If you go from Columbia to Carlinville to Carrollton tonight, you’ll find it’s a big night for boys high school basketball.
Regional championships are on the line at those three venues. Metro East Lutheran is cast in the Columbia 2A Regional. Marquette Catholic and Staunton are in the 2A one at Carlinville. And Carrollton is home for its Class 1A regional.
East Alton-Wood River (Class 2A) and Calhoun (Class 1A) are sectional venues next week, so expect local teams to land there.
Class 3A/4A regionals don’t get going next week, but Friday is also a big night for Southwestern Illinois teams in those categories.
Triad entertains Highland tonight for the Mississippi Valley Conference title and the Bulldogs can clinch it outright with a victory. The Knights are seeking a share of the Valley spoils.
O’Fallon and Belleville West appear headed toward a co-championship in the Southwestern Conference, yet everything hinges on Friday’s games. The Panthers entertain East St. Louis and the Maroons travel to Collinsville. O’Fallon and West both are 11-2 in the conference. West hasn’t won it since the 2003-04 season.
Let’s not forget the Alton at Edwardsville game in the SWC. It’s not for a championship, but the rivalry is alive and well. Friday’s game could set the stage for next week’s Collinsville 4A Regional.
There’s a possibility the Redbirds and Tigers could play in the title game at Vergil Fletcher Gym, though the host Kahoks and Granite City will have something to say about that.
For now, let’s follow the bouncing basketball and see where it guides us. Be assured that all roads lead to Peoria and the four-class state finals. Somebody from these parts should get there.
I’ll leave the guessing game to you.