Lebanon girls basketball coach Chad Cruthis knows how important earning a top seed can be in making a long postseason run.
One year ago, it was a regular-season loss to Okawville that cost Lebanon a top seed in its Class 1A bracket. As a result, even though they won a regional title, the Greyhounds were set on a crash course with eventual state champion Hardin-Calhoun in the sectional semifinals.
Another possible meeting with Hardin-Calhoun in the sectional semifinal awaits the Greyhounds this year, this time on the defending Class 1A state champions’ home court.
Cruthis isn’t thinking that far ahead.
“It would be nice to be able to look forward to the sectional,” Cruthis said. “But sometimes when you look too far ahead you can get beat, and our girls know that. We’re playing well, and we’re looking forward to our first-round regional game next Thursday. That’s all we’re looking at right now.”
The top-ranked Class 1A team in the state all season, Lebanon (24-1) is the top seed in its bracket and will take on either Bunker Hill or Father McGivney in a regional semifinal Feb. 9 at Madison High School.
Fourth-seed Madison will play Metro-East Lutheran in the second semifinal with the winners meeting Feb. 10 for the regional title and a berth in the Class 1A Hardin Calhoun Sectional.
“I’d rather be the No. 1 seed instead of the No. 2 or No. 3 seed,” Cruthis said. “We knew going into the season that the games with Okawville and Mount Olive would determine the seeds for the regional. We knew that last year when Okawville beat us during the season.
“The only thing I don’t like is that we’ll be playing back-to-back nights. I don’t think the Illinois High School Association should allow that. But it is what it is.”
Okawville (20-6) is the No. 2 seed, while Mount Olive is the No. 3 seed. They are favored to reach the finals in the Valmeyer Regional with a berth in the Hardin-Calhoun Sectional at stake. Hardin-Calhoun is favored to come out of the Greenfield Regional, while Winchester is expected to advance from the Jackonsville Routt Regional.
The four regional winners advance to the Hardin-Calhoun Sectional, Feb. 13, 14 and 16 at Hardin Calhoun.
Nashville gets top seed
By virtue of regular-season wins over Althoff and Mater Dei, the Nashville Hornettes have earned the No. 1 seed at Class 2A Sparta Regional at Sparta High School.
Second in the River-to-River Conference behind Carterville, the Hornettes will take on the winner of the Pinckneyville-Sparta game at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Fourth-seed Greenville will battle either Red-Bud or Carlyle in the other semifinal with the two winners meeting for the regional championship Thursday.
Second-year Nashville head coach Doug Althoff has his team at 21-6 heading into the postseason and playing well.
“What you like to have happen is for your team to be playing its best heading down the home stretch. I thought we had a real good showing at the Highland Tournament,” Althoff said. “We’re pleased being the No. 1 seed in that we’re going to play at Sparta — a place which we’re very familiar with because they’re in our conference — and we’ll play a conference team, either Sparta or Pinckneyville, in the first round.”
Althoff, led by the tandem of Maggie Reimer and Kyleigh Vaught, is the second seed and will host a regional beginning Monday.
The Crusaders (17-9) will take on the winner of the Wesclin-Wood River game at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Mater Dei, led by coach David Kohnen, will take on the winner of the Marquette-Dupo game at 7:30 p.m. in the other semifinal Tuesday.
The two winners will battle for the regional title 7 p.m. Thursday.
Mater Dei (15-10) and Althoff have split a pair of regular-season meetings. The winner of the Althoff Regional and the regional champions from Sparta, Anna-Jonesboro and West Frankfort will advance to the Johnston City Sectional on Feb. 13, 14 and 16.
Althoff family reunion
Should Nasvhille and Red Bud reach the finals of the Sparta Regional, it will result in a father-versus-daughter coaching matchup. Doug Althoff is the coach of top-seed Nashville, while his daughter, Haylee Althoff, is the coach at Red Bud.
The Musketeers (14-11) are the sixth seed.
“Yes, we’ve talked about it. I think it would be kind of neat because we haven’t coached against each other yet,” Doug Althoff said. “Haylee said she would be nervous, but she’s done a really good job, and she likes coaching at Red Bud. It’s one of those things where we both want to win, but we both have to get to the title game for it to happen.”
Althoff senior day
The Althoff Crusaders will celebrate Senior Day on Saturday at Althoff when they take on the Centralia Orphans. Tipoff is at 3:30 p.m.
Class 3A-4A seeds to be announced
The seeds and regional tournament for Class 3A-4A teams are set to be announced Thursday afternoon. Undefeated Edwardsville will be the top seed in Class 4A, while Highland and Civic Memorial will be the top two seeds in Class 3A.
All three schools — Edwardsville (22-0), Highland (22-3) and Civic Memorial (23-2) — have been ranked in the top five in the state in their respective classes all season.
BND Girls Basketball Rankings
Rankings for metro-east teams; voting by area coaches and News-Democrat staff. First-place votes are in parentheses; records through Jan. 30
Large school rankings (Class 3A-4A)
Also receiving votes: Belleville West (15-9); Collinsville (11-9), Columbia (16-8), East St. Louis (10-8), Central (13-12), Jerseyville (13-7), Waterloo (11-10), Triad (10-10), Granite City (9-10)
Small school rankings (Class 1A-2A)
Also receiving votes: New Athens (15-8), Marquette (14-11), Red Bud (14-11), Madison (11-6)