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Scouting boys basketball sectionals: Tri-Cities
By David Oberhelman | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/5/2012 11:35 PM

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Class 3A Sycamore sectional semifinal

Kaneland (17-10) vs.

Rockford East (18-10)

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Outlook: Kaneland, in its first sectional competition since 1999, out-rebounded Rochelle 42-24 in its 65-61 overtime victory in the Sandwich regional final. That's the type of effort the Knights will need against the E-Rabs. Steve McNease is averaging 15.3 points and 11 rebounds a game, but 22.5 points and 16 rebounds in Rockford East's two regional wins including the Marengo regional final, 56-54 over Belvidere. Senior guard Jovan Henderson averages 9.7 points and 4.5 assists with 14 steals over the past three games, helping coach Roy Sackmaster's E-Rabs force teams to play faster than they'd like. Darshawn Pumphrey-King and C'Vontez Johnson also are key players back from last year's sectional finalist. Kaneland coach Brian Johnson - whose Knights last won a sectional title in 1982, when he was 3 - said every Rockford East player can attack the basket, so having Drew David and the Heinle's, Trever and Tyler, protect the paint will be crucial. Forward Marcel Neil stood tall against Rochelle with 14 rebounds and 21 points including 15-of-17 foul shooting. Thomas Williams scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half and overtime. "Trying to shore up the paint and attack the glass will be real big keys," Johnson said.

Class 3A Sycamore sectional semifinal

Johnsburg (10-18) vs.

Aurora Central (11-17)

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Outlook: Joey McEachern's 18-foot jumper delivered Aurora Central to this promised land with a 51-50 Sandwich regional final win over Yorkville. There should be few Chargers jitters in Sycamore since nearly everyone coach Nathan Drye will use was on last season's team that beat Rockford East to win the Woodstock North sectional title. Against Yorkville McEachern scored 23 points and point guard Anthony Andujar clicked for 6 assists. Forward Robert DeMyers scored a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, plus his usual 5 blocked shots. Rebounding by DeMyers, McEachern, Paul Kaminski and Phil Schuetz will be crucial to Drye's game plan against Johnsburg, which according to McHenry County Sports.com won a second straight game for just the second time this season with its 36-32 regional final victory Richmond-Burton. "We've got to get the game moving," Drye said. "We don't want to play at their pace at all." It was a pace that saw three Johnsburg Skyhawks - 6-3 Marcus Huemann, 6-3 T.J. Sigmund and sophomore Colin Rideout tie for team honors with 7 points apiece. Ward, though, a 6-2 3-shooting forward who clinched the regional final win from the foul line, is No. 1 on Drye's scouting report.

Class 4A East Aurora sectional semifinal

Plainfield East (27-1) vs.

West Aurora (23-5)

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Outlook: It's the Nos. 1 and 4 seeds in this semi (and the Nos. 2-3 in the other with Downers Grove South-Metea Valley). Plainfield East, taken to double-overtime by St. Charles East on Feb. 14 and whose only loss was against Larkin, beat regional host Neuqua Valley 47-45. The Bengals had Deontré Brown on the line for their final point against Neuqua, and fellow guards Mack Brown and Jawan Straughter are awfully tough, but what has made Plainfield East a real force was the development of 6-9 post player Brian Bennett. The Cal-Poly recruit averages about 16 points and 7 rebounds. West's 6-6 Josh McAuley gets the assignment. "I sort of think Bennett might be a little more experienced as a post man, but I don't know if he's any more physical," said West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman. A challenge which the Blackhawks faced and overcame in their 73-56 win over regional host Oswego, was backcourt quickness. It helped that both Jontrel Walker and backcourt mate Jayquan Lee each scored 15 points, and another reason the West won its first regional crown since 2006 was a 36-17 rebounding edge led by Juwan Starks with 10 boards. Starks, who scored 13 points, joined the two guards plus McAuley and Spencer Thomas in double figures. "How we handle that pressure is going to be a major key, and how we rebound and defend," Kerkman said.

Downers Grove South (23-5) vs.

Metea Valley (24-4)

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Outlook: Downers South just won the program's 17th regional title while Metea Valley claimed its first. Regardless, Friday's comeback win over Benet showed Metea Valley's ability to thrive under playoff pressure. Defense has been the key for Metea, especially in the two regional games, and that focus remains against Downers South's potent backcourt of Jerron Wilbut and Jamall Millison. Expect to see Ryan Solomon on Wilbut, who's averaging 18.7 points. Dealing with Metea Valley's offensive balance is Downers South's challenge. Four players average between 8 points and Kenny Obendorf's team-high 17.2 points.

Class 3A Glenbard South sectional semifinal

St. Francis (19-7) vs.

Crane (18-6)

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Outlook: St. Francis achieved every defensive goal to stun No. 1 seed Orr 39-36 in the Wheaton Academy regional final. Spartans coach Bob Ward said those successes must be repeated against Crane, a 69-57 winner over regional host Riverside-Brookfield. Crane offers 6-4 Willie Conner, an all-Public League player; 6-5 Kendall Sidney; 6-8, 260-pound Kaylen Shane; and sophomore guard Isaiah Hayes, who scored 32 against R-B. Crane won't underestimate St. Francis after it held Orr to 10 second-half points in a dominant defensive outing by Nick Donati, Brian Spahn, Tim Zettinger, Jason Pisarski, Zach Roswold and Ryan Coyle.

Class 4A Schaumburg sectional semifinal

Proviso East (28-0) vs.

Lake Park (20-8)

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Outlook: Proviso East's 61-58 victory over Glenbard North at the Pirates' own regional final did not include two starters. They'll be back to face the Lancers, adding more quickness to a team that thrives on turning defense into offense. Paris Lee scored 16 points against Glenbard North, and great point guard Keith Carter had 9. Lake Park won its own regional beating York 60-56 behind Dominique Spencer's 25 points. Against Proviso's great press, Lancers coach Josh Virostko hopes Spencer, Nick Zanghi and Steve Wuthrich can passing over the top of it to taller Zach Wagner, Jeremy Caboor and Dave Prentis, all 6-4 and up.