Rolling Meadows and Brian Nelms are shooting for the program's first regional title since 2001.
Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer
Two conference champions.
One playing at home and the other not far from it in today's 7:30 p.m. Class 4A boys basketball regional final.
East Suburban Catholic Conference champ and No. 2 seed St. Viator (24-3) has a tough road test at Mid-Suburban East champ and No. 10 seed Rolling Meadows (17-10).
"The place should be rocking and it should be a great atmosphere," said Meadows coach Kevin Katovich of his team's first regional final since 2001.
Meadows has four-year starting point guard Brian Nelms to handle the pressure but the question is if Viator senior point guard D.J. Morris can put enough stress on his sprained right ankle to play.
Viator coach Mike Howland said Morris saw a doctor Wednesday and the outlook was optimistic.
"I think he's going to try to go and we'll see how he looks in warm-ups," Howland said. "He's been banged up but he's a tough kid and he's recovered quickly in the past."
Freshman backup Mark Falotico also hurt an ankle in practice and didn't play Tuesday. Howland said his return is a possibility with junior Mayo Arogundade ready to step in against Meadows' matchup zone if Morris and Falotico can't play.
"He did a good job (Tuesday) and he's played a ton of minutes and started games for us," Howland said. "The matchup is a little different look and we saw it way back when (November) against Conant. We've been working a lot the last three weeks on zone offense in general but the matchup poses different problems and they play it well."
Katovich knows the Mustangs will have to in order to win their first regional since 2001 against Viator's balanced offense led by Kevin Walsh, Ore Arogundade, Chris Myjak and Morris.
"Even without Morris they're still unbelievable," Katovich said. "There aren't a whole lot of weaknesses."
Viator's tough man-to-man will be challenged by Nelms, Tyler Gaedele on the outside and Michael Rose inside. Gaedele had a career-high 34 points and his nine 3-pointers in Wednesday's 78-73 win over Libertyville broke the Meadows record of eight by Bryan Porter and Richie Kemph.
"Nelms does a great job of running the show and distributing it well and when he needs to score, he goes and scores," Howland said. "Gaedele has a lightning-quick release and obviously we need to know where he's at at all times."
Viator is looking to break the single-season school record for wins set two years ago by the 3A supersectional qualifier and is going for its fourth regional crown. Meadows is going for its seventh regional title.
The winner advances to Wednesday's 7:30 p.m. Barrington sectional semifinal against the Mundelein-Lake Zurich winner at Zion-Benton.
Nearby rivals hit the road: Schaumburg coach Matt Walsh joked about moving its 4A regional final with MSL West rival Conant from Glenbard West to a closer neutral site.
Going to Glen Ellyn won't diminish the interest or intrigue, however, at 7:30 p.m. today when the third-seeded Saxons (22-5) try to beat the No. 11 Cougars (14-13) for the third time.
MSL champion Schaumburg won 48-44 and 43-29 in the matchups of the league's stingiest teams. The Saxons allow 46.1 points a game and the Cougars allow 45.3.
"Defensively they're so solid," said Conant coach Tom McCormack. "Finding ways to score against them is what makes them really, really good. Hopefully we'll be able crack that."
Conant had one of its best offensive games as it hit 28 of 35 free throws in Wednesday's 61-58 double-overtime win over Glenbard West. It was only the second win in 10 games decided by 5 points or less for the Cougars.
"(Sean) Bourke and (Josh) Copher and the four other seniors have hung in there through a lot," McCormack said. "The younger guys have jumped on board and (Tim) Manczko has really stepped up for us."
Manczko had only 2 points in the second loss to Schaumburg but responded with 23 against St. Joseph, 15 against Wheeling and 25 against Glenbard West.
Schaumburg had no letdown from its MSL title victory as Christian Spandiary erupted for a career-high 40 points and the team won for the 13th time in 14 tries 72-55 over Proviso West on Tuesday.
"It was really done out of our style of play," Walsh said of Spandiary hitting 11-for-14 shots from the field and 14 of 15 free throws. "His teammates had a lot to do with it."
But the points on both sides figure to be much tougher to find tonight.
"They're a good team that's gotten better throughout the course of the season," Walsh said. "And I feel we're a good team that has gotten better."
The Saxons are going for their third straight regional title for the third time (1994-96, 1999-2001) and 15th in history. Conant is also going for its 15th and first since 2007.
The winner advances to Wednesday's 7:30 p.m. Schaumburg sectional semifinal against Oak Park-River Forest or Morton from the Lyons sectional.
Scouting a regional final rematch: The venue is a few miles to the northeast but the opponents are the same when No. 5 Lake Forest (17-9) faces No. 13 Fremd (17-11) in today's 7:30 p.m. 4A regional final at Palatine.
