March Madness Heats Up, SuperSectional Capsules
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March Madness Heats Up, SuperSectional Capsules

Michael Brooks (The Real Brain)
March 16, 2004

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With the sectionals in the rearview, March Madness heats up to a boiling point today. Eight games will be played to determine which teams are deserving to play at the Civic Center this Friday.

Many of the top teams that were picked to go this far are on a collision course to meet in Peoria. West Aurora, relying on a stingy defense, and the low-post play of Shaun Pruitt is still alive. A refocused Peoria Central team is beating its opponents by an average of 36 points a game. Homewood-Flossmoor behind the great play of their frontline, and free throw shooting (85% as a team) has taken a difficult road to get to the Supersectionals. Simeon has taken out (3) Brother Rice and (1) Hyde Park. Then there is Mt. Zion. Knocking off giant after giant. They have found themselves in a Supersectional match-up with one of the biggest giants, Peoria Central.

Now that we have recovered our breaths from a busy week, get ready to lose your breaths one more time, it is State Championship Week. Here is a breakdown of ‘Super Tuesday.’

Tue., Mar. 16
(3) Carbondale vs. (1) East St. Louis, 7:30 p.m.
Carbondale, behind the leadership of Justin Dentmon have knocked off (2) Centralia, and (1) Belleville West in their sectional. They gear up to face an East St. Louis team that is led by hot shooting Tommy Liddell. Carbondale has to keep the high jumping Flyers off of the boards if they look to knock another tough team off. East. St. Louis has to slow down Carbondale, and that begins with slowing down Dentmon.

Tue., Mar. 16
(2) Chicago Simeon vs. (3) St. Joseph, 7:30 p.m.
Gene Pingatore always seems to have his teams ready for playoff time no matter if they are all seniors, or a talented group of underclassmen like he has here. Tony Freeman looks to lead the Chargers into battle against high jumping Simeon. Simeon causes so many problems on the boards because as Pat Richardson said, ” If you box out one, you have two more you have to really worry about. If you box out two you still have one to worry about.” That frontline he is talking about is led by senior Calvin Brock. St. Joe’s needs to increase it’s scoring threats by involving more teammates to pull this one out. Jonathon Peoples needs to step up, and become more of a scoring threat for the Chargers to be successful versus Simeon.

Tue., Mar. 16
(1) Chicago Farragut vs. (2) Chicago Von Steuben, 6 p.m.
Von Stueben and Farragut both had surprisingly easy wins in their respective sectional finals, but don’t look for this one to be as easy. Von Stueban has been it’s own biggest problem this year. Down the stretch of many close games they shoot themselves in the feet. During the playoffs that has not been a factor as Angel Santiago has taken control of his team and lead them to victory. Farragut showed it’s dept in defeating Westinghouse. Chris Singletary remains the key though. As he goes, so does the Admirals. Ollie Bailey(Rutgers) continues to pound foes inside and don’t expect anything to change.

Tue., Mar. 16
(1) Peoria vs. (11) Mt. Zion, 7:30 p.m.
Mt. Zion has ‘upset’ (4) Lincoln, (2) Champaign Centennial, and (4) Normal in it’s cinderella trip to the Supersectionals. Now they have to conquer a team that is on a mission. Peoria Central has been running through opponents with relative ease during the playoffs. With DeAndre Miranda back in the line-up, Peoria Central is even more dangerous. Mt. Zion again will look to 6’9″ Indiana St. recruit Mick Yelovich to lead them to state. Peoria Central will to their leader, 6’7″ All-American Shaun Livingston (Duke).

Rockford Metro Center
Tue., Mar. 16
(1) Prairie Ridge vs. (1) Moline
Moline and Prairie Ridge, a pair of #1 seeds, provide one of the more intriguing matchups of the night. Moline is led by senior point guard Wes McCorkle, and sophomore sharpshooter Paul Bayer. Moline will need to set good picks, and speed up the pace of the game to knock down Prarie Ridge. Ridge will be doing just the opposite as they boast Austin Peay recruit Todd Babbington, 6’5″ Brett Cole. Prairie Ridge will look to get the ball to Babbington and Cole as much as possible.

Tue., Mar. 16
(2) Thornton vs. (1) Homewood-Flossmoor, 7:30 p.m.
Not for the weak at heart. Thornton vs. H-F for the third time is sure to be a classic. Brandon Dagans (16ppg 5apg in the postseason) has been leading a blazing resurgence by the Wildcats since they lost 6 in a row in the middle of the season. Dagans and backcourt mate Levante Greenwood (13 3-pointers in postseason) can flat out shoot. Thornton will have to try to involve 6’7″ Sophomore Joevan Catron (6 pts on 6/8 free throw shooting vs. Thornwood) to be more diverse on offense. That will be a hard task with H-F’s frontline. 6’8″ Cyrus Tate (Northern Illinois), 6’7″ Brian Nussbaum (92% from free-throw line in postseason), and 6’8″ point guard Julian Wright (12.5ppg, 9.7rpg, 7apg, 3.7bpg, 2spg during the postseason) will look to slow the Thornton frontline down. Excell Hardy and Freddie Barnes will have the job of slowing the Thornton backcourt down. Thornton also boasts high-flying Donnell Lyons and senior guard Robert Bush. H-F’s depth has caused a lot of teams trouble though with 9 players who are capable of scoring in double figures. Troy Jackson is 0-2 in his last two trips to the United Center.

Tue., Mar. 16
(1) West Aurora vs. (1) Downers Grove South, 7:30 p.m.
Another scary test for West Aurora which has been relying on its defense to take them through the playoffs. Maybe that is a good thing as their offense should be ready to explode. Shaun Pruitt has been a constant force down low all season for the Blackhawks. Jaeh Thomas will be the key to this game though. He will have the task of slowing down gutsy point guard Bryan Mullins. Along with that duty, he has to help West Aurora get more players involve because more teams are keying in on Pruitt. West Aurora hasn’t been downstate since the 2000 team which didn’t really boast any ‘superstars’ besides Jamal Thompson. This team courts Justin Cerasoli as well as sophomore phenom Travis Marion. On paper, West Aurora is the better team, but on the court DGS is a force to be reckoned with.

Tue., Mar. 16
(1) Hoffman Estates vs. (5) Waukegan, 7:30 p.m.
All year Hoffman Estates has been overlooked in favor of teams like Peoria Central and West Aurora, as well as Homewood-Flossmoor. Hoffman Estates has been a steady force all season behind the play of Bryan Mead and Jon Riebel. Waukegan looks to put the clamps on the two stars from Hoffman with junior standout Emmanuel Gaiter.