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Downers Grove

Playoff time is here for Downers Grove North and South, Benet

The Class 3A and 4A boys basketball playoffs tip off next week, and while teams from the area will head different directions at the start of the postseason, the end goal is the same — to reach Carver Arena in Peoria for the state finals March 21 and 22.


Class: 4A

Regional: Lemont

Sectional: East Aurora

Seed: No. 1

First game: 6 p.m. Tuesday vs. No. 16 Lemont or No. 17 Oswego East

Outlook: The Redwings’ 16-7 record as of Feb. 21 may not look all that impressive, but they definitely earned their No. 1 seed in the sectional.

Benet has not lost to a team with a losing record, and in defeats against Fenwick, Marian Catholic, St. Viator and Stevenson, last year’s state runner-up, the Redwings have faced some of the best teams and players in the state.

Sean O’Mara, a 6-foot-9 Xavier recruit, is the centerpiece of Benet’s offense and is one of the top post players in the state. The senior is a dangerous player in the paint, both offensively and defensively, but the Redwings also have a host of dangerous shooters, Collin Pellettieri, Colin Bonnett and Liam Nelligan among them, that complement O’Mara’s play.

Benet advanced to the sectional championship game last season, and a similar playoff run isn’t out of the question this year. If the Redwings win their playoff opener, they will advance to the regional title game at 7 p.m. March 7, where they would face either No. 8 Waubonsie Valley or No. 9 Naperville North.


Class: 4A

Regional: Plainfield East

Sectional: East Aurora

Seed: No. 3

First game: 7 p.m. Tuesday vs. No. 14 Downers Grove South or No. 19 Batavia

Outlook: This time last year, Ben Moore was starring for Bolingbrook’s basketball team. He is now a freshman standout at SMU, and the Raiders are shining without him.

Gage Davis (IPFW) and Kenny Williams (Eastern Michigan) are college-bound seniors, and Prentiss Nixon and Julian Torres are juniors who seem destined to play at the next level, but the Raiders’ core goes deeper than that.

Josh Dillingham, Shakur Triplett, C.J. Redmond, Devon Sams and Brodric Thomas have also had standout games this season, and that depth should serve Bolingbrook well in the postseason.

The outright champions of the SouthWest Suburban Blue conference, the Raiders would move on to the regional title game at 7 p.m. March 7 with a win against DGS or Batavia.

Downers Grove North

Class: 4A

Regional: Naperville Central

Sectional: East Aurora

Seed: No. 20

First game: 6 p.m. Monday vs. No. 13 Hinsdale South

Outlook: It has been a tough up and down season for the Trojans so far, but they have the pieces in place to make some noise in the postseason.

In 6-foot-7 junior forward David Edwards and 6-5
sophomore Matt Mahlke, North has a solid presence in the paint.

Guard Myles Farley and forward Ray Greco provide veteran leadership, while sophomore and varsity newcomer Devin Blake is an explosive playmaker that creates matchup problems for opposing defenses.

Hinsdale South has size to match with 6-foot-8 Barret Benson, and Larry Motuzis is another playmaker to keep an eye on.

With a win over the Hornets, the Trojans would face No. 4 Hinsdale Central in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Downers Grove South

Class: 4A

Regional: Plainfield East

Sectional: East Aurora

Seed: No. 14

First game: 6 p.m. Monday vs. No. 19 Batavia

Outlook: South is not blessed with an abundance of size, so the secret to the Mustangs’ success is no secret. Anyone that has seen them play knows their strength is the outside shot. But knowing about it and stopping it are two different things, and since the calendar flipped to 2014, South has been on fire from long range.

Danny Spinuzza, Paul Engo III, Wes Dahle, Kovas Rugienius, Mantas Augustinavicius and Matt Zinnecker can all bury the 3-pointer, but teams that over-commit to defending the perimeter pay the price because all those players, plus Darryl Howard, Javon Turner and DeAndre Washington, are all capable of slashing to the hoop and finishing at the rim.

If the Mustangs can move past Batavia, they would face Bolingbrook in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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