Taking the next step

Taking the next step

Preps coordinator COLIN LIKAS breaks down this week's three Class 2A and 1A boys' basketball sectional semifinals that involve local squads:



(1) St. Joseph-Ogden (26-3) vs. (4) Monticello (24-1), 7 p.m. Wednesday

How they got there: St. Joseph-Ogden def. (10) Villa Grove/Heritage 65-36, def. (4) Salt Fork 73-56; Monticello def. (6) PBL 56-45, def. (3) GCMS 45-43.

Prediction: Monticello 48, St. Joseph-Ogden 44. It's a rematch from a Jan. 30 regular season game, which the Sages won handily, 53-36 at St. Joseph. Don't expect a similar blowout this time, as the Spartans seem keyed in and the Sages have gone through some rugged competition to get to this point. Both sides have a bevy of scoring options — Monticello can count on Calvin Fisher, Luke Stokowski, regional title-game hero Benton Singleton and Johnny Dawson; while SJ-O relies on Jordan Brooks, Riley Baker, Bryce Haake and Jack Cook, among others — but even with the maturity SJ-O has shown this season, Monticello's experience and size will play a critical role.




(2) St. Anne (14-13) vs. (5) Judah Christian (25-4), 7 p.m. today

How they got there: St. Anne def. (12) Dwight 60-24, def. (5) Tri-Point 71-60; Judah Christian def. (9) Armstrong-Potomac 97-33, def. (3) Milford 64-54, def. (1) Cissna Park 61-54.

Prediction: Judah Christian 75, St. Anne 68. These foes' records seem as if they should be flipped, but here we are. The Tribe has to be feeling its roots after knocking off the Timberwolves, its biggest test to date. From a size perspective — Judah's biggest issue against Cissna Park — the Tribe is comparable to the Cardinals. Judah's high-flying offense, powered by Cade Chitty, Daniel Alston and others — will rear its head and push the squad another step further than it has ever gone in postseason play.

(1) Ridgeview (26-4) vs. (2) Decatur Lutheran (25-4), 7 p.m. Wednesday

How they got there: Ridgeview def. (8) Bloomington Cornerstone 63-33, def. (4) Grant Park 66-47; Decatur Lutheran def. (11) Cerro Gordo/Bement 79-53, def. (4) Mt. Pulaski 69-60.

Prediction: Ridgeview 56, Decatur Lutheran 49. For a point of reference, the Lions defeated Judah Christian by 11 points earlier this season. But the Mustangs, winners of six in a row, are a more battle-tested group. That will pay dividends, as well as the continued strong play of Jacob Donaldson and Justin Myers.