The high school hoops postseason heats up

Andy Colbert

The difference in Byron’s 52-45 win over DePaul College Prep in the Class 2A girls basketball super-sectional? The Tigers were better schooled, shot better and were able to withstand the pressure.

Watching the game at Elgin Community College the thought came to me that these were nearly identical teams, or as coach Eric Yerly described them, “mirror images.”

Rebounding, turnovers and free throw percentage were fairly even. From the field, Byron shot 44 percent compared to 29 for DePaul.

Byron’s shooting technique was much better, as the DePaul squad had a tendency to be a bit wild on some shots. But, they were the aggressors, playing fearlessly throughout and putting a scare into Byron into the very end.

A positive coming out of the game was seeing a Black female official as part of the three-person crew. This isn’t equal opportunity either, as all officials in the post-season must meet IHSA ranking criteria.

In looking at the IHSA website for state tournament info for the Redbird Arena in Normal, former Oregon sports star Alex Cain was listed as the manager of the event. Cain attended EIU to play baseball and studied sports management.

How good are the Galena girls in basketball?

If you’re a Polo fan who saw your team decisively lose to Orangeville and then see Orangeville get beat 48-17 by Galena, you had to be impressed. Reports I received on the game said that Galena’s defense is suffocating.

After losing 32-31 to Brimfield in the 1A state championship game, the Pirates (33-1) are hungry for their first state title. Its only loss was to Byron.
The Tigers have a much tougher hill to climb with defending champ Quincy Notre Dame the team to beat in 2A. Last year, Winnebago made it to the final against QND and lost 63-56, with QND bringing back most of its starters.

The Byron boys basketball team met an untimely end, though, falling in the regional finals to a Rock Falls team with a losing record. Not only that, but Byron whipped the Rockets by 26 points in the regular-season.

Talk about peaking about the right time. Rock Falls, a No. 6 sub-sectional seed, upset No. 2 Eureka in the regional semis before beating No. 3 Byron.

There is another team present with a lower seed in No. 7 Riverdale. Same deal as Rock Falls – they got hot and had a couple upsets to reach the sectional.

Before its regional final against Erie-Prophetstown, Riverdale was called for a technical foul. Its offense was bringing the wrong colored uniforms.

E-P, which brought both home and away jersey as a precaution, could not take advantage and missed both technical foul shots before the opening tip off.

Riverdale and Rock Falls’ runs will likely soon come to an end, though, with the presence of state-ranked Princeton and Rockridge in the same sectional.

The boys 1A sectional at Eastland is much more balanced with upper seeds Pecatonica (30-4), Fulton (24-9), Scales Mound (29-5) and South Beloit (26-5) squaring off. That promises to be a fun week of basketball watching with all ranked in the top 10 state rankings at various times this season.

Wrestling wrapped up with a combo meet of the girls state individual and boys dual team. Brilliant idea to fill Grossinger Arena in Bloomington.

In looking the one-class girls results, it was primarily Chicago suburban dominating, which makes sense. Occasionally, a small-school wrestler grabbed a medal.

For the second year in a row, nationally-ranked Candence Diduch of Freeport, daughter of former Forreston football coach Denny Diduch, claimed first place.

Andy Colbert is a longtime Ogle County resident with years of experience covering sports and more for multiple area publications.