teams to Watch: Crystal Lake Central (11-4, 5-0) is the lone unbeaten through five games while Hampshire (10-5, 5-1), Dundee-Crown (12-3, 4-2) and Huntley (9-5, 4-2) are all within two games. And although Cary-Grove (11-5, 3-3) and Crystal Lake South (11-6, 3-3) are both 3-3 in league play, both have double-digit wins while showing an ability to hang with anyone in the conference.

Metro Suburban Blue

Overview: Sometimes an afterthought league, the Metro Suburban Blue has some serious talent in 2018-19. Multiple teams could make deep postseason runs in multiple classes and the league is good enough to have multiple ranked teams.

Teams to Watch: Riverside-Brookfield (13-3, 4-0) has burst back on the area scene as they've been ranked before this season. Aurora Christian (14-3, 2-0) and Chicago Christian (14-5, 4-1) are both firmly in the conference race as well as both are only a handful of local teams to reach 14 wins. And McNamara (12-7, 2-3) looms as a threat in the middle of the conference. 

Mid-Suburban West

Overview: Although both Mid-Suburban races are intriguing, this one has three 12-win teams all battling it out. One team has come ahead as a potential favorite, but the other two teams are still firmly in the mix.

Teams to Watch: Fremd (12-3, 4-0) has emerged as a top-25 team after proving themselves with multiple quality wins at the Wheeling Hardwood Classic. Schaumburg (12-5, 3-1) and Barrington (12-5, 2-2) have both set solid marks this season while flying under the radar as the Broncos beat the Saxons by a point.

Public League Red South/Central

Overview: Perhaps the state's most star-studded conference, the Public League's Red South/Central division features multiple state title contenders and top-10 teams. The clashes between top teams usually highlights any week of games and this season has been no different.

Teams to Watch: Curie (16-1, 4-0) has looked like the area's best team to start the season after winning Pontiac. Morgan Park (12-3, 3-1) and Bogan (14-2, 3-2) won the Big Dipper and Proviso West, respectively, as they've been top-five teams most of the season. Simeon (7-9, 2-2) is still top-ten good despite their tough start while Kenwood (11-5, 3-2) is another top-25 caliber team.

Public League Red North/West

Overview: While the other Public League Red division has more star power, the Red North/West is the deeper of the two. An astounding nine of the league's 10 teams find themselves over .500 at this point, as it's nearly impossible to take a night off in conference play.  

Teams to Watch: Orr (10-7, 4-0) currently finds itself as the league's only unbeaten, but they still have to prove themselves against the area's and conference's elite teams. Whitney Young (13-6, 3-1) remains a favorite despite still figuring some things out while Uplift (9-4, 3-1) and Lincoln Park (10-6, 2-2) are both top-25 worthy teams. Lane (11-4, 2-2), Marshall (7-4, 2-2) and North Lawndale (8-5, 2-2) are all good at home and help make the league's insane depth.

South Suburban Blue

Overview: Traditionally dominated by Hillcrest, the Hawks get another year of stiff competition. An astounding six teams out of seven are 4-2 or better in league play 

Teams to Watch: Hillcrest (10-6, 6-0) is the favorite and unbeaten to this point. Behind them, Tinley Park (11-4, 4-1) and Lemont (9-8, 4-1) are only a game behind. At 4-2 in league play lies Oak Forest (13-4), T.F. North (9-4) and T.F. South (7-8, 4-2) can all still make an impact by continuing to win.

Upstate Eight

Overview: The re-worked Upstate Eight still has a great three-team race at the top as the conference tries to figure itself out for the future. While the Upstate Eight is having a down year, there are a lot of programs with recent success having rebuild years.

Teams to Watch: The class of the conference has been West Aurora (15-3, 8-0) to this point. Glenbard South (11-3, 6-1) and South Elgin (12-6, 6-2) are the only two other teams in the 10-team conference even close to over .500 at this point as they'll need to knock off the Blackhawks to catch ground. 

West Suburban Gold

Overview: Four teams are within a game of first in this division of the always-talented West Suburban. The Gold Division is as wide open as any in the Chicagoland area heading into the heart of January.

Teams to Watch: Proviso East (11-3, 4-0) is the league's only unbeaten as a pack of three teams are right behind the Pirates. Downers South (11-5, 4-1), Willowbrook (9-6, 3-1) and Morton (8-6, 2-1) are all hanging around and Leyden (8-7 2-2) presents another team who could become a problem. 

IHSA Preps Boys Basketball AP Poll

IHSA Preps Boys Basketball AP Poll

Here are the rankings of Illinois high school boys basketball teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters:


Class 4A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Belleville West (8) 17-0 80 1
2. Curie 18-1 72 2
3. Whitney Young 14-6 50 5
4. Bloom 17-1 49 3
5. Danville 16-2 46 6
6.  Marian Catholic 16-2 28 4
7. Evanston 17-3 27 9
T-8. Moline 16-2 23 10
T-8. Bolingbrook 11-3 23 8
10. Rockford East 18-2 16 NR

Others receiving votes: Bloomington 10, Simeon 6, Homewood-Flossmoor 4, Loyola 3, Collinsville 1, Benet 1, Geneva 1.
 

