In the midst of one the best seasons in school history, the Marisssa (Coop) Meteors head into play this week in an unfamilar position.
Second behind the Lebanon Greyhounds in the Cahokia Conference Kaskaskia Division, the Meteors are the top seed in their half of the Class 1A Steeleville Sectional and will take on either Galatia or Cobden on Thursday in one of two semifinals at the Elkville Regional.
The Meteors (22-5) are just one of several area Class 1A and 2A teams hoping to make long postseason runs during the next three weeks with the hopes of qualifying for the IHSA Class 1A-2A Girls State Tournament which is set for Feb. 22-23 at Redbird Arena in Normal.
The Lebanon Greyhounds (20-11) placed third in the Class 1A state finals a year ago and along with Okawville (12-15) appear to be two of the area’s top Class 1A hopes. Winners of the Elkville, New Athens, Mounds Meridian and Pope County regionals advance to the Steeleville Sectional which begins Feb. 11
Lebanon and Okawville are competing at the Lebanon Regional which also begins on Monday. Winners of the Greenfield, Bluffs, Woodlawn and Lebanon Regionals advance to the Jacksonville Routt Sectional
In Class 2A, Nashville and Althoff, two perennial southern Illinois powers, headline the list of top teams competing for a chance to play in the Red Bud Sectional which begins Feb. 11.
Nashville (19-9) is the top seed in its half of the Red Bud Sectional and will play in the Trico Regional, while Althoff (18-9) is a No. 2 seed and is competing at the Wesclin Regional this week.
Other regionals feeding into the Red Bud Sectional are being played in Wayne City and Vienna.
Following are capsules of Class 1A and 2A regionals involving local teams this week.
Seeds: 2. Okawville, 3. Lebanon, 5. Father McGivney, 6. Metro East Lutheran, 9. Madison
Could surprise: Okawville
Synopsis: The top Class 1A teams in southern Illinois the past three years, Okawville and Lebanon staged a memorable sectional final a year in which Lebanon won. The Greyhounds went on to place third at the Class 1A state tournament. This year the two powers should meet in the regional final. The Greyhounds are led by senior all-state guard Emily Reinneck (18.3 ppg) while twin sister Abigail (11.5 ppg.) is also one of the best around. The sisters are both shooting over 43 percent from the 3-point line and have combined for nearly 90 30-point baskets on the season. Okawville, coached by Michelle Hasheider-Burinak, is led by a great defense and senior guard Kathryn Lohman (9.4 ppg.)
NEW ATHENS REGIONAL
Seeds: 2. Christopher, 3. New Athens, 7. Gibault, 8. Wolf Lake Shawnee, 10. Valmeyer
Could Surprise: New Athens
Synopsis: The Christopher Bearcats (12-14) are the higher seed in this regional, but they’ll be hard pressed to beat a New Athens team which returns a few players from a team which advanced to the Class 1A sectional final a year ago. New Athens (13-11) is led by four-sport standout Danika White (17.9 ppg.). Gibault (13-14), always a threat, is paced by Ashlyn Wightman (15.6 ppg.) and Maddie Davis (10.4).
Seeds: 1. Marissa, 4. Steeleville, 5. Elkville, 6. Galatia, 9. Cobden
Could Surprise: Steeleville
Synopsis: The Meteors, who allow only 35 points per game, are an overwhelming favorite to win the regional title. Led by the 1-2 scoring punch of Emily Smith (14.1 ppg) and Bree Portz (13.5 ppg.), Marissa defeated fourth-seeded Steeleville twice by a combined 37 points during the regular season.
Seeds: 2. Althoff, 3. Sesser-Valier, 6. Wesclin, 7. Carlyle, 10. Dupo.
Could Surprise: Sesser-Valier
Synopsis: It’s been a banner year for the Crusaders (18-9) which raced through the South Seven Conference and have been one of the true surprises in metro east area girls basketball during the 2018-19 season. Althoff, which won several close games, is led by a balanced attack paced by Anaya Davis (11.4 ppg.). Tiffani Siekmann, a four-year starter is a terrific 3-point shooter and averages just under 10 poins, while Karinna Gall, an all-state volleyball player, scores at 9.3 ppg. Third-seed Sesser-Valier is no slouch with a 21-5 record and more than capable of pulling off an upset.
Seeds: 1. Nashville, 4. Pinckneyville, 5. Chester, 8. Red Bud, 9. Sparta, 11. Trico
Could Surprise: Pinckneyville
Synopsis: The Hornettes (19-9) rely heavily on a defense which allows only 31 points per game. In two wins over fourth-seeded and River-to-River Conference rival Pinckneyville, Nashville allowed only a combined 47 points. Freshman Alyssa Cole and senior Libby Ahlers lead a disciplined and patient offensive attack, combining for just over 23 points per game.