Preps Talk

End-of-regular-season NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

End-of-regular-season NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings

The Preps Power Rankings saw some changes this week as the regular season for boys basketball is finally over.

With the IHSA boys basketball state playoffs in full swing this week, it will be fascinating to see which of these teams live up to lofty expectations and which teams fall victim to the upsets of March Madness.

1. Bloom (26-5, 15-1) (1) -- The Blazing Trojans closed the regular season with an easy win over Rich South. Considered by some to be the favorites in Class 4A, the No. 1 seed in the Eisenhower Sectional begins their postseason on Tuesday at Thornwood. 

2. Thornton (29-1, 15-1) (2) -- Racing past Thornwood, Thornton is a major threat in Class 4A. The Wildcats are the No. 2 seed in the Eisenhower Sectional as they start the postseason with Stagg in a regional semifinal on Tuesday at Lincoln-Way East. 

3. Simeon (22-8, 7-2) (3) -- Off during the week, the Public League Playoff champs are the No. 2 seed in the Lyons Sectional. Robert Smith and company will try to make it back to Peoria once again when they face Juarez on Tuesday at Lane. 

4. Curie (26-2, 8-0) (4) -- Curie pulled off another impressive win by going on the road and knocking off a top-10 team in Notre Dame. The Condors are trying to get back to Peoria for the second straight season as the No. 1 seed in the Lyons Sectional. Curie faces host Argo on Tuesday in regional semifinal action. 

5. Morgan Park (19-9, 6-2) (5) (3A) -- Morgan Park had the week off in preparation of another potential run to Peoria. The No. 1 seed in the Thornridge Sectional, the Mustangs begin their playoff journey on Tuesday at Ag. Science against either Morris or Thornridge.

6. Bogan (25-3, 8-1) (6) (3A) -- Bogan was off this week before the 3A playoffs begin. The Bengals are hoping to make another trip to Peoria this season as they're the No. 1 seed in the Hinsdale South Sectional. Bogan starts with the winner of a regional quarterfinal on Wednesday at St. Laurence. 

7. Whitney Young (18-9, 8-1) (9) -- The Dolphins were off this week before the IHSA State Playoffs. The No. 3 seed in the Lyons Sectional, Whitney Young heads to Proviso West where they face the hosts in the regional semifinals on Tuesday.

8. Notre Dame (26-5, 8-1) (10) (3A) -- The Dons lost in their regular-season finale to Curie. One of the favorites in 3A, Notre Dame is the top seed in the Grayslake North Sectional. Heavily favored in regional play, the Dons tip on Tuesday in North Chicago. 

9. Evanston (26-4, 9-1) (7) -- Ending the regular season on a high note against Maine East, the defending Class 4A runner-up is strong again entering the Playoffs. The Wildkits are the No. 3 seed in the Elk Grove Sectional where they open in regional semifinal play on Tuesday at Maine East. 

10. Stevenson (25-4, 13-1) (12) -- Earning revenge on Lake Forest to close the regular season, the Patriots claimed the North Suburban title. Stevenson is the No. 1 seed at Prospect as they host their own regional during the week. The Patriots play Tuesday against Lake Zurich or Waukegan. 

11. Loyola (27-4, 14-1) (13) -- The Ramblers earned a blowout win over Bulls in the final regular season game. Loyola is the top seed in the Elk Grove Sectional as they host their own regional this week. Tuesday is when Loyola begins postseason play as they play the winner of Von Steuben and Elk Grove. 

12. Glenbrook South (27-4, 9-1) (14) -- A dream season for the Titans continued with a convincing Central Suburban Championship win over Niles North. The No. 2 seed at Elk Grove, Glenbrook South heads to Maine West this week. The Titans will open against Conant on Tuesday, but a potential matchup looms against Max Christie and Rolling Meadows in the regional finals on Friday. 

13. Bolingbrook (26-5, 7-1) (15) -- The Raiders had one of the most notable wins of the week with a home win over conference rival H-F. Bolingbrook is the No. 2 seed in the Lockport Sectional as they head to Oswego East to play Plainfield East on Tuesday.

