Defending champ St. Bede will be prime for another regional championship when the Princeton 2A regional opens up Monday night at Prouty Gym.
The top-seeded Lady Bruins (24-5) stand 7-0 against the regional field as a heavy favorite, including five victories over its semifinal opponent, either Princeton (3-0) or Mendota (2-0). They beat 2 seed Kewanee in the Lady Bruin Classic as well as Hall along the way.
“There are a lot of familiar names in the tournament for us, teams we have played,” SBA coach Tom McGunnigal said. “At this time you want to be playing your best basketball and I feel this team has really come together throughout the season. Hopefully that will lead to some good things for our team in the postseason.”
Kewanee coach Chuck Blake is a veteran of postseasons with stops at Neponset and Wethersfield along the way. While he gives a big nod to St. Bede, he knows strange things can happen.
“On paper it would appear to be St. Bede in a walk, but luckily games will be played on hardwood and not paper pulp,” said Blake, whose Boilermakers take a 20-6 record into Saturday’s season finale against Morrison.
The Lady Bruins got a boost this week with the re-eligiblity of junior post Mo Dean.
The host Tigresses (14-14) put a good stretch together, winning three straight over Rock Falls, Roanoke-Benson and L-P from Jan. 21-24, but took a tumble with lopsided losses to Hall and St. Bede. PHS coach Matt Huber knows his squad will have to be back on the upswing against Mendota, whom they lost to 32-28 Jan. 5, and St. Bede if they are able to advance into the semifinals.
“I think the regional shapes up to be a pretty good one. St. Bede is the top seed and is well deserving of that seed. I think they are the favorites to win the title,” Huber said. “We have a good opportunity with the tournament being on our home floor. We have played pretty well at home this season. The postseason is always an exciting time of the year.”
Hall coach Dave Kain said the Lady Devils needed Thursday’s bounce-back win over Midland after Tuesday’s “devastating” loss to L-P, a game in which Hall committed 29 turnovers. How the Lady Devils fare at regionals will all come down to his three seniors — Kelly Nett, Liz Mosbach and his daughter, Jaclyn.
“They’re seniors, they’ve been through it before. The three seniors have to lead by example,” coach Kain said. “I think we can get into the championship hopefully and then we’ll let the chips fall where they may there. St. Bede’s a good team, they beat us earlier in the year, but we didn’t have Liz either.”
Hall will open against Bureau Valley (1-26), which has not won a game since Thanksgiving. The Hall-BV winner feeds into Chuck Blake’s No. 2 seeded Kewanee Boilermakers, who Kain describes as a “run and gun team that shoots the 3.”
Amboy 1A regional: Two area teams, LaMoille/Ohio and DePue, will face off in the small-school division at the Amboy 1A regional. The Lady Lions beat the Lady Little Giants 57-28 in a regional preview and have a favorable rematch. However, L/O coach Bill Stouffer knows the going will get much more tougher ahead with top-seeded Annawan, the No. 1 ranked team in 1A, looming ahead in Wednesday’s semifinals.
“We played DePue last week, so we’ve got a good feel for them. I anticipate good things coming out of that game,” Stouffer said. “We’d get to go against Annawan Wednesday if we win. I believe of all the teams I’ve seen this year, their No. 1 ranking is well-deserved going into regionals.
“I told the girls were going to go into that one pretty open minded. That’d be one whale of an upset if we’d win that one.”
LaMoille/Ohio won just one out of their first 23 games of the year, but have taken three out of their last four heading into the postseason. Stouffer knows he’ll need to try to pull out all the stops against Annawan.