Class 3A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Bogan (10) 17-2 109 1
2. Morgan Park (1) 15-3 100 2
3. Springfield Southeast 14-1 87 3
4. East St. Louis 13-5 72 5
5. DePaul Prep 13-4 46 7
6. Peoria Notre Dame 13-4 44 6
7. Lincoln 13-2 42 8
8. Ottawa 14-1 31 9
9. Rock Falls 19-1 20 NR
10.  St. Viator 14-4 16 4

Others receiving votes: Kankakee 13, St. Laurence 9, Lindblom 8, Carbondale 4, North Lawndale 2, Highland 1, Hillcrest 1.

Class 2A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Nashville (9) 18-2 118 2
2. Leo 13-5 84 1
3. Teutopolis 15-2 82 5
4. Orr (2) 13-7 80 7
5. Bloomington Cent. Catholic 11-5 75 4
6.  Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 15-2 65 6
7.  Warsaw West Hancock 16-1 40 9
8. Uplift 9-6 39 3
9. Casey-Westfield 17-2 34 8
10. Pinckneyville (2) 17-2 29 NR

Others receiving votes: Williamsville 15, Deer Creek-Mackinaw 12, Aurora Christian 12, Westmont 8, Hall 7, Fairfield 7, Corliss 4, Alton Marquette 1, Monticello 1, PORTA 1, Newman Catholic 1.


Class 1A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Providence -St. Mel (3) 15-4 111 2
2. Cissna Park (6) 16-1 109 1
3. East Dubuque (3) 16-0 97 3
4. Concord Triopia 18-0 89 4
5. Kewanee (Wethersfield) 15-2 60 6
6. Payson Seymour 13-3 54 5
7.  Moweaqua Central A&M 16-3 31 NR
8. Thompsonville 17-2 29 7
9.  Ottawa Marquette 16-2 28 9
10. Winchester-West Central 14-5 11 NR

Others receiving votes: Nokomis 10, Polo 9, Elmwood 7, Sesser-Valier 6, Woodlawn 5, Champaign Judah Christian 2, Newark 1, Springfield Calvary 1.

IHSA Preps Girls Basketball AP Poll

IHSA Preps Girls Basketball AP Poll

Here are the rankings of Illinois high school girls basketball teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters:


Class 4A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Maine West (8) 21-0 80 1
2. Rock Island 18-1 70 2
3. Edwardsville 18-2 56 5
4. Fremd 19-3 55 3
5. Boylan Catholic 19-0 49 7
6.  Montini 21-3 45 4
7.  Whitney Young 15-4 29 8
8.  Benet 18-4 28 6
9.  Mother McAuley 19-2 14 10
10.  Hononegah 19-4 6 9

Others receiving votes: Geneva 4, Bartlett 2, Normal Community 1, O'Fallon 1.
 

Class 3A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
T-1. Kankakee (6) 24-0 101 T-2
T-1. Richwoods (5) 20-2 101 1
3.  Morton 18-2 90 T-2
4.  Bloomington Central Catholic 19-3 68 T-4
5. Charleston 21-0 66 T-4
6.  Nazareth 18-1 62 8
7 Carterville 18-3 38 7
8. Sandwich 22-0 37 9
T-9. Bethalto Civic Memorial 19-4 14 6
T-9. Burlington Central 14-5 14 10

Others receiving votes: Effingham 4, Geneseo 4, Sterling 4, Breese Mater Dei 1, Columbia 1.

Class 2A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Eureka (9) 20-2 117 1
2. Greenville (1) 19-1 93 2
3. Sullivan (1) 19-1 73 5
4. Chicago Marshall (1) 13-7 71 6
5.  Watseka  19-2 69 4
6.  Walther Christian 17-0 51 7
7.  Hamilton County 21-1 42 T-9
8. Teutopolis 17-3 41 8
9.  Harrisburg 21-2 40 3
10. St. Joseph-Ogden 18-4 22 T-9

Others receiving votes: Hillsboro 9, Buffalo Tri-City 8, Pleasant Plains 6, Camp Point Central 6, Carlinville 4, Bismarck-Henning 3, Hamilton 2, Illini West (Carthage) 2, Knoxville 1.


Class 1A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Danville Schlarman (13) 18-2 130 1
2. Jacksonville Routt 19-2 105 T-3
3.  Lewistown 21-1 97 2
4.  Stockton 18-3 83 5
5. Lanark Eastland 21-4 76 6
6. Goreville 17-5 61 T-3
7.  Shiloh 17-4 47 7
8.  Illini Bluffs 19-5 40 8
9.  Amboy 20-1 36 9
10. Altamont 19-2 17 10

Others receiving votes: Concord Triopia 15, Dakota 4, Centralia Christ Our Rock 3, Aquin 1