Two area boys' basketball teams are guaranteed of games next week, one in a Class 1A super-sectional at Normal and another in a Class 3A sectional at Lincoln. What remains to be determined — Friday night — is which schools will extend their seasons. Prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner offers his thoughts on the two all-area matchups:
Rantoul Regional title game
Central (17-10) vs. Centennial (13-16), 7:30 p.m.
Look for the game to be a sellout, with the loyalties close to being evenly divided as well. The talent level is very similar, too. Centennial has more of an assortment of three-point shooters, but Central has the game's two-best perimeter marksmen. Both squads rely heavily on seniors, but the difference could be that the Maroons have more inside threats and — unless foul troubles serve as an equalizer — will win the game that gives them the series edge for the season.
Schlarman Sectional title game
Arthur (19-11) vs. Fisher (16-14), 7:30 p.m.
In another year, the pick would be different. This year, the edge goes to a Fisher squad whose resume includes victories over 20-win teams Bismarck-Henning, Salt Fork and Ridgeview as well as two wins over a 19-win Urbana Uni High program. Arthur's youthful team features three sophomores and a freshman starting. The Knights' signature victory was over a 19-win Cerro Gordo team in the regional finals. Six Fisher seniors don't have next year as a crutch.