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
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
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 said...it'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
again...it'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
-There is ample parking available in most cases other than around the
-Enjoy the experience!
Volume III: Coming soon...