14. Homewood-Flossmoor (23-4, 7-1) (8) -- The Vikings lost a conference showdown with Bolingbrook to end the regular season. Still a very dangerous team in Class 4A, Homewood-Flossmoor is the No. 3 seed in the Eisenhower Sectional. The Vikings start on Tuesday against Shepard. 

15. Joliet West (26-4, 16-0) (16) -- Closing the season unbeaten in the Southwest Prairie, Joliet West is the No. 1 seed in the Lockport Sectional. The Tigers will face Plainfield East on Tuesday as they travel to Romeoville. 

16. Mundelein (27-4, 12-2) (17) -- Mundelein won against Warren to finish the regular season. The Mustangs are the No. 2 seed in the Prospect Sectional as they will play at Fremd during regional play. Regional semifinal action begins against Wheeling on Tuesday. 

17. DePaul Prep (24-5, 12-3) (18) (3A) -- DePaul Prep closed the regular season with wins over Mather and Peoria Manual on back-to-back nights. The No. 2 seed in the St. Ignatius Sectional, the Rams host their own regional and play on Tuesday.

18. Marian Catholic (22-8, 8-1) (11) -- Suffering a loss to Richards to close the regular season, the Spartans drop a few spots before the playoffs. Marian Catholic is the No. 4 seed in a talented Bloom Sectional as they host T.F. South on Tuesday night. 

19. Fenwick (24-7, 12-3) (19) (3A) -- The up-and-down nature of Fenwick's season continued with a tight win over Taft. A No. 1 seed in the St. Ignatius Sectional, the Friars host their own regional and open the state playoffs on Tuesday. 

20. Hillcrest (21-8, 12-1) (25) (3A) -- The Hawks appear to be peaking at the right time with a high-quality win over Oak Forest to capture another South Suburban Blue title. Hillcrest is the No. 4 seed in the Thornridge Sectional as they open with Rich South on Tuesday.  

21. Orr (19-7, 7-2) (21) (2A) -- The three-time defending Class 2A champions opened their quest for four with two easy wins over Rowe-Clark and Raby. The Spartans head to the Marshall Sectional where they will face Perspectives-MSA on Wednesday. 

22. Hinsdale South (28-3, 11-1) (NR) (3A) -- The Hornets are back in the Power Rankings after knocking off York in the West Suburban Championship. The No. 2 seed in their own sectional, Hinsdale South plays Tuesday at Kenwood against either Nazareth or Noble Comer. 

23. Cary-Grove (28-3, 17-1) (24) -- Closing Fox Valley play with a win over Prairie Ridge, the Trojans won the conference with an impressive season. Cary-Grove is a No. 1 seed in the McHenry Sectional as they host a regional this week. The Trojans start against Larkin on Tuesday. 

24. Waubonsie Valley (27-4, 7-3) (NR) -- The Warriors have won five straight games entering the 4A playoffs. And that's without standout junior Ben Schweiger. The No. 3 seed in the Lockport Sectional opens the postseason against host West Aurora on Tuesday. 

25. Benet (22-9, 7-2) (NR) (3A) -- A notable win to close the regular season against St. Charles North has the Redwings back in the Power Rankings. Benet hasn't lost to an unranked team since Dec. 6 and a recent win over Notre Dame remains impressive. The No. 3 seed in the Hinsdale South Sectional, the Redwings host their own regional semifinal matchup on Tuesday. 

Illinois high school boys basketball state finals return to Champaign

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USA Today

Illinois high school boys basketball state finals return to Champaign

It’s time to party like it’s 1995 —especially if you’re a high school basketball fan who likes watching the game in the Champaign-Urbana area.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) board of directors voted Monday to move the host venue for the boys state basketball finals from Peoria to Champaign’s renovated State Farm Center for the next three seasons.

“We see this as the passing of the torch from Peoria to Champaign-Urbana,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “It is bittersweet because there is incredible passion from high school basketball within these two communities, and both have done so much to elevate the state final experience as hosts. The State Farm Center is one of the best arenas in the country, and we are excited to crown state champions there once again. The timing simply felt right to make a change as the tournament format shifts in 2021."

The boys tournament will run on March 11-13, 2021, March 10-12, 2022 and March 9-11, 2023.

