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State tournament projections came bubbling up after Neuqua Valley's 39-point win at Downers Grove South on Saturday, but overlooked in that was how the Wildcats now can win the Upstate Eight Conference outright. They can thank South Elgin, which on Friday handed St. Charles North its second conference loss.

Neuqua (26-1, 8-1) can clinch it outright with a victory Friday against visiting Larkin (6-18). That means a team that hasn't lost a game since December against a team that hasn't won a game since that very same month. Last season Neuqua earned the title with a win on Larkin's floor in the regular-season finale.

Neuqua Valley destroyed Downers Grove South - a team that beat Naperville Central by five points last month - during a 70-31 victory on Saturday night, an effort that pushed the Wildcats to No. 8 in the Chicago Sun-Times rankings. Guard Rahjan Muhammad led the Wildcats (26-1) with 17 points as they extended their winning streak to 18.

Central, the DuPage Valley Conference champion, remained at No. 20 in the same poll, and look for a common opponent like Downers Grove South to be a reference point come March. Basketball's chattering class continues to talk up Neuqua as a state title contender.

Roy and Harv Schmidt of Illinois Prep Bulls-eye predict that Neuqua will beat either Central or Bolingbrook for the sectional title and then take care of Rockton Hononegah in the DeKalb Super-Sectional to earn a trip to Peoria.

After Saturday's performance in Downers Grove, what are your predictions for the Oswego East Sectional and beyond?

February 2009: Monthly Archives

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Brad Engel

Brad Engel is the longest-tenured member of The Sun sports staff and has won several national and state awards in his coverage of preps as well as the Chicago Bears, Chicago Fire and general sports.

Patrick Mooney

Patrick Mooney covered politics, prep sports and professional baseball for several print and online media outlets before joining The Sun in August 2007. He concentrates on prep sports, writing features, profiles and breaking recruiting news.

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