Last year, Fremd was on its home floor when it rallied from a 5-point halftime deficit to beat the Scouts 44-38 for the regional title.
Lake Forest has recovered from a 3-6 start and is one of only three teams to beat St. Viator. Six-4 senior Thomas Durett has led the team in scoring the last two years and there is a sizable challenge for the Vikings in 6-9 Creighton Titus and impressive 6-7 freshman Evan Boudreaux.
"They run a lot of the same stuff and they do a nice job of executing what they want to run," said Fremd coach Bob Widlowski. "We have some big guards who can match up with them and it will be a big test for Adam (6-6 senior Gorecki) against their bigs."
But Gorecki, who saw limited minutes last season, has answered the inside challenges this season. A big key has been 6-4 sophomore Riley Glassmann overcoming early-season back and knee injuries.
"He's feeling the best he's felt in quite awihle," Widlowski said of Glassmann, who saw time in last year's regional final along with senior guard Garrett Peters. "The difference is he's gotten to practice and the more practice he's had the better he's played."
After surviving Monday's 50-48 quarterfinal scare to Palatine, the Vikings took care of No. 4 Waukegan 71-54 on Tuesday as Glassmann, Peters, Gorecki, Sean Benka and Nate Serviss scored in double figures.
"It was probably one of the best games we've played all season," Widlowski said. "I thought the kids had a good focus after the Palatine game. On a one-day turnaround they really did a nice job of executing what we did with only one walk-through."
The winner advances to Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. Barrington sectional semifinal against the Mundelein-Lake Zurich winner at Zion-Benton. Fremd is trying to win consecutive regional titles for the first time since 1997-98.
Knights battle to end: Prospect's season was typified in the way it cut an 11-point deficit with three minutes left to five before falling 48-41 to Stevenson in Wednesday's 4A regional semifinal.
"I'm glad the guys kept fighting," said Prospect senior guard and career scoring leader Mike LaTulip. "I'm really proud of these guys. We struggled offensively and weren't getting our normal looks but I'm proud of what we did on the defensive end in the first half."
Prospect fell to 9-6 with a 67-59 loss to Rolling Meadows but rebounded to win eight of its last 11 games.
"There were a couple points where the season could have gone in a different direction," said Prospect coach John Camardella. "We had some major statement wins and made a good run the second half of the season. It was a really great group of guys."
And the Knights will have to replace one of the school's best players in LaTulip. He said he still plans to go to Illinois as a preferred walk-on despite the team's second-half struggles that have turned up the pressure on head coach Bruce Weber.
"I'm going to stick to my word and stay there regardless of what happens," LaTulip said. "I don't think my body has matured to where it needs to be to play high-level Division I basketball. I have to work on my speed and with strength comes the ability to handle the ball better."
Huskies don't just roll over: Evidence that Hersey wasn't going to shy away from a challenge showed as it continued to attack Warren and had 7 first-half shots blocked by 6-9 Nathan Boothe.
That fearlessness saw Hersey lead well into the third quarter before finally running out of gas in a 65-50 loss to the top-seeded Blue Devils.
"It was really fun," Hersey coach Steve Messer said of the torrid start that fueled the upset bid.
Senior Sean Reszotko came out and shot 4-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half.
"I shot with confidence and my teammates were getting me open and setting good screens and feeding me the ball," Reszotko said. "You have to keep up the intensity and energy and I thought we did through the first half. The third quarter (23-10 for Warren) really killed us."
But the pain of losing was eased by the shot Hersey took at one of the favorites to reach Peoria.
"I'm so proud of the kids and I've been proud of them all year," Messer said. "They're fantastic kids who gave a great effort.
"We have to kick them out of the weight room and kick them out of the gym. They won't have any regrets."
Nice finish to new beginning: Hoffman Estates joined a large club of victims of 27-0 Proviso East in Tuesday's 4A regional semifinal.
Getting that opportunity was part of the building process for Hoffman coach Luke Yanule after his first team finished 9-16.
"It was great to see how we have to compete in the spring and summer and in the weight room to get better," Yanule said after the 68-43 loss to Proviso East.
Senior scoring leader Austin Terry led the Hawks to a 4-3 finish which included a 77-73 overtime win over Barrington.
"We definitely played our best basketball at the end of the year," Yanule said. "The seniors, I can't say enough about the standard they set for the program. It was a great group of kids."
Lots of Hauert for Palatine: Tom Hauert fouled out of his final game in a Palatine uniform with 5.6 seconds left in Monday's 50-48 regional loss to Fremd.
But Hauert also drew three first-half charging fouls to help fuel the Pirates' upset bid.
"Tommy's heart kind of led us tonight," said Palatine coach Eric Millstone. "He a tough-nosed kid.
"What he doesn't do in the scoring column he's going to do in the locker room and by doing all the little things. He plays by example."