Seeds: (1) Belleville West, (2) East St. Louis, (3) Belleville East, (4) Collinsville, (5) O'Fallon
Could surprise: East St. Louis, East
Summary: Top-seeded Belleville West (20-7) heads into the postseason riding a five-game winning streak but can't afford to look past a probable title game matchup with either East St. Louis or host Belleville East. The Maroons rely heavily on the top guard tandem in the Southwestern Conference in juniors Imani Berry (15.4 points per game) and Shay Fluker, along with the presence of 6-foot-5 senior Jesheon Cooper. East St. Louis first-year coach Shardae Butler also has an elite player in junior Brelannair Cox (15.2) and while the Flyerettes have lost twice to West by margins of 13 and 16 points, they are athletic enough to give any team fits. East, which defeated West 39-38 on Dec. 17, is led by senior Montira Mosby (16.7). The Lancers face the tall order of beating both East St. Louis and probably West, to win the title on their home floor.
GRANITE CITY REGIONAL
Seeds: (1) Edwardsville, (2) Alton (2), (3) Granite City, (4) Quincy
Could surprise: Alton
Summary: Perhaps not as dominating as they've been in the past, perennial Class 4A power Tigers have still been unbeatable against Southern Illinois competition and recently wrapped up their fifth straight perfect Southwestern Conference season. Riding a seven-game winning streak after suffering a 26-point loss at nationally-ranked (Columbia) Rockbridge, Edwardsville is led by two of the top players in the St. Louis-area in seniors Kortney Dunbar (17.6) and Aaliyah Covington (17.8). Second-seeded Alton has had a solid season at 14-12, but with losses of 14 and 30 points against Edwardsville, chances of it pulling an upset are not good.
Seeds: (1) Althoff, (2) Columbia, (3) Freeburg, (4) Mascoutah, (5) Waterloo, (6) Cahokia
Could surprise: Columbia, Freeburg
Summary: Thought to be in a bit of a reloading mode while playing several sophomores and freshmen during the 2013-14 season, the Crusaders have been better than expected and look to be the team to beat in this balanced field. Senior Rachel Kaltwasser (10.5) has provided leadership to a team which also features two of the top freshmen in the area in Kyliegh Vaught (11.0) and Maggie Reimer (10.4). Second-seed Columbia also has had a solid season and is led by Kaylee Bastien (11.4). The Eagles also have six other players averaging four points or more. The true sleeper in the Cahokia field may be Freeburg. The Midgets, who defeated Columbia 51-48 earlier this month, are playing their best basketball of the season and have won eight of their last 10 games. Freeburg has an elite athlete in senior Abby Lealaimatafao (13.2) and Chelsea Hill (11.0) heads a strong supporting cast.
Seeds: (1) Civic Memorial, (2) Mater Dei, (3) Highland, 4. Jerseyville, (5) Triad
Favorite: Civic Memorial
Could surprise: Highland, Mater Dei
Summary: After completing the best regular season in school history, Civic Memorial (27-2) has its sights on a regional title and enter the first round at Triad on an 11-game winning streak after a January loss at Highland. Defense has been the name of the game for the Eagles, who have allowed just 35.2 points per game and have an average margin of victory of 26 points. Allie Troeckler (13.2) and Megan Trost (12.8) lead a balanced scoring attack for the Eagles. Second-seeded Mater Dei, which lost to Civic Memorial 48-22 in December, has won five in a row entering a Tuesday game against third-seed Highland. Overachievers, the Knights are led by Avoynna Kampwerth (9.2). Highland, which joined Teutopolis as the only teams to beat Civic Memorial, has won six in a row and is led by junior Olivia LaPorta (13.0). Mater Dei defeated Highland 45-39 in early January.
-- Dean Criddle