Class 3A Waterloo Regional
Seeds: (1) Cahokia (26-3), (2) Althoff (13-13), (3) Waterloo (17-10), (4) Columbia (15-13), (5) Freeburg (9-18)
Could surprise: Althoff
Summary: Its hard not to like Cahokia, which would be capable of making a long run in Class 4A. The Comanches are quick, skilled, physical and deep enough to reach the state tournament. They have won 19 of their last 20 and had a 13-game winning streak that finally was snapped by Edwardsville on Jan. 26 in the Pinckneyville Panther Showcase. Senior Keenan Minor is an elite player who averages 20.6 points a game and has made 85 3-pointers. Senior Vincent Jackson and junior Darius Austin each average 12.6 points and are the Comanches leading rebounders. Althoff played Cahokia within 10 points on Feb. 15 and is more familiar with the Comanches than any team in the regional field. The Crusaders also built a bit of momentum with a 57-51 overtime win over Centralia in the South Seven Conference finale Friday. Waterloo won 17 games and finished second in the Mississippi Valley Conference, but beating Althoff and Cahokia, most likely, could prove too tall a task.
Seeds: (1) East St. Louis (18-7), (2) Marquette (20-8), (3) Jerseyville (17-12), (4) Highland (17-13), (5) Civic Memorial (13-14), (6) Triad (5-21)
Favorite: East St. Louis
Could surprise: Marquette
Summary: Like Cahokia, East St. Louis would be a threat in Class 4A, so matching up against Class 3A opponents shouldnt be much of a problem for the Flyers. East Side has won 15 of its last 16, and five of its losses are by three or fewer points. Senior Deshawn Munson averages 17.6 points, 11.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists, and senior Johnny McCray has developed into a legitimate post player, averaging 15.2 points and 8.5 rebounds. The Flyers are deep, regularly relying on 10 players. But they are not a strong free throw-shooting team, and that could catch up to them in a close game. Marquette is a capable club, with juniors Deion Lavender and DeAntae McMurray and senior Jake Coddington leading the way. McMurray is a dangerous 3-point shooter, converting 45 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. But the Explorers might not have what it takes to get past an East St. Louis team that has played consistently well, particularly in the second half of the season. Jerseyville and MVC champion Highland have each won 17 games, so they cant be taken lightly, either.
Seeds: (1) Belleville East (24-3), (2) Belleville West (17-9), (3) Collinsville (12-17), (4) OFallon (7-19)
Favorite: Belleville East
Could surprise: Belleville West
Summary: With its No. 1 nemesis, East St. Louis, in Class 3A, Belleville East has the inside track on this regional championship. East St. Louis handed the Lancers two of their three losses in the regular season. The Lancers, who won their first outright Southwestern Conference championship since 1997, are led by Illinois recruit Malcolm Hill, averaging 25.3 points. The 6-foot-7 Hill, who has seven 30-point games, tends to elevate his level of play at crunch time. And with each game potentially being his last, that isnt likely to change in the postseason. Juniors Darreon Reddick (13.4 points), a Division I prospect, and Cameron Hunter (10.7) also fill important roles for East. Belleville West is a threat against anyone with senior Nick Van Osdale (23.6 points) at point guard and senior Markkies Goodwin (11.6 points) in the paint. But the Maroons, who lost three times to Belleville East once in overtime have been battling injury problems, forcing them to turn to less-experienced players. They also will have to find a way to get past Collinsville in the first round after losing to the Kahoks 46-44 on Friday.
Granite City Regional
Seeds: (1) Edwardsville (25-2), (2) Quincy (16-9), (3) Alton (12-17), (4) Granite City (11-15), (5) Springfield (3-23)
Could surprise: Quincy
Summary: Edwardsville, which finished runner-up to Belleville East in the SWC, has no major weaknesses and could be poised to make a long postseason run. But the Tigers, whose only two losses are against the Lancers, are staring at a third matchup against East on March 5 in the semifinals of the Pekin Sectional. Senior Garret Covington, a Western Illinois recruit, averages 18.9 points and 8.5 rebounds and has a team-high 89 3-pointers. Senior Tre Harris, still unsigned but being recruited by Drake, David Lipscomb, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Chicago State, averages 17.7 points and 9.2 rebounds, and senior point guard Shawn Roundtree averages 9.7 points and 9.4 assists. Junior Armon Fletcher (10.2 points) and senior Drew Curtis round out the starting lineup. Coach Mike Waldo bagged his 600th career victory Friday against Alton. Quincys winning tradition was established long ago, but the Blue Devils have dropped five of their last six, including their final four Western Big Six Conference games, and have not won away from home since Dec. 14.