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DARIEN - Neuqua Valley waited three days to play a game that was postponed twice. But then things started happening real quick in this regional championship. Neuqua has less than 24 hours to enjoy it.

The Wildcats fell behind by five runs, and then scored 14 unanswered to knock out No. 4 Plainfield North with a 15-6 victory on Tuesday in Darien. No. 5 Neuqua (25-11) advances to face No. 16 Providence Catholic (20-15) tonight in the semifinals of the Class 4A Lockport Sectional.

Jordan Williamson hit two solo home runs against the Tigers (27-7). Joe Ippolito lifted the solo home run in the fifth that gave Neuqua the go-ahead run and a 7-6 lead. The next inning saw Alex Lincoln add a two-run shot.

With that type of production throughout the lineup, Mike McKinley (6-3) received some breathing room. The Indiana recruit recovered from a rocky start -- he gave up back-to-back homers in the third -- and began relying more on his curveball. McKinley retired the final 12 batters he faced in a complete-game effort, finishing with 10 strikeouts.


CLASS 4A LOCKPORT SECTIONAL
Tuesday

No. 4 Plainfield North (27-6) vs. No. 5 Neuqua Valley (24-11) at Hinsdale South, 4:30 p.m.

At Lockport
Wednesday

Plainfield North-Neuqua Valley winner vs. No. 16 Providence Catholic (20-15), 6 p.m.

Thursday
No. 3 Lockport (26-11) vs. No. 7 Naperville Central (22-14), 6 p.m.

Saturday
Sectional championship, 10 a.m.

Derek Raridon had a big night Tuesday at the Oswego East Sectional, as the 6-foot-6-inch Neuqua Valley forward exploded for 25 points to key a 69-49 victory over Plainfield North. Raridon is a coach's son, but sometimes that's a euphemism for "not athletic." Make no mistake, Raridon can play - the senior was the Upstate Eight Conference player of the year.

For background on this basketball family, be sure to check out Matt Bailey's piece, which details the father-son/coach-player relationship between Todd and Mitch Raridon at North Central College.

"It gets emotional when you see your kid come in as a freshman, those four years go by so quick," Todd said. "I always told my (players) that, but until you experience it with your own son, you don't quite realize just how fast it is."

It will start all over again next season, when Derek goes to play for his father at North Central.

There are no surprise teams left in the Oswego East Sectional. The brackets more or less played out true to form, and each program should feel like it has a good chance to make a run to Peoria.

Neuqua Valley holds steady at No. 8 in the Chicago Sun-Times rankings, while Naperville Central rises to No. 18 after an impressive victory over West Aurora. Bolingbrook and Plainfield North entered the list after winning regional titles. Here's what the rest of the week looks like:

CLASS 4A OSWEGO EAST SECTIONAL
Tuesday

No. 1 Neuqua Valley (29-1) vs. No. 5 Plainfield North (26-4), 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday
No. 2 Naperville Central (26-2) vs. No. 3 Bolingbrook (20-6), 7:30 p.m.
Friday
Championship game, 7:30 p.m.

What are your sectional predictions?

Jelani Johnson.jpgTo get an idea of where Waubonsie Valley was - and where it could be going - compare last week's column off the Conference Challenge Classic and Thursday's Focus piece.

The Warriors (12-11, 4-3) are back above the .500 level with three Upstate Eight Conference games remaining: vs. Elgin (10-14, 2-6) on Friday; at South Elgin (15-6, 4-2) on Feb. 25; and vs. St. Charles East (8-15, 3-5).

That 18-point loss to York could have been a nice showcase game. There weren't many other distractions the first Sunday after the Super Bowl, and Waubonsie was playing on the big floor at Loyola University. Instead, it fell to what Waubonsie coach Steve Weemer described as "an ultimate low."

Weemer asked the same question he's presented to previous teams: "I just old our guys - (the seniors) - 'What kind of mark are you going to leave at Waubonsie?'"

We'll find out over the next few weeks. Waubonsie is seeded No. 12 seed in the Oswego East Sectional and will face No. 21 Wheaton North (7-15) in the opening round. A win there at the East Aurora Regional and it advances to face fifth-seeded Plainfield North.

"(We're) right at the .500 mark. (We're) right in the middle of everything," said Waubonsie senior forward Jelani Johnson (pictured). "Hopefully, we'll get that win and then we'll (play) Plainfield North and show everybody else what we got."

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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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