Chicago Sun-Times

Kenwood to top Downers N.

- JOE HENRICKSEN HIGH SCHOOLS Twitter: @joehoopsre­port

When the season began, there was the ever-tempting lure of possibilit­y for each of the 32 teams still alive in the IHSA state basketball tournament.

That possibilit­y back in November was playing on the biggest stage — in Champaign on the final weekend of the season. Now those teams are one win away.

Here’s a look at the top supersecti­onal games Monday night:

Kenwood (28-6) vs. Downers Grove North (31-3)

No. 4 seed Downers Grove North is the lowest-seeded team remaining in the state. But the Trojans, led by rising junior guard Jack Stanton, are beaming with confidence and have proved their worth with sectional wins against Young and Hinsdale Central.

Kenwood, led by dynamic scoring guard Dai Dai Ames, is in search of the first statefinal­s berth in program history.

The pick: Kenwood 55, Downers Grove North 50.

Libertyvil­le (29-5) vs. New Trier (31-4)

It’s a matchup of No. 1 sectional seeds that made it through after winning dramatic, buzzer-beating sectional games last week.

Libertyvil­le’s 6-7 Aidyn Boone has taken his game to another level. New Trier lives through the feisty toughness of seniors Jake Fiegen and Evan Kanellos.

The pick: New Trier 54, Libertyvil­le 47.

Oswego East (29-5) vs. Moline (32-3)

After taking down one future Big Ten guard in Jeremy Fears and Joliet West in the sectional final, Oswego East now gets a shot at two more. Moline’s terrific tandem of point guard Brock Harding and 6-10 Owen Freeman is headed to Iowa.

Oswego East answers with outstandin­g balance, including 6-6 do-it-all Mekhi Lowery and emerging Ryan Johnson. Can the Wolves pull off a third straight upset?

The pick: Moline 63, Oswego East 57.

Hillcrest (29-3) vs. Simeon (30-3)

A couple of standout veteran coaches with

17 sectional titles between them meet with a state-finals berth on the line. Hillcrest’s Don Houston and Simeon’s Robert Smith lead balanced powerhouse­s loaded with size and experience.

The battle of Division I inside players, featuring Hillcrest’s 6-9 Darrion Baker (Akron) and Simeon’s Miles Rubin (Loyola) and Wesley Rubin (Northern Iowa), is one worth monitoring in this one.

But Jalen Griffith of Simeon and Bryce Tillery of Hillcrest have been the anchors for their teams at point guard.

The pick: Simeon 53, Hillcrest 47.

Benet (33-1) vs. Rockford Auburn (23-12)

Once again, it was one of Benet’s “Big Three” who saved the Redwings from a massive upset in the sectional final. Brayden Fagbemi’s put-back at the buzzer beat Geneva and saved the season.

Fagbemi, Niko Abusara and Brady Kunka have proved all season to be a dependable, productive and unselfish trio.

Auburn has played a terrific schedule and is led by Adrian Agee and Rakim Chaney, who scored 30 in the sectional win over St. Charles East.

The pick: Benet 58, Rockford Auburn 51.

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 ?? ALLEN CUNNINGHAM/SUN-TIMES ?? Jack Stanton has led Downers Grove North, which has beaten Young and Hinsdale Central.
ALLEN CUNNINGHAM/SUN-TIMES Jack Stanton has led Downers Grove North, which has beaten Young and Hinsdale Central.

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