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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.

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."

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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