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Larkin's Kendale McCullum helps lead the Royals into this week's Class 4A South Elgin Regional. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-Times Media

The Class 4A and 3A state playoffs tip off this week, and to mark the occasion staff writer Erik Jacobsen breaks down each of the regionals involving Elgin-area teams:

CLASS 4A SOUTH ELGIN REGIONAL

SCHEDULE

Monday

Game 1) No. 4 Elgin (13-13) vs. No. 5 Streamwood (11-18), 6

Game 2) No. 3 St. Charles North (16-10) vs. No. 6 South Elgin (5-22), 7:30

Tuesday

Game 3) No. 1 Larkin (21-5) vs. Winner Game 1, 6

Game 4) No. 2 St. Charles East (15-11) vs. Winner Game 2, 7:30

Friday

Title) Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 7:30

WINNER ADVANCES TO: DeKalb Sectional

OUTLOOK

Don’t be fooled by Larkin’s two losses to No. 16 Neuqua Valley to end the regular season. The Royals are the clear-cut favorite to emerge as the champion at South Elgin.

Led by the stellar guard play of Quantice Hunter, Quentin Ruff and Kendale McCullum, No. 19 Larkin won the Upstate Eight River championship and now sets its sights on its first regional title since 2006.

The Royals went 9-1 against the five other teams in the regional during the regular season, beating each team by at least nine points on at least one occasion. Despite that success, things aren’t likely to come easy this week for Larkin, especially with junior starter Drew Jones’ availability in doubt after he suffered a knee injury last Friday.

“Our record against the teams we could potentially play in the regional is good, but it could also be flip-flopped had the ball bounced a different way in a lot of those games,” Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. “We don’t think we’re [decidedly] more talented compared to our opponents. Maybe the times we played these teams we played a little better, but everyone in our regional from the sixth seed on down to the second seed is very capable of beating us.”

St. Charles East has gone 7-8 since losing Purdue recruit Kendall Stephens to a season-ended shoulder injury in late December, but the young Saints can’t be counted out. St. Charles North played some of its best ball late in the season and could be a force with senior Quinten Payne leading the way.

Prolific scorer Arie Williams will try to guide Elgin to its third straight regional championship. The Maroons are eager for a fourth shot at beating Larkin, but first they must win their quarterfinal game against Streamwood, which won three of its past four games and will be trying send retiring coach Tim Jones out on a high note.

Rounding out the regional field is host South Elgin, which has played the second half of the season without injured leading scorer Darius Wells and with several freshman in the main rotation. The Storm enters the playoffs on a 10-game losing streak.

CLASS 4A JACOBS REGIONAL

SCHEDULE

Monday

Game 1) No. 4 Cary-Grove (12-14) vs. No. 5 Crystal Lake South (12-14), 6

Game 2) No. 3 Jacobs (14-14) vs. No. 6 Prairie Ridge (7-19), 7:30

Tuesday

Game 3) No. 1 Crystal Lake Central (23-3) vs. Winner Game 1, 6

Game 4) No. 2 Dundee-Crown (19-7) vs. Winner Game 2, 7:30

Friday

Title) Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 7:30

WINNER ADVANCES TO: DeKalb Sectional

OUTLOOK

Dundee-Crown wrapped up the regular season with an impressive blowout win against Hampshire and now sets its sights on winning its first regional title since 2009. Seniors Brandon Rodriguez and Dylan Kissack lead a veteran lineup capable of making a postseason run, but FVC Fox co-champion Crystal Lake Central looms as a serious challenge.

The Chargers played every team in the regional but the Tigers twice, compiling a 6-2 record in those games. But coach Lance Huber isn’t taking anything for granted going into Tuesday’s semifinal against Jacobs or Prairie Ridge.

“Both teams have given us problems,” Huber said. “We’re definitely going to have our work cut out for us.”

In addition to playing on its home floor, Jacobs has the added inspiration of playing for coach Jim Hinkle, who is retiring after the season following 17 years guiding the Golden Eagles.

CLASS 4A ROCKFORD EAST REGIONAL

SCHEDULE

Monday

Game 1) No. 4 Belvidere North (8-20) vs. No. 5 DeKalb (8-21), 7:30

Tuesday

Game 2) No. 1 Rockford Jefferson (17-12) vs. Winner Game 1, 7:30

Wednesday

Game 3) No. 2 Rockford East (16-9) vs. No. 3 Huntley (17-8), 7:30

Friday

Title) Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 7:30

WINNER ADVANCES TO: DeKalb Sectional

OUTLOOK

The Rockford East Regional appears to be up for grabs for any of the top three seeds.

Huntley has postseason pedigree on its side as it seeks its third straight regional title. Junior forward Amanze Egekeze has been a steady force since returning from a knee injury in early January, helping the Red Raiders claim their third straight outright Fox Valley Valley championship.

CLASS 4A YORK REGIONAL

SCHEDULE

Monday

Game 1) No. 15 Lyons Township (12-13) vs. No. 19 Willowbrook (10-16), 6

Game 2) No. 10 Leyden (16-11) vs. No. 23 West Chicago (5-23), 7:30

Tuesday

Game 3) No. 2 York (19-7) vs. Winner Game 1, 7:30

Wednesday

Game 4) No. 7 Bartlett vs. Winner Game 2, 7:30

Friday

Title) Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 7:30

WINNER ADVANCES TO: Schaumburg Sectional

OUTLOOK

Bartlett lost four of its final six regular season games, but a postseason run is still a distinct possibility with Illinois-Chicago recruit Lance Whitaker leading the way. Whitaker helped the Hawks win a sectional title as a freshman, and after missing his entire junior season with a knee injury he’d like nothing more than to finish his varsity career as a senior the way it started.

Host York counters with its own Division-I recruit in Colorado State-bound David Cohn, and the Dukes are without question the favorite playing on their home floor this week.

“It’s a winnable regional, no question, but to win we’ve got to play good basketball and we’ve got to be able to knock down some shots,” Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said.

CLASS 3A BURLINGTON CENTRAL REGIONAL

SCHEDULE

Monday

Game 1) No. 4 Burlington Central (13-13) vs. No. 5 Genoa-Kingston (16-10), 7:30

Tuesday

Game 2) No. 1 Hampshire (22-5) vs. Winner Game 1, 6

Game 3) No. 2 Sycamore (17-9) vs. No. 3 Rochelle (11-16), 7:30

Friday

Title) Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 7:30

WINNER ADVANCES TO: Freeport Sectional

OUTLOOK

Hampshire will try to get over a string of postseason diappointments when it takes the court as the team to beat at the Burlington Central Regional. The Whip-Purs won at least 17 games each of the past four seasons, but they have only two playoff wins during that span and were ousted in the first round each of the past two years.

This year’s Hampshire squad claimed a share of the Fox Valley Fox title and has posted the highest win total in coach Bob Barnett’s 11 years at the helm behind the veteran leadership of seniors Tyler Crater and Shane Hernandez.

Burlington Central enters the playoffs on a seven-game win streak after wrapping up the outright Big Northern East championship last Friday. The late-season surge shows how far the Rockets have come since an 0-7 start.

A balanced scoring attack has keyed the run of success for Burlington Central, which hopes to get a chance to avenge a pair of losses to Hampshire during the regular season. But first the Rockets must deal with a solid Genoa-Kingston team they needed overtime to beat earlier this month.

“Every team in the regional is a capable,” Burlington Central coach Brett Porto said. “Whoever can play well for two or three games here can pull this thing out.”

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