Not to take anything away from the late game, but this game is good enough to be a state championship most years. Arguably the top two remaining teams in the state will face off in the first of two 4A matchups on Friday.
Stevenson, after falling to Simeon to become the 4A runner-up in Illinois in 2013, is back in Peoria looking for redemption against yet another Chicago Public League team. But a solid majority of that team from last year is back again, including junior stud point guard Jalen Brunson.
Brunson has been nothing short of sensational this season, eclipsing the 30 point mark on several occasions, all while being the steady drum beat by which his team marches. He will have his hands full personally, but Stevenson as a whole is facing an entirely different team than anything else they have seen this year.
Whitney Young has played a national schedule all season, matching up against teams from coast to coast against some of the best players in the country. On top of that, the top-rated player in the country in the senior class is a member of the Dolphins' roster.
Led by 6'11" senior Jahlil Okafor, Whitney Young is back in Peoria after a couple years of failing to reach the big dance. Okafor is one of the most dominant big men in the nation. Joined by seniors Miles Reynolds, a SLU commit, and Georgetown-bound Paul White, Whitney Young is deep with experience and talent.
Will Stevenson get one step closer to redemption for last year? Or will Whitney Young outmatch the Patriots?
Game 2 - Lisle (IL) Benet v. Edwardsville:
Edwardsville is the "we've been here before" team in this matchup. Advancing to Peoria last year, Edwardsville is back yet again, proving that they are one of the premier teams in the lower half of the state.
Shawn Roundtree and Armon Fletcher (SIU-Carbondale Signee) have stepped in to carry the torch for Edwardsville, who graduated Tre Harris from last year's state playoff team.
Edwardsville is strong at the guard spot, but for Benet, it all begins inside. Despite being a strong outside-shooting team, it all starts inside for Benet and Xavier-bound big man Sean O'Mara.
O'Mara is a physical presence inside and is just as skilled as a passer as he is a scorer. His basketball IQ allows him to make the right moves and identify situations in the game.
On the outside for the Redwings is guard Colin Bonnett. Bonnett is a big provider of firepower from beyond the arc, and if he gets on early in the game, he could become very dangerous.