Friday night will make or break seasons all over the area.
Four Herald & Review-area Class 1A/2A teams will play for a spot in the Elite 8, and three 3A teams are going for regional titles.
At Moweaqua, Central A&M will play in front of its home crowd going for its second sectional title in school history, and first since 2006. The Raiders (21-8) will play a team in Nokomis that has won five sectional titles in Steve Kimbro's 37 years coaching the Redskins, but none since 2013's third-place state finish.
Monticello, looking for its second straight trip to the Class 2A state tournament, will play the 2014 state champion in Bloomington Central Catholic at the Maroa Sectional. The Sages knocked off the Saints 56-53 on Feb. 9.
Teutopolis, which will play Mount Carmel at the Robinson Sectional, is playing for its eighth sectional title since 2006. The Shoes are looking for revenge against the Golden Aces, who knocked T-Town out in sectionals last season.
In Class 3A, MacArthur will be playing on its home floor and trying to beat Springfield Southeast in Decatur for a second time this season. MacArthur is shooting for its second regional title in Ron Ingram's four years coaching the team.
Also in 3A, Lincoln will face a familiar foe in former Central State 8 rival Springfield Lanphier for the Rochester Regional title. Lincoln left the CS8 for the Apollo, but the coaches and players are plenty familiar. Last year, Lanphier beat Lincoln 49-44 in overtime at the Springfield Sectional.
At Paris, an underdog Effingham team looking for its first regional title since 2012 will play Champaign Central.
Here's a look at each of Friday's championship matchups:
Central A&M vs. Nokomis
RECORDS: Central A&M is 21-8, Nokomis is 24-7
RESUMES: Central A&M is young — the Raiders' two leading scorers are sophomores. After taking some losses to quality, mostly Class 2A teams including Springfield Calvary, LSA, St. Teresa, Clinton, Shelbyville and Meridian, the Raiders have won nine straight, avenging losses to Shelbyville and Meridian along the way.
Nokomis is a perennial powerhouse, winning at least 20 games, a regional title or both in 23 of the last 24 years under legendary coach Steve Kimbro. Nokomis hasn't won a sectional title since its state run since 2013, but this team has all the pieces around 6-foot-8 Carter Sabol. All seven losses were to Class 3A and 4A teams.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Central A&M — Connor Heaton, So., G (19.6 points, 11.0 rebounds); Griffin Andricks, So., F (14.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg). Nokomis — Carter Sabol, So., C (16.4 points, 7.6 rebounds); Austin McDowell, Sr., G (11.4 points, 6.3 rebounds)
WINNER GETS: Goreville/Sesser-Valier winner at Carbondale Super-sectional on Tuesday.
Teutopolis vs. Mount Carmel
RECORDS: Teutopolis is 21-8, Mount Carmel is 19-11
RESUMES: Teutopolis is a postseason-tested squad — the Wooden Shoes are playing at sectionals for the ninth straight year, and have won five in the last eight years. The Shoes are also battle-tested this season, playing several top Class 2A teams, and also some 3A and 4A teams.
Mount Carmel knocked T-Town out in the sectional semifinals last year and beat the Shoes twice last season. The Golden Aces' 6-foot-7 Jackson Marcotte had 28 against Teutopolis in the sectionals last year and once again leads Mount Carmel, along with senior guard Brayden Stipp, who had 26 in the Aces' sectional semifinal win against Effingham St. Anthony — a team that beat T-Town this year.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Teutopolis — Lee Hardiek, Sr., G; Clint Weber, Jr., F; Mount Carmel — Jackson Marcotte, Sr., F; Brayden Stipp, Sr., G
WINNER GETS: Trenton Wesclin/Pinckneyville winner at Carbondale Super-sectional on Tuesday.
Monticello vs. Bloomington Central Catholic
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RECORDS: Monticello is 25-1, BCC is 23-6
RESUMES: Monticello is coming off its first trip to state in program history with last year's fourth-place finish and has played all season like a team capable of a return trip. The Sages' only loss was to Colfax Ridgeview — playing for a 1A sectional title in Danville — and Monticello has several wins against top teams including St. Joseph-Ogden twice, Tolono Unity and — on Feb. 9 — a six-point win against the Saints.
BCC is in the sectional title game for the first time since winning back-to-back sectionals in 2014-15, including a state title run in 2014. After opening the season 0-4 at the Intercity Tournament, the Saints won 18 of 19 games — the lone loss coming to Aurora Christian in the title game of the State Farm Holiday Classic. Since losing to Monticello, the Saints have won five straight.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Monticello — Calvin Fisher, Sr., F (16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds); Luke Stokowski, Sr., F (10.7 points, 5.1 rebounds). BCC — Eli Davis, Sr., G; Austyn Ellison, Sr., G
WINNER GETS: Warsaw West Hancock/Deer Creek-Mackinaw winner at Springfield (UIS) Super-sectional.
Decatur (MacArthur) Regional
MacArthur vs. Springfield Southeast
RECORDS: MacArthur is 20-9, Southeast is 24-3
RESUMES: MacArthur, ranked No. 9 in Class 3A, was among the state's hottest teams, winning 11 of 12 — including a victory against Southeast — before running into a city game loss to Eisenhower on Feb. 21. The Generals have the talent to make an extended postseason run with stars Amir and Armon Brummett plus a supporting cast of players capable of delivering if too much attention is paid to the Brummetts.
Southeast, Class 3A's No. 2 team, beat MacArthur 68-62 on Dec. 8 at Southeast and lost to the Generals 74-65 in Decatur on Feb. 16. The Spartans played the latter game without point guard Terrion Murdix, who recently returned after missing eight games with a broken left thumb.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: MacArthur — Armon Brummett, Sr., G (18.6 points, 7.2 rebounds); Amir Brummett, Sr., G (15.9 points, 35 3-pointers); Southeast — Anthony Fairlee, Jr., F (15.6 points); Kobe Medley, Sr., G (7 3-pointers against Eisenhower on Tuesday)
WINNER GETS: Mahomet-Seymour/Urbana winner at Decatur (Eisenhower) Regional on Wednesday.
Lincoln vs. Springfield Lanphier
RECORDS: Lincoln is 25-5, Lanphier is 24-3
RESUMES: The Railers have won 12 straight games and have played a tough schedule — the winning streak has included victories against Bloomington and Normal West. Though Lincoln is no stranger to postseason success, it hasn't won a regional title since its state runner-up season in 2014.
Lanphier is going for a fifth straight regional title and a return trip to state after finishing fourth last year. The Lions have wins against Bolingbrook and Washington, and have beaten MacArthur twice.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Lincoln — Isaiah Bowers, Sr., G; Titus Cannon, Sr., G. Lanphier — Cardell McGee, Sr., G; Herb McMath, Jr., G
WINNERS GET: Champaign Central/Effingham winner at Decatur (Eisenhower) Regional on Tuesday.
Effingham vs. Champaign Central
RECORDS: Effingham is 14-15, Central is 19-8
RESUMES: Effingham struggled much of the season but has suddenly found a winning formula, beating Taylorville in its regular season finale, then knocking off Paris and Unity to reach the regional title game. Landon Wolfe has been the best scorer in the area this season, and has continued to shine in the postseason.
Central has won two straight regionals and three in the last four years with first Michael, and now Tim Finke leading the way.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Effingham — Landon Wolfe, Jr., G (27 points per game); Mason Hull, Sr., G. Central — Tim Finke, Sr., G; Khailieo Terry, Fr., F
WINNERS GET: Springfield Lanphier/Lincoln winner at Decatur (Eisenhower) Regional on Tuesday.