IHSA state semifinals preview

Lead basketball reporter Derek Piper previews the IHSA tournament 3A semifinals action in Peoria on Friday.

Class 3A semis

Peoria Manual (26-4) vs. Lincoln-Way West (21-9) - 12:15 p.m. CT

Peoria Manual is back in the state semifinals for the first time since 2010, and they have a shot at winning the title for the first time since 1997. The Rams were a powerhouse back in the mid-90s with four straight state championships. They were led in the backcourt by future Illini star Frank Williams, who was a junior the last time Manual won the title. Now, his son - junior guard Da'Monte Williams - has a chance to return the program to the top of the mountain. The 2017 Illini commit was named a first-team 3A All-State selection on Thursday.

Da'Monte Williams (15.8 ppg) spearheads a dangerous three-way attack for the Rams, along with fellow juniors Romon Douglas-Watkins (17.0 ppg) and A.J. Youngman (12.3 ppg). Manual took down Rockford Boylan 61-58 in the super sectionals. Youngman scored a game-high 17 points, while Da'Monte Williams posted 14 points and seven rebounds - just days after being hospitalized with a viral infection. Da'Monte Williams has averaged 16.3 points per game in state tournament play.

Manual will face a tough challenge against Lincoln-Way West, who played spoiler in the super sectional against Morgan Park and Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year Charlie Moore. The Warriors prevailed 68-60 in the super sectional - led by junior guard Marco Pettinato (22 points). He has averaged 20.2 points per game this season. Senior forward Jon Marotta is one to watch as well. He has averaged 13 points, and he also leads the team in rebounding (5.2 rpg).

Lincoln-Way is tough and fundamentally sound, especially at the defensive end. Morgan Park was the only team to score more than 60 points against them in state tournament play. That's saying something give the firepower of Moore & Co. The Warriors will try to make it tough on Da'Monte Williams as well. They held Moore (25 ppg) to 15 points, including just six in the second half.

Belleville Althoff (30-2) vs. St Joseph (25-8) - 2:00 p.m. CT

Althoff junior wing Jordan Goodwin said back in February that he wakes up every morning and thinks about falling short at state last season. Goodwin was a breakout performer in Peoria a year ago - 42 points and 26 points in two games combined - but the Crusaders were defeated 67-63 by St. Joseph in the finals. Now, Goodwin and his teammates will get a shot at revenge. Goodwin received more votes than anyone on the 3A All-State first-team, as he averaged 18.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game this season.

The junior standout had a team-high 17 points in the win over Springfield SE in the super sectional. Goodwin also posted 32 points against Mt. Vernon in the sectional finals. While the four-star 2017 prospect draws a lot of attention, he is one of many talented pieces on Althoff's roster. The Crusaders have five players who average double figures in points: Goodwin, Tarkus Ferguson (13.6 ppg), Brendon Gooch (13.5 ppg), Marvin Bateman (11.1 ppg) and C.J. Coldon (10.2 ppg). Althoff can be flat out lethal at the offensive end. Ferguson (UIC) and Gooch (SIU-Carbondale) are both good gets for their respective programs.

St. Joseph is without current Nebraska point guard Glynn Watson, but they are back in a familiar place with senior big man Nick Rakocevic leading the way. Rakocevic has averaged 19.7 points and 14.5 rebounds per game this year. He had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Althoff last March. Rakocevic was once a significant Illini target in the 2016 class, but he fell off the map after a subpar summer and then he removed the Illini from consideration when they didn't pursue him after reestablishing contact in December. Rakocevic's most recent offer came from Memphis, who already have Moore locked up in their class.

Outside of Rakocevic, St. Joe's relies on some young pieces to step up. Chargers sophomore guard Jofari Brown is second on the team with 10 points per game, while freshman guard Marquise Walker (9.1 ppg) is third on the team. St. Joe's defeated Ridgewood 52-35 in the super sectional - powered by 17 points and 14 rebounds from Rakocevic. Althoff doesn't have the height to match Rakocevic, who has a five-inch advantage on Althoff's tallest player. But they crash the glass with their strength and athleticism, and they have more offensive weapons.


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