Southwest Prairie Conference IHSA 4A State Finals Playoff Outlook

Southwest Prairie Conference IHSA 4A State Finals Playoff Outlook

Southwest Prairie Conference IHSA 4A State Finals Playoff Outlook

High School March Madness will officially begin for Class 3A and 4A Teams on Monday Night and it looks like a tough road ahead for Southwest Prairie Teams in the IHSA State Playoffs. That is not to say that the SPC can't snag a State Title if they get hot. Especially when it comes to the top four teams: Plainfield East, Plainfield North, Plainfield South and Minooka.

Matter of fact, about the only team that doesn't seem to stand a chance (this season) are the Romeoville Spartans. Their overall record was a disappointing 3-23 and were a winless 0-14 in conference play. The funny thing is that they are not all that bad a team talent wise it is just that they couldn't put together a solid four quarters this season. And that doesn't bode well as they must open against a very hot Trevor Stumpe and the Plainfield North Tigers (19-7, 10-4) in the opening game of the West Aurora Regional.

Speaking of Plainfield North - they have the capability of going deep but they must dispose of Naperville Neuqua Valley (providing they aren't upset in the opening game) in the Regional Semi-Finals before making a serious run. Neuqua, it seems, have had good success against SPC Teams over the years. They posted a 1-1 this season by posting an 82-69 Win versus over Oswego East and losing a 61-58 squeaker versus Plainfield East. But they are a 20 Win Team and in High School Basketball that's a good season.

Plainfield North, meanwhile, did not play any teams from the Upstate Eight this season but did play some outstanding competition on the way to winning the Joliet West Thanksgiving Invite with an 70-53 Win over Richton Park's Rich South and taking the Consolation Title in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament with a 50-47 Win over Lockport Township. Their only loss of the tournament was the opening game versus Gurnee Warren before rebounding with impressive wins over Pontiac and Danville.

So are the Tigers capable? You bet they are! And Trevor Stumpe has been much of the reason. The Junior Guard has not only exploded this season but became Plainfield North's All-Time leading scorer with 1,176 Points after scoring 33 versus the Oswego East Wolves in their final regular season game of the season. Quite an achievement and next season ought to be a blast!

Getting back to this season, though. Opposing teams will not only have a hard time defending Trevor Stumpe (6'-5") but will have their hands full trying to keep Jake Nowak (6'-3") and Kevin Kreiger (6'-4") from scoring as well. And when it comes to Defense, well Cody Conway (6'-7") and his back-up Kyle Speas (6'-6") can out-jump and out-rebound with the best of them. And then there's Isiah Webster who compliments Stumpe when it comes to the play-making. All in all, the 2013-14 Plainfield North Tigers have a solid team capable of playing with the best of them and I believe can make a mark on these IHSA State Playoffs.

And that goes for the Aaron Jordan led Plainfield East Bengals (18-9, 11-3). The Bengals won the SPC outright in their final conference game of the season to avoid a three-way tie with Plainfield North and Plainfield South. And they earned it after the Plainfield South Cougars (14-12, 10-4) temporarily claimed the top spot with a last-shot 71-69 Win just as time expired. But give the Bengals credit, they regrouped to win their final three conference games for the SPC title.

Plainfield East gets to host their Regional Round and playing at home and that's a plus. But they are in a tough regional and while I see them beating Wheaton-Warrenville South in the opener, a semifinal match-up versus the Geneva Vikings (22-5) will need a complete team effort. The Bengals' Aaron Jordan has a really good supporting cast, but how Jordan goes is generally how Plainfield East goes and I can foresee some tight defending here. Can the Bengals win? Sure they can win, especially with a home court advantage. But this will be the test match for the Bengals. Aaron Jordan, Tristin Esker, Myles Ward, Cole Kotopka and the rest of the gang will need their absolute best in order to advance to the Regional Final. Either way - this is one of the early round "must see" games!

The Plainfield South Cougars (14-12, 10-4) have been something of an enigma this season. Hey this is a really good team folks but I have to tell you there have been some games where they should have won but didn't. And that kind of concerns me. Especially what I perceive to be a "lack of concentration" late in games. For instance, their 83-71 Win over Oswego East on February 21st looks as though it was a comfortable win but there were also moments where the Cougars let the Wolves right back in the game and/or tighten it up with some lackadaisical ball-handling.

And that just cannot happen in this Regional!

