IHSA Boys Playoff Weekend Recap

We are a week separated from the IHSA 3A and 4A Boys Playoffs now and I am now getting around to the recap. I spent last Friday and Saturday in Peoria photographing as many games as I could.

I found out one cannot photograph and process all the games in real time. Two games per day is about all I can do and get galleries and stories up on a timely fashion.

As for the games themselves, they did not disappoint. Well, except for the first game, where m y DePaul Prep lost to Bogan. The Rams had good shots early but they would not fall. Credit to Bogan. They put on a stellar defense effort basically shutting down everyone on DePaul except Perry Cowen. After that East St. Louis impressed against a tough and scrappy Peoria Manual team in a very entertaining battle.

4A was especially fun. I have seen Evanston five times this year and a couple times last year. Very good and entertaining team. Extremely well coached. Sr. guard Jaheim Holden has to be one of the most exciting players I have seen in the past few years. The Wildkits handles Rochford East who I had not seen. Evanston posses so many matchup problems. Rockford constantly lost track of sophomore Blake Peters and he made them pay. Peters was 7 for 8 from beyond the arc—just deadly.

Then the biggest game of the season so far, Curie v. Beilleville West. E.J. Liddell is better than advertised. Gonna be star at the next level. He has it all. Curie lost composure at the end. The Condors just ran out magic and one by one their best players fouled out.

DePaul Prep refocused and came out wanting to end the season with a win in the 3A Third Place game on Saturday morning. They did just that, soundly defeating a Peoria Manuel team that did not want to be there.

Frankly, I was busy working on photos of the DePaul v. Manuel game and I didn’t see much of the 4A Third Place game. As I recall, Curie won but what I remember is that they didn’t want to be there eight.

Then the premier Evanston v. Belleville West 4A Championship on Saturday night. What a game! It was tough for the Maroons to matchup against Evanston early. The Wildkits came out running and opened a seven point half time lead. As good as the Wildkits looked, Belleville West was playing Evanston’s game and stayed right with the Kits. One just got the feeling at the half that the Maroons would overcome.

That they did. No three pointers for Blake Peters. E.J. Liddell got the ball inside and either scored or dished it off for an easy backdoor bucket. The Maroons overcame and pulled away. It was quite a show.

And then, all the sudden, it was over. Time to go back to Chicago. It just left me wanting more.

Thanks to all for another wonderful high school basketball season. The R-B summer tournament will be here soon. Then the Thanksgiving tournaments. See you then.

As for the photos, these are a few good ones I got over both days. I hope you like them.

Loyola Throttles Maine South 17-0 in 8A Quarterfinal

It is better to finish strong than start strong. Despite three losses Chicago Catholic League Blue early in the season, the Ramblers looked as dominant on defense Saturday against Maine South as any team I have seen this season.

Make no mistake about it. Maine South is a very good football team. Maine South came back in the second half to beat a very good Mount Carmel team. The Hawks made a believer out of me. Nevertheless, the Ramblers played a flawless game on defense and a brilliantly conservative and physical game on offense to shut out Maine South at Maine South.

Lincoln-Way East will have to go to Wilmette to face the Ramblers. Lincoln-Way has played some tough teams, Crete-Monee, Naperville Central, Thornwood. But they don’t play in the Catholic League’s Blue Division and they did not face Mt. Carmel, Brother Rice and Montini.

I am looking forward to this game. The semi-final should be a very good game.

Which brings me to a second subject—the dominance of the Catholic Schools in the football playoffs this year. In 8A, three of the four surviving teams are Catholic Schools: Brother Rice, Marist and Loyola. 7A has Nazareth and Mt. Carmel. 6A has Notre Dame. 5A has Joliet Catholic and Montini. 4A has Immaculate Conception and Bishop McNamara. 2A has St. Teresa (Decatur, Illinois). That’s eleven of the thirty-two teams. That’s basically 1/3 of all eight classes and half of the biggest classes.

How did this happen? Don’t know. I don’t even want to speculate.

What’s gonna happen? There will be some talk, in the usual quarters, about kicking private schools out of the IHSA. Don’t want to go there either. I’m sure we have all heard quite enough of the multiplier talk.

Personally, I think it will swing back. The DuPage Valley restructured. It will be back. And who knows what is going to happen with the Catholic Super Conference next year.

I am struggling about what to do about the finals. The football finals are the same time as the start of the basketball season. What is a photographer to do?