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  MAY 15, 2012

  State Tournament Cheat Sheet: Volume II







The following cheat sheet provides some of the most interesting details pertaining to the upcoming state tournament, which begins on Thursday, May 17 and concludes on Saturday, May 19.


Boys State Quarterfinal Storylines

With the boys' state quarterfinal games just two days away, here are some initial storylines or quotes to consider for each individual game:


SANDBURG VS FREMD: "Experience vs The Great Unknown"

The Eagles qualified for state in 2011, surprised Naperville Central in the quarterfinal round, and finished last year's event in fourth place. Most of their lineup returns from that team, giving them a great deal of experience being in this situation. Their head coach, Jim Caliendo, has loads of experience coaching at this level, both with Sandburg and previously as a state-title winning coach with Fenwick.


Fremd makes their first appearance at the state tournament. Since the IHSA sanctioned water polo as a sport in 2002, the Vikings have never scratched the surface of a potential state berth, so this will be new to each of their players. Their head coach, Brian Newby, has a great deal of state experience with the Vikings' girls team (who also qualified this year), but this is his first season working with the boys team.


This could work in favor of either teams. While most would admit that experience would be a key factor in this situation, the Eagles could face the pressure of repeating their quarterfinal success of the previous season. Sandburg is the favorite entering this game, but they will have to make sure they don't overlook a high-quality Fremd team that shouldn't be feeling the same amount of pressure.


To that end, the Vikings don't face the heat of trying to match their 2011 accomplishments. It might even benefit them to come into this game with a "nothing-to-lose" attitude. If they can get out to an early lead, they might see the pressure mount on their opponents, which may also work in their favor.


LYONS VS NAPERVILLE NORTH: "To Be The Best, You Have To Beat The Best"

Much has been said about Lyons and Fenwick meeting in the sectional finals instead of the state finals. It is probably a topic worth discussing before and after the playoffs, but for now, the Lions have to refocus their efforts on another top five team. Their reward for beating Fenwick is a matchup with one of the most dangerous teams in the state, Naperville North.


The Huskies finally overcame the hurdle that is Naperville Central to qualify for state for the first time since 2007. Their reward is a date with the #1 team that just dethroned a team that won eight-straight state titles. They could easily make an argument for reseeding the teams at state, but instead, they'll need to keep their focus on beating the team that enters the event as the prohibitive favorite. As the quote says, "to be the best, you have to beat the best", and each team enters this contest knowing a win here could propel them to a state title.


For the record, Lyons has won both meetings in 2012. They defeated the Huskies 15-5 in Week 2 at the Fenwick Tournament, then won again in Week 8 by a score of 11-6. LT should be full of confidence after beating Fenwick and knowing they are 2-0 against their opponents, but perhaps North has learned a few things from those games and won't the third time be the charm for the state's top-ranked team.


LOYOLA VS LATIN: "It's Been Awhile"

This storyline works in more than one way. First of all, the Ramblers have beaten the Romans already this year (6-5), but that win came at the tail-end of the first week of the season. Like I's been awhile. Loyola also won a 7-5 game over Latin at the Brother Rice Tournament, but playing at Rice and playing at Stevenson are like two different worlds.


Secondly, Loyola returns to state for the third straight year, looking to better their third place finish from 2011. Latin returns to state for the first time since 2006, when the Romans finished in second-place to Fenwick. None of their current players were around for that run. Once's been awhile.


There are plenty of other factors to look at besides the two-and-a-half month layoff since these teams last met. (1) The experience factor could obviously play an important role in this contest. Loyola has "been there and done that", while Latin's seniors make their first appearance on the grand state at Stevenson High School on Thursday. (2) An even bigger emphasis could be on the defensive play in this game, as both teams are known for their physicality, which could lead to multiple ejections and possible game expulsions, which Latin experience at sectionals as well. (3) Which star player will get the most opportunities to lead their team offensively, Loyola's Charlie Dowdle or Latin's Jacob Himmel?


STEVENSON VS LOCKPORT: "North Meets South & Nice To Meet You"

I've been digging through my notes and can't find any record of Stevenson meeting Lockport in a game. Ever. That could make things quite interesting in the late game on Thursday night, because neither team will know what to expect when they hit the water to face their competition. Does that factor have any benefit at all to either team? It's hard to say until about one quarter is completed.


Otherwise, this comes about as close to North vs South as you can get when it comes to water polo in the state of Illinois. The Porters make the long journey to Lincolnshire on Thursday to participate in their first-ever state tournament. On the flip side, the Patriots have the comfort of playing in their home pool and have a head coach and two seniors who last qualified for state in 2009. That was quite a long time ago when Evan Woodward and Hasan Khan were freshmen, so that might not play much of a role in the game's outcome either way.


What this game probably will come down to is which team can make the right adjustments once they get a feel for what the other team is trying to accomplish. It's a game where the second half could look much different than the first half, where an unheralded player makes a big difference, and where anything can happen. Wouldn't want to miss this game just for the unpredictability of it. Neither should you.

For The Uninitiated

Since there are new teams, new players, and new fans heading to the event this year, here are some notes about the logistics of the tournament:


-The four quarterfinal games are played on Thursday at intervals of one hour and fifteen minutes.

-Teams will have enough time for a full warm-up, regardless of the time length of the previous game

-Full lineups will be announced before the start of each game; bench players first, followed by starters

-Teams that win on Thursday advance to play two games on Saturday; teams that lose are eliminated

-If a team wins on Thursday, they play in Saturday's semifinal and either a consolation or title game

-There is a one hour break between the semifinals and final games to clear the pool and bleacher area

-Stevenson provides a fully-stocked concession stand in the lobby area of the facility

-There is ample parking available in most cases other than around the championship games

-Enjoy the experience!


Volume III: Coming soon...






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