A couple days ago, I lamented the possibility that no Aurora high school basketball team would make it out of a regional for the second straight year. Well, hope is still alive for three Aurora teams, although each will be an underdog Friday night. We'll see if East Aurora, West Aurora or Aurora Central Catholic can rise to the challenge and pull off a surprise championship.
Here's a rundown of local games that will be played in a gymnasium near you Friday night. All games tip at 7:30 p.m.
Class 4A Plainfield East Regional:
East Aurora vs. Neuqua Valley
God bless those Tomcats, they knocked off a Naperville school Wednesday night. Ryan Boatright (pictured) scored 40 points and East High hit 14 3-pointers to take care of Naperville Central 83-72 in the regional semifinal.
Next, the Tomcats draw the best team out of Naperville this year, Neuqua Valley. The Wildcats won the Upstate Eight Conference and are the No. 2 seed in the sectional complex. In a Feb. 12 meeting between the two teams, Neuqua pounded East on the glass and in the paint to come away with a 74-62 win. There's no way the Tomcats can match up inside, so Boatright and his backcourt buddy Snoop Viser need to dial up a few more 3-pointers for East to prevail Friday.
Class 4A Waubonsie Valley Regional: West Aurora vs. Oswego East
The Blackhawks also helped maintain my civic pride by knocking off favored Naperville North 46-40 on Tuesday night. Legendary coach Gordie Kerkman (696 career wins and counting) went to the old Four Corners, slowing the pace and frustrating the Huskies. West High has struggled all year with ballhandling, and I didn't think the Blackhawks were capable of taking good enough care of the ball to execute a delay game. But it worked against Naperville North.
Will it work against Oswego East? Well, the Wolves are a different animal. They forced 26 turnovers in their 63-53 win over Batavia Wednesday, and they have an athletic and dynamic backcourt in Division I-bound sharpshooter Jay Harris and underrated point guard Wesley Brooks. The Blackhawks must limit turnovers to spring an upset.
Class 3A Aurora Central Catholic Regional: Aurora Central vs. Oswego
The Chargers are at home, but the Panthers are gonna be tough to beat. After finishing second in the state last year, Oswego looks poised for another deep run. I don't think ACC has anybody who can match up with Oswego's post man, Andrew Ziemnik. The Panthers have a young backcourt in freshman point Miles Simelton and sophomore Ryan West, but those kids have been coming through all year. Joey Guth is the leading scorer for ACC, but point guard Steve Hollon is the key to that team. Chargers coach Nate Drye called Hollon "the best player on the floor" in Wednesday's 64-49 win over Marmion. Hollon will need another great game Friday night.
Class 3A Kaneland Regional: Kaneland vs. DeKalb
This is a battle between two future mid-major big men in DeKalb's 6-10 Jordan Threloff and Kaneland's 6-9 Dave Dudzinksi. Threloff is headed to Illinois State. Dudzinski will attend Holy Cross. The two teams met twice in Western Sun Conference play this year, with the Barbs winning both. Will the third time be the charm for the Knights? Well, at least they've got homecourt advantage working for them.
Class 1A Somonauk Sectional: Newark vs. Dwight
If you feel like driving out to Cornpone, there's a sectional game going on in Somonauk. Newark faces a tall task -- literally. Dwight has two kids 6-7 or taller and three others 6-2 or taller. That's unusual for a Class 1A school. We'll see if the Norsemen have enough quickness to overcome their disadvantage in height.