By Matt Nestor
Seeding for the IHSA regionals, which begin Feb. 28, have been announced for all classes.
Teams from the NIC-10 have been split into two classes, as a result of the size of the schools.
East, Belvidere, Belvidere North and Freeport will all compete in Class 3A. Auburn, Hononegah, Boylan, Harlem, Guilford and Jefferson will all be in the Class 4A tournament.
The 3A regional will be played at Belvidere North. For that regional, East has been named the top seed.
It is a staggering turnaround for an East program that has not had a winning season in 10 years. A recent home win over Belvidere North may have been the key victory in helping the E-Rabs secure the top seed.
“If we would have lost tonight, I don’t know what would have happened,” Sackmaster said after defeating the Blue Thunder on the last night before seedings were announced. “Now that we’ve won, I’m pretty confident that we are the No. 1 seed.”
The E-Rabs are the only team in their regional with a winning record, and they are 4-1 versus the teams in the regional.
The regional begins Feb. 28 with a game between 4-seed Belvidere and 5-seed Marengo. The winner will play East March 2.
Also March 2, host Belvidere North will play Freeport. The regional final will be March 4, with the winner advancing to the sectional in Woodstock.
The Class 4A regional will be played at Jefferson, with two games taking place Feb. 28. Harlem, the 4 seed, will take on the host school, 5-seed Jefferson. Following that game, 3-seed Boylan will play the 6 seed, Guilford.
The Harlem and Jefferson winner will play the next night against top-seed Auburn. March 2, the 2-seed, Hononegah, will face the Boylan and Guilford winner.
For Hononegah, it caps a terrific climb up the standings since the start of the new year. The Indians have won 11 straight games since a loss to Auburn, including a win over Boylan, whom they beat for the 2 seed, despite being tied in the conference standings.
The Class 4A regional final will also be March 4, with the winner advancing to the Algonquin Jacobs sectional.