The Cougars should get past Chicago Washington but the semifinal round has Chicago Heights Bloom Township waiting for the winner. And the Bloom Blazin Trojan (17-8) has the type of team which can make some serious noise in these IHSA Playoffs. But I have to believe that the Cougars stack up well here with Shane Ritter, Miles Snowden and Corey Evers leading the way. The Cougars have a great supporting cast and when they are on - they are on! And given the fact that they have played some pretty tough teams this season would think that that experience could get them through this round (or least to the Regional Final). But they cannot afford to make bad turnovers or get into foul trouble.

They definitely have the team to compete!

And that can be said of the Minooka Indians (14-14, 8-6) as well. They have a good core of players and they play well together as a team. The Indians will open up against Frankfort Lincoln-Way North Phoenix (3-21) in the Blue Island Eisenhower Regional and should win their opener. Oak Forest (21-5) lies in wait for the winner and South Suburban Blue foe is a much tougher opponent with Armon Williams and David Gray leading the way.

Minooka's defense, though, has a knack for slowing things down as shown in the opening game of the Galesburg Tournament versus Gurnee Warren. The Indians lost in the title game to the host but I think that that tournament showed they can play against varying styles. As in any sport, teams limiting their mistakes against the good teams is what keeps you in it - and that is exactly what the Indians will need to do in order to get to this Regional Final. Again, they have a good core of players and if they play to their capabilities, well I think they can play with the teams in this Regional.

So far as the other teams in the SPC go? Well just remember that anything can happen, especially in the playoffs. The key, of course, is to limit the mistakes and if the game appears to be slipping away then well-timed timeouts can (and often do) change the tempo of the contest. Plainfield Central, Oswego and Oswego East all have tough games in tough Regionals ahead of them and it will take a certain level of play to advance and I am hoping that they will rise to the challenge.

Matter of fact, I root for all the teams of the Southwest Prairie because they are who I follow most. Perhaps I am biased, but I have always believed that there is some terrific talent in our conference and that the day will come when it will be as feared as some of the other "power conferences."

Now I know we aren't quite there yet - but we are getting there because the programs are getting better overall.

So lets let the games begin and see how we stack up, but I hoping for some real surprises this year, you know?

Southwest Prairie Conference IHSA State Playoff Schedule:
(Note: Semifinal Game Based On Winning Quarterfinal)

Minooka Indians
[Season Record: 14-14, 8-6]
Blue Island Eisenhower Regional
Mon  03/03/2014  8pm  Quarterfinal vs. Frankfort Lincoln-Way North
Tues 03/04/2014  8pm  Semifinal vs Oak Forest

Oswego Panthers
[Season Record: 11-15, 6-8]
West Aurora Regional
Mon  03/03/2014  8pm  Quarterfinal vs.Yorkville
Tues 03/04/2014  7pm  Semifinal vs. West Aurora

Oswego East Wolves
[Season Record: 9-17, 4-10]
Lemont Regional
Mon  03/03/2014  7pm Quarterfinal vs. Lemont H.S.
Tues 03/04/2014  6pm Semifinal vs. Lisle Benet Academy

Plainfield Central Wildcats
[Season Record: 14-12, 7-7]
Plainfield Central Regional
Mon  03/03/2014  7pm  Quarterfinal vs. Cal City Thornton Fractional North
Tues 03/04/2014  6pm  Semifinal vs. Chicago Heights Marian Catholic

Plainfield East Bengals
[Season Record: 18-9, 11-3]
Plainfield East Regional
Mon  03/03/2014  8pm  Quarterfinal vs. Wheaton-Warrenville South
Wed  03/05/2014  7pm   Semifinal vs. Geneva

Plainfield North Tigers
[Season Record: 19-7, 10-4]
West Aurora Regional
Mon  03/03/2014  8pm  Quarterfinal vs. Romeoville
Wed  03/05/2014  7pm   Semifinal vs. Naperville Neuqua Valley

Plainfield South Cougars
[Season Record: 14-12, 10-4]
Chicago Heights Bloom Twp Regional
Mon  03/03/2014  6pm  Quarterfinal vs. Chicago Washington
Tues 03/04/2014  6pm  Semifinal vs Chicago Heights Bloom Twp

Romeoville Spartans
[Season Record: 3-23, 0-14]
West Aurora Regional
Mon  03/03/2014  8pm  Quarterfinal vs. Plainfield North
Wed  03/05/2014  7pm   Semifinal vs. Naperville Neuqua Valley

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