“We are thrilled with today’s news that the Illinois high school boys basketball state finals will return home to the campus of the University of Illinois, Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “We are grateful to the IHSA and its leadership for choosing State Farm Center and Champaign-Urbana to host the state finals.

The boys tournament, which had been located in Champaign for 77 years, moved to Peoria’s Civic Center (Carver Arena) starting in 1996. The girls tournament was also in Champaign until 1992 before moving to Redbird Arena. The girls tournament will remain in Normal.

The Champaign area was steeped in prep basketball glory for generations. The first televised championship came in 1952 when Hebron, a school of 98 students defeated a Quincy school boasting an enrollment over 1,000. Six years later, the first Chicago school —Marshall— won state. In 1972, the tournament was split into Class A (small schools) and AA (large schools). The late Ben Wilson helped Simeon win in a title in Champaign in 1984 while future NBA stars (Kevin Garnett, Melvin Ely) and NFL receivers (Antwaan Randle El and Tai Streets) graced the floor at Assembly Hall during the 1995 tournament.

[MORE: Derrick Rose Week podcast]

The next year was a perfect one for the city of Peoria to grab the reins for the boys tournament. Hometown Manual High School won their third and fourth consecutive state titles in 1996 and 1997. Later, Derrick Rose guided Simeon to back-to-back state titles in 2006 and 2007. A four-class system was instituted for the 2007-08 season. Simeon dominated again from 2010-13 with Jabari Parker in the spotlight.

This year’s basketball tournaments were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jerry Sloan, Bulls player and Jazz coaching legend, stayed true to Illinois roots

Jerry Sloan, Bulls player and Jazz coaching legend, stayed true to Illinois roots

There’s country strong. And then there’s Jerry Sloan.

The NBA Hall of Fame player and coach, a tenacious defender and steady offensive threat, became a household name with the Chicago Bulls in the 1970s. Four-time NBA All-Defensive First Team. Two-time NBA-All-Star.

Sloan died Friday after a courageous battle against Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. He was 78.

But it was Sloan’s perseverance as a child and his dedication to the game of basketball —and his home town— 300 miles south of the Windy City that made him a real star.

[MORE: Remember ‘Original Bull’ Jerry Sloan as he lived: tough, humble and honest]

The former Bull, who went on to lead the Utah Jazz to the playoffs in 15 of his 23 seasons there as a head coach, grew up on a farm near McLeansboro, Illinois. The youngest of 10 children, Sloan would routinely wake up in the wee hours to do family chores. He’d then walk two miles to the town’s high school for basketball practice.

The foundation of a hard work ethic and a ferocious competitive nature paved the way for Sloan’s rise to stardom.

Sloan played on several great McLeansboro teams in the late-50s. In his junior season, he helped guide his squad to a 19-6 record for coach Gene Haile. He followed that up with a senior season most kids would dream of: 26 wins, 3 losses. He was named to the All-State team.

He would later guide the Evansville Purple Aces to two Division II national championships. He became known as “the Original Bull” shortly after the startup Bulls franchise drafted him in the 1966 expansion draft. The rest was history—a brilliant 10-year career in Chicago as a player and nearly three more as a head coach on West Madison before becoming a legend in Salt Lake City.

But it was his small-town roots that made Jerry Sloan all the more genuine.

He would return to McLeansboro several times in 1984 —the year he became an assistant with the Utah Jazz— to watch his high school team play. His son, Brian, led the Foxes to the Class A state championship that year, going 35-0 in the process. Brian went on to play for Bobby Knight at Indiana.

Sloan would return frequently to this Southern Illinois town many times during his run with the Jazz— a run where he only finished below .500 once and racked up an astonishing career 1,221 wins. Hamilton County High School, formerly known as McLeansboro, dedicated its gym in Sloan’s honor in Dec. 2012. A road in McLeansboro is now called Jerry Sloan Avenue.

In a statement, a representative from McLeansboro High School said the following:

“Today is a sad day for Hamilton County and the Foxes. Coach Jerry Sloan has passed away. Coach Sloan graduated from McLeansboro High School in 1960 and was always a hometown boy. Whenever he returned he was just one of us. He will be greatly missed. RIP Coach Sloan.”

McLeansboro will always be Sloan Country.

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